Canton Blue

The Peninsula Hotel, Th1 Grosvenor Place, London, SW1X 7HJ, United Kingdom

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Canton Blue is on the ground floor of the Peninsula Hotel by Hyde Park Corner. This restaurant is a tough reservation to get, as several tables are held back for hotel guests. The dining room is beautifully decorated, with lavish attention to detail. There is a theme around the tea clipper trade from Canton, and even the chopstick rests are in the shape of little sailing ships. There are two private dining rooms in addition to the main dining area. The menu is essentially Cantonese and the kitchen is led by chef Dicky To, who formerly ran other kitchens for the Peninsula Hotel group in Asia. A whole Peking duck was priced at £135.

There was a selection of Chinese rice wine and sake as well as more conventional wine. The list had 199 labels and ranged in price from £60 to £12,000, with a median price of £125 and an average markup to retail price of 2.8 times, which is very fair indeed for a hotel in central London. Sample references were Marqués de Murrieta Tinto Reserva Rioja 2018 at £65 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £26, Luke’s Pinot Noir from Balfour Kent 2022 at £90 compared to its retail price of £32, and Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling Grosses Gewachs 2021 at £105 for a wine that will set you back £41 in the high street. For those with the means there was Etienne Guigal Côte Rôtie La Mouline 2013 at £560 compared to its retail price of £252, and Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Domaine Bonneau du Martray 2017 at £850 for a wine whose current market value is £443. The list was quite far-ranging, from Austria to Australia and with wines from Georgia and Japan.

Har gau (£14) prawn dumplings with bamboo shoots were delicate and had nicely cooked prawns (14/20). Steamed scallop dumplings (£16) with Chinese black mushrooms were also flavoured with a little saffron, but for me this had the effect of rather overpowering the delicate flavour of the scallops (13/20). Barbecued pork buns (£14) were good, the pork a little sweet and the buns light (14/20).

Steamed sea bass fillet (£42) came with Chinese black mushrooms and was cooked in a black lotus leaf that was cut open at the table. The fish itself was accurately cooked and had good flavour, and the lotus leaf presentation made for a little tableside theatre (14/20). Pieces of dry-aged ribeye beef (£42) were fried in a wok with sliced padron peppers and black bean sauce. The beef had plenty of flavour and was high quality, the peppers adding a gentle hint of spice and the sauce working well with the meat (14/20). Gai lan (£12) was fried with garlic and had delicate young shoots, lightly cooked (14/20). Crisp aubergine (£22) with seitan (gluten), sesame and sweet and sour sauce was very pleasant, but the one thing it was not was crisp, so the menu description was slightly at odds with the dish (13/20). Egg fried rice (£9) was unusually good, delicate and well-presented.

Service was extremely capable throughout, the staff friendly and attentive and they even managed to top up my jasmine tea flawlessly. The bill came to £150 per person (before the optional service charge) with some glasses of wine. If you shared a modest bottle of wine and had three courses then a typical cost per person might be £120 or so. Canton Blue is not a cheap meal, but the dining room is exceptionally well decorated and the ingredient quality is higher than you would find in Chinatown. The charming service certainly helps justify the prices.

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User comments

  • Yibo Bao

    Beautiful room, competent service, volatile wine list (some decent and some terrible value wines). Absolutely awful food both on an absolute level and especially given the prices. Even more embarrassing considering it’s the Peninsula. Given it took them 30 years to find the “perfect site” on a roundabout, it’s astonishing that there seems to have been 0 research done wrt the current London Chinese restaurant offerings. This quality of food may have been acceptable when the Peninsula Group first started its search 30 years ago but it certainly is not now. The egg fried rice was the worst I’ve had in a restaurant in memory. It’s inexplicable when the quality of the restaurants in the Peninsulas in Paris, HK and SH are all very high. Must be some inside joke that the management of the Peninsula Group are running to see how many mugs there are in London.

  • Elke Ho

    We chose Canton Blue for our mother's 80th birthday dinner celebration. We had the Peking duck, amongst few other dishes. The decor is beautiful. However, the food is definitely nothing in comparison to that of the Peninsula in Hong kong. The staff was very polite but obviously not well trained. It was obvious that The server didn't know how to slice out the meat and skin off the Peking duck. It was understaffed, I had to help myself with the tea most of the evening. My food allergies were overlooked which meant that i couldn't have two out of the six dishes ordered. The manager did come to apologize and admitted "forgetting" about my allergies though it was noted at the time of ordering. He was kind enough to waive charges on one of the dishes. Overall , it was a bad experience and a real shame. We definitely will not return.