25 Cockspur Court, London, SW1A 2TS, United Kingdom

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Gouqi  opened in March 2023, with chef Tong Chee Hwee leading the kitchen. I covered the background of the restaurant, the chef’s illustrious career and the wine list on my previous review, so I will not repeat those details here. Today we began with salt and pepper squid stuffed with minced prawn. This was presented in a little tuile basket, the pieces of squid fried and being beautifully cooked. The squid was tender and the minced prawn added another layer of flavour, the seasoning spot on (16/20). Also good was soft shell crab, a difficult ingredient to do well, as it all too often ends up a soggy, greasy mess. Here the crab was crisp, served with a gently spicy curry leaf dressing (14/20).

For the main course, we tried scallops stuffed with minced prawns and served with garlic and teriyaki sauce, made with mirin, soy and sugar. This was a glorious dish, the scallops beautifully sweet, combining well with the prawn mince, and the teriyaki sauce nicely enhancing the delicate flavour of the shellfish (16/20 is probably a slightly harsh score). Kung pao prawn with dried chilli and cashews was also excellent, with plump, sweet prawns lifted by the spice of the chilli, their flavour and texture nicely contrasted by the crunch of the cashews (15/20). Egg fried rice was very good, as it should be at £18, and we also tried clay pot rice pin noodles, which came with prawns and an egg that was mixed into the noodles at the table. These noodles were not my favourite style but their texture was fine and the prawns were superbly cooked (14/20). Also very good was delicate stalks of young gai lan with ginger, the Chinese broccoli beautifully cooked and having a pleasing note of aromatic flavour from the ginger (15/20).

We also tried a dessert called “Midnight Sun”, made from mango with a coating of black sesame and ice flavoured with passion fruit. This was very good indeed, the texture of the mango silky and the passion fruit bringing some acidity to balance the sesame (15/20). Service was superb throughout, and the staff very attentive. The front of house team was led by Jeffrey Ma, who had previously worked at Caprice in Hong Kong amongst other Michelin starred restaurants in Asia. The bill came to £174 a head, including cocktails, beer and some dessert wine. If you ordered more carefully, then a typical cost per person might be more like £120 a head, though this is never going to be a cheap outing. However, for the money you get cooking of a level that most Chinese restaurants in London can only dream of.

Further reviews: 27th Apr 2023

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