Mei Ume

Four Seasons Hotel, 10 Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ, United Kingdom

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This Asian restaurant within the Four Seasons Hotel opened in June 2017. It is unusual in that it serves both Japanese and Chinese dishes, and has two chefs. Head chef Tony Truong was formerly at Royal China while Mun Seok Choi, formerly of Sake No Hana, deals with the sushi and sashimi. The dining room is on the ground floor of the hotel, accessed via the spectacular lounge with its striking skylight. The dining room is smartly decorated, with well-spaced tables.

The menu is extensive, more Chinese than Japanese, but with a substantial sushi and sahimi section including maki rolls. There was also a lunch menu with quite a few choices available priced at £29 including tea, which is the path that we followed. From the a la carte, starters were mostly around the £9 mark, main courses around the £25 mark on average, to which you would add rice (£3.50) or noodles and perhaps vegetable side dishes, with stir-fried asparagus at £12, so the bill could mount up quite quickly. A whole Peking duck might make some diners quake, if not quack, at its price of £85.

The wine list included a sake selection and started at £39. There were suggestions for pairing with a number of the most popular courses. Sample labels included A.A. La Battistina Gavi 2016 at £45 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £11, Bernard Defait Cote de Lechet Chablis Premier Cru 2015 at £79 compared to its retail price of £58, and the classy Delamotte Brut NV champagne at a reasonable £90 for a wine that will set you back £65 in a shop. Oddly, some of the prestige wines appeared to have higher markups than the mid-range labels, such as Latour 1996 generating a chunky cash margin at £1,400 given its current market price of about £777. 

A selection of dim sum includes har gau, scallop siu mai, wild mushroom dumpling and champagne dumpling. The har gau was particularly good, with a good quality prawn, but they were all well made (14/20). Mushroom spring rolls were pleasant, the pastry crisp and the filling fine (13/20). Deep fried squid with salted egg was pleasant, the squid avoiding chewiness, though I have certainly eaten better squid. Apart from the saltiness it felt just a little bland (12/20). Salt and pepper tempura vegetables were capable, the batter light and allowing the flavour of the content to come through quite well (14/20). Sweet and sour pork with tomatoes had good balance of flavour, the pork itself properly cooked (13/20). Beef fillet in black pepper sauce was fried in a wok along with a few spring onions, and this worked well: the beef was tender, the soy and pepper sauce with it lifting the flavour of the meat (14/20). Coffee was good, and came with a few enjoyable little cakes, as well it might at £5.50 for double espresso.

Service was silky smooth, the staff being well trained and attentive but not intrusive. Overall the level of the meal was between 13/20 and 14/20, the bill coming to £45 at lunch with just water to drink, plus coffee. However if you ate at dinner then the bill would be a lot higher. If you shared a modest bottle fo wine and had coffee then a more likely cost per head would be around £90. This is hardly cheap, but of course the distinctly glitzy Four Seasons is hardly a run-down dining room in Chinatown. Certainly the food is very competent if you are happy to pay the premium for dining in such an environment.

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