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Mimi Mei Fair

55 Curzon Street, W1J 8PG, London, United Kingdom

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This restaurant opened in September 2021 in a Mayfair townhouse, the third restaurant in a small group along with Jamavar and Bombay bustle. These are backed by LDL Capital, whose family run the Leela luxury hotel group in India, but this restaurant is firmly in Chinese cuisine territory. The name is derived from “mi mi”, meaning secret in Mandarin. Head chef is Peter Ho, who worked at HKK and Hakkasan as well as at My Humble House Beijing and Lei Garden Singapore. The upstairs dining room was smartly decorated with well-spaced tables. There was a six-course tasting menu at £88 (with a vegan alternative at £66) a set lunch at £38 and a full a la carte choice. Additionally, a whole Peking duck could be pre-ordered at £88, which would be ample for two people as a main course.

The wine list had 203 labels and ranged in price from £47 to £3,200, with a median price of £84 and an average markup to retail price of 3.4 times, which is chunky even by the demanding standards of Mayfair. The list had good geographic spread, with 40% from France but also with wines from as far afield as Turkey and North Macedonia as well as more familiar territories. Sample references were Diamantakis Winery Vidiano PGI at £55 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £18, Mahi Twin Valleys Chardonnay 2017 at £69 compared to its retail price of £17, and Matias Riccitelli Malbec Vineyard Selection Lujan de Cuyo 2017 at £87 for a wine that will set you back £30 in the high street. For those with the means there was Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri 2017 at £425 compared to its retail price of £209, and F. E Trimbach Riesling Clos Sainte-Hune 2016 at £367 for a wine whose current market value is £199. Although there were a few prestige bottles, fully 67% of the list was priced at under £100.

We tried a selection of xiao long dim sum steamed buns. Xiao long bao is a famous dumpling from Shanghai where a pork jelly using aspic is placed inside a sealed, pleated bun. When the dumpling is heated the jelly liquifies and becomes a warm soup inside the dumpling, which bursts on the tongue when you bite into it. Versions are to be found all over Shanghai, such as at Jia Jia Tang Bao, and have been taken to a global audience via the successful Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung,

The little dim sum basket here contained the classic xiao long bao with pork soup, as well as purple yam, chilli crab, chicken, and king prawn dumplings. These were excellent, the dumplings having very good texture and the fillings excellent (15/20). Even better was crisp golden langoustine with black Perigord truffle, a trio of good size langoustines wrapped in angel hair pasta and then fried. The langoustines had lovely natural sweetness, their flavour enhanced by the fragrance of the truffle, the crisp pasta adding a textural contrast (16/20).

We tried two main courses. Dong Po braised pork belly is a dish from Hangzhou, exemplified by the dazzling version at the remarkable 32 Hubin Road. For the details of the cooking see the Hubin Road review, and although the version at Mimi Mei Fair had fewer layers than at Hubin Road, this version had lovely texture and deep flavour. It was accompanied by little cigars of fried sesame buns (16/20). 

We had pre-ordered the Peking duck, which was carved at the table, the initial serving being the skin, followed by the cuts of meat served with pancakes and condiments (garlic, spring onion, plum sauce, radish). Peking duck, when cooked properly, is a labour-intensive process. I am not sure of the precise process here, but one way is for the whole duck to have air pumped into it using either an old-fashioned bellows or bicycle pump. This inflates the bird and introduces air between the duck carcass and its skin. It is then seasoned with five spice and sugar, dried, doused in boiling water and hung. A syrup of vinegar and Chinese wine with maltose is then poured over the duck skin, and the duck hung for a day. Finally, the duck is cooked in the oven and served. The ideal version should have crisp skin that is almost glass-like in texture, thin shards of skin that melt on the tongue. The meat should avoid dryness, something that all too often does not happen. The very best version I have ever eaten is at Made in China in Beijing, though there are good versions also at other restaurants in the city including Duck de Chine and Da Dong. I have tried many versions of this dish in London with distinctly mixed experiences, but the version here was about the best I have encountered outside Beijing. The skin was very thin and glassy and indeed melted easily on the tongue, and the duck meat had lovely flavour and avoided dryness, which is the most common issue with the dish. The packages and condiments were good and made this particular Peking Duck a real joy to eat (17/20).

Service was good, with one manager that I recognised from Jamavar. I should declare that I was unable to get a bill for this meal, but if you ate a la carte and shared a modest bottle of wine then a realistic price per head might be around £85 or so including service. This was an excellent meal that really reminded me of the late lamented HKK, which is hardly surprising given that is where the chef used to cook. It was already busy on a weekday lunch just two weeks after opening, and I imagine that it will continue to prosper if it can continue to produce food of this standard.

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  • Ivan Klugman

    Sounds great !! Can't wait to try it. Hopefully soon as Covid restrictions on travel are less burdensome.