High-end, inventive Tianjin region-inspired cuisine is the name of the game at Lu Ban (named after a Chinese deity and master of craft), and the chic surroundings come up to scratch – just as you’d expect from a place led by executive chef Dave J Critchley of Great British Menu fame.
Respectful of Chinese food culture and traditions, there’s a selection of small plates and large dishes on offer, and the numerous menus include a set price menu, three banquets (one is purely vegan) for you to enjoy a wide range of flavours and even a Date Night menu. Salt and pepper squid is a big hit alongside cherry wood-roasted duck pancakes and dim sum-style dumplings, including mushroom and pak choi willow leaf and crispy pork and lobster siu mai. Street food-inspired straw noodle fries are elevated to posh status when sat alongside Szechuan lobster in its shell with mango, Chinese leaf and sesame prawn toast or sirloin of shorthorn beef on the bone with exotic mushrooms, crisp onion, fermented garlic and black bean; Lu Ban’s egg fried rice isn’t just any egg fried rice, it’s egg fried rice made with a duck egg and black truffle. British produce is preferred, with Scottish salmon for the pan-roasted fillet in a sweet and sour chilli bean toban djang sauce, Goosnargh chicken from Lancashire treated to both a water bath – the breast – and crunchy batter – the thigh – served with sweetcorn and wild flowers, and honey roast rare breed pork fillet and cheek. Desserts are next level. Who could resist something called Peach Of Immortality? Not us, until we saw the Chocolate Sphere: a dome of white chocolate with peanut butter and sesame ice cream, and smoked sea salt caramel. No, you shut up.
An extensive wine, beer and cocktail list is available to enhance your experience, because that’s what it is. And, should you need more, there are private dining, “Wine Room” and chef’s table options, and there’s even bottomless brunch every weekend.
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