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March 30, 2010

Chinese in London

The Oriental, England's only Michelin one-star Chinese restaurant

A lavish ambiance, simple presentation, and intense flavors: That's the recipe at The Oriental, England's only Michelin one-star Chinese restaurant, located in The Dorchester, and it works. Greatly influenced by his travels through China, Thailand, and India, chef Kenneth Poon seasons classic Cantonese cuisine with his own personal interpretation. The "Oriental Signature Dishes" on the menu were created exclusively for this restaurant. Among my favorites: wok-fried king-sized prawns with chile-bean sauce that combine the juice of lemons, oranges, apples, tomatoes, and hwei, a sour red fruit from Beijing. "In this business you cannot cheat," explains restaurant manager Benson Zhang. "We use fresh ingredients, there are no artificial flavors added, and the meat, vegetable, and fish stocks [used as a foundation for the soups and sauces] are prepared twice a week." The surprisingly complex taste of the steamed fillet of sea bass with ginger as well as the stir-fried beef with lemon grass and braised Japanese mushrooms proved the point most dramatically. The light coconut ice cream and mango sorbet with lychees were the perfect conclusion. The Oriental happily shows curious diners around its kitchen and even gives out recipes. "But," Zhang adds mischievously, "the secret to successful Chinese cuisine really lies in the right timing and the right temperature, so it's pretty difficult to re-create these dishes." Closed during August. (The private dining rooms are almost always booked, so make sure you have a reservation.) $80-$126. In The Dorchester Hotel, Park Lane; 44-207-317-6328; fax 44-207-317-6464. www.dorchesterhotel.com