Jon Massey reviews Mei Ume at 10 Trinity Square
JON MASSEY finds warming plates but a price that’s too high at Mei Ume
The second I walk through the door at 10 Trinity Square I’m pounced on by a smiling helpful concierge who, with a manner as slick as the soft sheen of its white walls, eases my approach to the restaurant.
Mei Ume is a fusion of the Japanese and Chinese words for plum blossom, inappropriate for its menu, which keeps the corresponding cuisines resolutely separate. Perhaps the consultants that came up with the idea hadn’t the confidence in either’s individual draw so opted for the comparative economic safe bet of “Asian cuisine”.
Take this relatively bland approach, transplant to London, leave a few plaster mouldings intact and set the whole thing to a low level soundtrack of what might best be described as persistent spa dance.
In short Mei Ume feels about as authentically Asian as its White Tiger Of The West cocktail (£16) – an unholy marriage of sake with Dutch vodka, ginger beer and bitters from Trinidad and Tobago.
But feeling steeped in a culture isn’t everything. Served alongside French wines, the food turned out to be skilfully cooked and, for the most part, delicious.
The undisputed star of the evening was a plate of Szechuan corn-fed chicken with slivers of red chilli and macadamia nuts delivering real crunch. This delicious, comforting dish delivered warmth on the tongue and in the belly.
It was nearly matched by a grungy portion of wok-fried Hereford beef in black pepper sauce.
However, despite the high-end location, neither quite lived up to their price tags of £22 and £30 respectively. Mei Ume’s diners are paying for their surroundings rather than excitement for the eye or in the mouth.
So eight gelatinous dim sum dumplings at £18 were competent and soft shell crab (£12.50) was light and fishy. But deep fried squid for the same price was oddly tasteless and a chocolate pudding with green tea powder (£9) felt decidedly dispassionate.
The first thing diners encounter when opening the lengthy a la carte (it has to be to cover Japan and China) is Mei Ume’s signature offerings of Peking duck and Kagoshima wagyu beef. Both cost £85.
Doubtless they are executed well, but the whole place leaves me itching at the prospect that such a sum could be better spent on something far more interesting.
Even the stir fried “native” lobster with ginger at £45 seems a stretch. Perhaps it dances to the beats ahead of its demise.
Szechuan corn-fed chicken