Review of 'Plum Valley'

plum_valley.jpg I so very much wanted to like Plum Valley. Ever since I saw this rather swank looking Cantonese restaurant opened in Gerrard Street it had a sort of appeal for me though looking at their prices I was put off. The other day I was around the area at lunch looking for some dim sum (Cantonese lunch consisting of small dishes over which one should “drink tea” or “yum cha”, that is, take your time and chat with your fellow diners) so thought I would finally give it a go.

The clinical black, modern exterior is the first thing that strikes you about the restaurant. Unfortunately once you enter the dark interior you see the small restaurant booth seating is cracked and looking more than a bit neglected. It was quite cold outside and this extended to inside as well as we spent most of the meal with our coats on attempting to keep warm. This whole “cool” thing also extended to the service as well with the menus thrown onto the table with the bare minimum of politeness. We had to further prompt, when we were able to get the attention of our server, for the dim sum menu that was quite basic.

We spent some time picking over the menu with my job being made a bit more difficult as my fellow diner did not want any pork (as pork features quite heavily in dim sum). While we did this we had some jasmine tea which was brought to the table in a rather heavy cast iron teapot but was perfectly fine. After a few minutes we ticked off a few options and when the waitress returned we added a few “off menu” (at least the dim sum menu) items, namely, “gai lan” (Chinese broccoli) in oyster sauce (rather than the ginger sauce she recommended which, in my experience, tends to be quite bland;an eye-watering £9.80) and “salt and pepper squid” (£6.50).

Deep-fried Prawn Cakes

Gai land and prawn dumplings

As is the case with dim sum the dishes arrived in no particular order. First up was a deep fried prawn cakes served with a spicy sauce - ok but not winning any taste awards. The deep-fried prawn dumplings with mayonnaise were quite tasty and very fresh. The expensive gai lan was, to be fair, a good sized portion and was perfectly cooked though a bit too much oyster sauce for my liking. The non-dim sum dishes, a rather large bowl of fried Singapore vermicelli noodles was amazingly bland but had a good amount of pork in it with a few prawns to keep it company while the salt and pepper squid was rubbery (strike 1) with no flavour whatsoever (strike 2) perhaps because I could detect neither salt nor pepper in the dish…The “Sticky rice in lotus leaf” (£3.80) had a good amount of meat inside though was a bit dry as if over-steamed. The hit of the meal has to have been the “Fried dough cheung fun” (£3.20; fried Chinese doughnuts wrapped in the wide cheung fun noodle served with a dipping sauce) which was perfectly cooked and stayed crunchy, never getting soggy which is a big risk with the dish.

Noodles and salt and pepper squid

Dough cheung fun

At more than £52 for the two of us (we were only drinking tea!), this was quite an expensive dim sum lunch in the same price bracket as Royal China in Queensway but get a much better quality meal with better service and in far nicer surroundings.

So, all in all, a disappointing and overpriced meal with lacklustre service. The food was OK but there are much better options for dim sum in the area.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2017-11-06

Cuisine: Chinese

Address: 20 Gerrard St, London W1D 6JQ

Public Transport: TUBE Leicester Square, TUBE Covent Garden

Location: London (England) - Soho



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Telephone: +44 (0)20 7494 4366