There’s never been a good reason to turn left out of Harrods. The stretch of shops that joins Knightsbridge to South Kensington has historically only hosted overpriced kitchen shops or tourists looking for Emporio Armani. And so when I arrived at the Brompton Asian Brasserie, I quietly wrote it off as another bit of high-end hoopla that would disappoint.
Opened in the summer, Brompton Asian Brasserie is the second London restaurant for Arkady Novikov, a Russian restaurateur of oligarch scale, who already owns 50 in Moscow plus Novikov in Mayfair. It’s in Moscow he found head chef New Zealander Nathan Dallimore, previously at the hip Bar Strelka and Garage CCC, the café for Dasha Zukova’s art gallery, Roman Abramovich’s other half. The perfect credentials for the gilded Knightsbridge I knew.
But inside was surprisingly low key, pleasingly so. Dark wooden tables, an open kitchen, driftwood and Thai woodwork on the walls. The Café del Mar type music made it feel contemporary not exclusive, smart but cosy, and the friendly staff were slick as opposed to stifling. The menu has been designed for grazers, for groups of friends to share with a drink, to pick and choose. And there is a lot to choose from.
Dallimore’s menu is a fusion of Asian influences that includes dim sum, noodles, salads and sushi, and his young team includes a wok chef from Hakkasan and a sushi chef from Roka. First up was our choice of dim sum. The prawn and coriander dumplings were light, fragrant and topped with caviar: bijou and delicious. The “golden purse” was next, dumplings shaped like clutch bags filled with a happy mix of cabbage, carrot and ginger. But they had me at the next dish, soft black cod rolled in a crispy katafi pastry, a bit like fried vermicelli, with a belt of seaweed and a tangy mango dip. I didn’t care where this restaurant was, that dish was stunning. Fish is UK sourced where possible, or farmed.
We ordered some larger dishes to follow. Duck salad with a plum and hoisin sauce, peppery watercress and studded with sweet pomegranate seeds and lychee. Refreshing, sweet and at £18 a touch expensive but between two with other dishes well worth it. Seared tuna with bull’s heart tomatoes from Sicily was deeply flavoursome. (I know that sounds like a label check, Sicily, but really they were gorgeous.) Pork belly with shredded green apple was a perfect match, the fennel and pomelo lifting it beautifully, an autumnal dish, filling but not stodgy. While my friend took a break to drink her coconut water – served from the coconut – I enjoyed a Singapore noodles, lightly curried and aromatic, not greasy or dense.
Desserts are usually where I give up with Asian food, but a green tea brulee with guava sorbet was light and memorable. A delicious end to a place as good as Soho’s Yauatcha with a more gentle vibe than the footballer haunt Zuma up the road. Hello Knightsbridge, I’ll be back.
by Vicky Paterson
Brompton Asian Brasserie, 223-225 Brompton Rd, London SW3 2EJ