What: An upscale Cantonese restaurant within the equally opulent The Peninsula London (rooms at the recently launched Hyde Park Corner hotel start at an eye-watering £1,400). With its own street entrance on Grosvenor Crescent, Canton Blue is made up of four individually-styled dining rooms and a cocktail bar called Little Blue.
Who: The kitchen at Canton Blue is overseen by executive chef Dicky To. He is no stranger to the group, having previously headed up Chinese restaurants at The Peninsula Shanghai, The Peninsula Tokyo and - most recently - The Peninsula Paris. The restaurant manager is Stephen Yeung, who held the same role at Dinner By Heston Blumenthal at the very nearby Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park. The Peninsula London is led by managing director Sonja Vodusek.
The vibe: There’s a lot going on at Canton Blue but it works. If accessing the space via the hotel guests are greeted by the hotel group’s signature white lions, while those accessing the restaurant via Grosvenor Crescent ascend a spiral staircase flanked by a wall of blue and white vases. Neither option is lacking on wow factor, and neither is Canton Blue’s main space. Hong Kong-based interior designer Henry Leung of CAP Atelier has taken inspiration from the Keying junk - a trade ship that sailed between Asia and Europe during the mid-19th century - to create an interior that gives Hakkasan a run for its money in terms of dramatic impact. Design details include hand-painted murals, backlit ceiling panels that depict celestial navigation maps, hand-carved wooden furniture and more intricately-designed Chinese porcelain.
The food: Billed as being ‘anchored in Cantonese tradition, but enhanced by recognisably British cooking techniques and ingredients’ the menu ticks off the classics while also offering a good amount of more adventurous dishes. Top picks include blue lobster braised with aged cheddar, Stilton, girolles and rice cakes; wok-fried Herdwick lamb chops with Eight Treasure sauce; and yeung chow fried rice with shrimp and barbecued pork. There is also a Peking duck dish (£135) that is served in two acts: first with pancakes and then either as a stir-fry or deep-fried with barbecue sauce and black sesame. Available all through the day, dim sum is offered on a separate menu with options including har gow, xiao long bao and steamed crab and cuttlefish. Given the setting and quality, prices aren’t ridiculous averaging out a £14 for three pieces.
To drink: The wine list at Canton Blue is overseen by director of wine Melody Wong. It features the UK’s largest selection of baijiu - the Chinese rice spirit - in the UK, a fair few sakes and a number of shaoxing wines. There are also around 200 wines on offer from all over the world with the list topping out at £12,000 for a bottle of 2006 La Tâche (it’s possible to spend similar sums on the baijius).
And another thing: High-end Cantonese restaurants might be a hallmark of the group - which was launched in Hong Kong in 1928 - but Canton Blue is no cookie-cutter concept. Each of the 11 hotels operated under The Peninsula brand have their own bespoke Cantonese restaurant with a different name headed by its own chef.
The Peninsula, 1 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7HJ