With news of the completion of the art-deco restaurant’s refurb being imminent, we slipped into our finery to find out why China Tang’s event spaces are so popular with the glitterati
Kate Moss dunking dim sum; Monica Lewinsky sipping hot and sour soup; the Duchess of York rolling Peking duck in pancakes. These are just some of the sort of sights witnessed by the staff at China Tang. The Mayfair restaurant’s owner, the late Sir David Tang (a restaurateur who was accustomed to A-list company), is perhaps the initial draw for its high-profile clientele. After our visit though, we’re certain it’s the spaces’ private basement setting, art-deco glamour and luxe Cantonese food that keeps them coming back – with their other sleb pals in tow.
It’s these serious credentials that also make it a star choice for corporate groups. Entering through The Dorchester’s lobby (the restaurant is attached to but not affiliated with the grande dame of hotels) groups get their first inkling of the main space’s 1930s Shanghai vibes at the summit of the staircase that leads down to it. If your client wants to make an entrance, this has it covered – just position your photographer at the bottom and you’ve got the perfect shot. If your guests would rather remain anonymous, there’s also a private street entrance for those who wish not to be stopped for autographs.
The restaurant itself is seriously striking – a central pagoda-like structure adds a focal point to the space (perfect for entertainment) while the Library is a semi-private option surrounded with Sir David’s own book collection. The headline event spaces though have to be the restaurant’s three private dining rooms. Named after characters from Puccini’s opera, Turandot, it’s clear that Ping, Pang and Pong each offer something different for groups looking for secluded and traditional Cantonese dining. Those art-deco Shanghai vibes I mentioned earlier? Yeah, these guys are full of them: think intricately carved wall panels, sumptuously decorative silk chair covers and traditional Chinese art (chosen by aesthete Sir David himself).
Ping is the largest of the trio with space for up to 22 diners at two round tables, or 18 on one. A one-way mirror means that guests can enjoy the atmosphere of the bar on the other side without being on show and an adjoining door means easy access between the two spaces too (groups can enjoy cocktails before moving on to dinner). It’s the Lazy Susan that we love the most in this space though – group sharing menu heaven.
If you asked Kate Moss, Pang would be her pick (she celebrated her 43rd birthday in here). We’re not surprised – it’s a darker, more intimate option better suited to long-table dining (we’re talking 18 seated). The sliding doors can be left open though if your group wants some of the atmosphere of the main restaurant. And finally there’s, Pong – next door to Pang – which feels like the larger of the two but also seats 18.
But what about the food, you ask. Luckily, that’s just as luxe too. Peking duck is the signature here (we saw it being theatrically carved at one diner’s table) with the dim sum not far behind – the deftly delicate scallop dumplings we were served were a particular high point. Cantonese classics are done with flair and simple, clean plating while more unusual dishes are a pleasant surprise for Western diners less accustomed with the traditional cuisine. Set group menus include the likes of Hong Kong-style lobster and noodles, stuffed crab shell and whole steamed sea bass – imagine that being presented on your table.
As we leave, the lunchtime groups of corporates are making the most of their working lunches and are hunkering down for a long afternoon. China Tang is definitely on the list when it comes to an afternoon of celebrating out of the office. If you’re having an evening event though, make sure the dress code is one to impress – there are only a few places left in London where your guests will want to dress up for dinner, and this is one of them.
Groups menus start at £82pp and minimum spends apply based on lunch or dinner bookings. Get in touch with the team below to book your space.