Dating back to 1963, The Mandarin Oriental hotel is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks, clearly not due to its size but due to its charm, its status, and its pure unyielding elegance. After undergoing inevitable renovations over time, The Chinnery has remained largely unchanged, exuding sophistication that is reminiscent of a private British members’ bar in a long-forgotten era, with comfy leather armchairs, dark wood and glass panelling. The beer is served in tankards, the butter in pewter dishes – it’s touches like this that give a restaurant that extra charm that will relentlessly win my heart.
The Chinnery serves wholesome (very wholesome!) British food such as Bangers and mash, Shepherd’s pie, Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, and so on. What really stands out, however, and what everyone constantly insists I try there, are the curries. The menu isn’t enormous, and the curry menu in particular is limited to three or four varieties, the aim being to serve the kind of curries that are now in fact considered ‘British’.
We started with some starters to share from the ‘snacks’ section of the menu. The Scotch eggs set the standard high. These adorable bite-sized beauties, made with quail’s eggs rather than chicken’s, put my ever-so-slight fear of Scotch eggs to bed; there was no grease present, the egg yolk was still wonderfully soft and the meat was not of the kind where you’d rather not know its origins.
The Onion bhaji were utter perfection. Where onion bhaji can sometimes be dripping in oil and it is difficult to discern any flavour other than the oil, these were light and delicate; I would almost say I considered them healthy, but perhaps not quite! I also loved how they were served on a sheet of newspaper, old school style.
A wise friend of mine once said that the very best samosas are the kind that can stand up on their own, the 3D kind. The Lamb samosas at The Chinnery fit this description to the letter, and even more importantly, taste divine. The minced lamb is of the highest quality and melts wonderfully in the mouth; the pastry is thin and flaky (again, almost healthy!); and the mint dip that goes with it has a definite awakening kick.
After hearing nothing but positive comments about the curry at The Chinnery, we all opted for this. The Tandoori chicken was succulent and full of flavour. There is always the fear that as tandoori is not bathed in a rich sauce, the chicken can dry out and leave you dissatisfied, but this was far from the truth in this case.
The Chicken Tikka Makhani had a delicious smoky taste to it amidst the rich creamy sauce and the chicken was tender throughout. I’m not sure of the difference between this and a regular chicken tikka massala, though perhaps it has something to do with this one being a touch spicier.
The Lamb Rogan Josh contained beautifully tender chunks of lamb coated in a rich, aromatic sauce. Rogan Josh is always one of my favourite curries, and this one did not disappoint.
Dessert simply was not an option after all this food, although the dessert menu certainly did look appealing. Thankfully the waiters must have sensed my desperate need for something sweet that materialises after every meal and brought us a cute little plate of bite-sized apple crumbles and brownies – a courtesy that I think all restaurants should learn from.
If you hadn’t already registered from my comment above, service at The Chinnery is first-class, and I particularly enjoyed being served by waiters in black tie! Evidently the prices reflect firstly the elegance and sophistication of the restaurant, and secondly its location inside one of the most well known hotel brands in the world, so don’t expect to pay much less than $300 a head without drinks. Another wise friend (I have a few) once told me that The Chinnery is her go-to place for when she’s feeling a little blue and in need of some good quality, pick-me-up food. I can now completely understand this.
1/F Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5 Connaught Road
Tel: +852 2825 4009