Blue Pavilion Leeds: Why I was blown away by this new fine dining Chinese restaurant in the Merrion Centre
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From the team behind Leeds-favourite Blue Sakura, expectations were high. The brand promised a “gastronomic adventure like no other” in its £3million venue located in the Merrion Centre, which also features a luxury karaoke space called K-CUBE.
Its launch event, a glitzy evening with dancers and entertainment from Samba de Janeiro and even a playful red dragon, saw people from all over Yorkshire and beyond come to celebrate Chinese culture and cuisine.
The 130-cover restaurant is visually stunning, decked with hanging cherry blossoms, lantern lights and even Chinese zodiac statues.
But it was the statement marble bar that caught my eye when I first walked in.
And, as expected, the bar remained busy throughout the evening serving up beautiful cocktails from its list of carefully-curated drinks menu, which features a variety of wines, champagne, beers, spirits, whiskey and sake.
My guest opted for the Daiqing pearl, a sweet and fruity mocktail made with mango, tagarashi spice, salt and brown sugar, while I had the deliciously refreshing kiwi zen, another fruity mocktail with orange and apple.
Our starters arrived soon after: a vegetarian dim sum platter with spinach, wild mushroom and sugar snap peas and edamame dumplings. Each dumpling was made to perfection with skin that was smooth and tacky while the fillings were moist and packed with flavour.
The highlight of the night was the main course – a piping hot claypot with soft tofu, aubergine and Japanese mushrooms. The thick sauce, thanks to the aubergine, had a little kick to it and paired beautifully with the sides of tenderstem broccoli in garlic and ginger sauce and bowl of Jasmine rice.
A little full from the main course, I was regrettably unable to finish one of the restaurant’s signature dessert, an exquisite looking dish made with beancurd, mango and thinly-sliced pineapple as garnishing, but its subtle sweet flavour complemented the other courses seamlessly.
It is the abundance of choice at Blue Pavilion that also makes it a very attractive venue. The menu includes soup, dim sum, small plates, salads and fish and seafood-based cuisines as well as many meat options, including peking duck with caviar, Japanese shioyaki wagyu beef, and Taiwanese sanbei chicken.
A variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes are also available as well as rice and noodles sides and mains. Set menus can make choices easier and these range from £45 per person to £108 per person.
But truly, I had no doubts that the food at Blue Pavilion would blow my mind. What did blow my mind was the service – it paralleled everything else we had seen that evening.
From the bartenders to the front-of-house staff, their welcoming smiles, attentive glances and cheerful chatter made the evening that much more special.