The phrase ‘all good things come to an end’ is coined for desolate times like this, yes it’s true my beloved Mayflower has changed hands, that means a new owner, front of house staff and sadly the chefs are different too. They have even adopted the ubiquitous roasts meats window display, just like many others in Chinatown. I must confess though, sometimes change is good, but only when it’s progressive – it’s not to be in this case, an era has ended as the original was the best. So long my friend.
The menu set-up of the old Mayflower was a 3 way affair, one for authentic Cantonese dishes, the Western Menu and the specials. It’s an all encompassing one for New Mayflower 2.0 which is a shame as somehow ordering off the Chinese menu evoked a sense of authenticity. Make of the new one what you will.
Bottle of crisp refreshing Tsingtao is rudimental, don’t let anyone tell you different.
Soft shell crab with salt & pepper and golden garlic (£7.8). Soft shell served in martini glass is a first for me, perhaps it’s a first for you too? Either way this dish was let a down, the crab was lukewarm and the batter lacked the crispness. The crab was also missing the hallmark sweet flavours, a bit of a car crash really.
Fried clams with chilli sauce (£16.80). Sweet little sea molluscs were faultless little things and the chilli sauce added that extra complexity.
Kai lan with salted fish (£10.80). Incredibly tender little kai lan were sweet and that trademark irony subtle bitterness was there. With the added salt fish and breath of the wok this plate was pure eating pleasure.
Fried noodles with beansprouts (£6). Sorry, cold and uninspiring. No breath of the wok either. It made me scratch my head in confusion as the disparity in quality between the kai lan and this plate of noodles that arrived straight after was like a country mile.
Eel roasted in sweet honey and pepper sauce (£18.80). The batter lacked that essential crispness you need and the eel was missing that rich oily flavour too. The honey prevailed too much and the dish was again lukewarm. If this one went head to head with the original, a first round knock-out would be on the cards.
King prawn with minced salt egg yolk (£16.80). The prawns were huge and deep fried to so that the egg coated shells were potato chips crisp yet the flesh was still inherently sweet & juicy. Eat these beasts whole and that includes that roe inside the head. An undisputed maestro of a dish for me.
One eyed willy
The complementary oranges had disappeared, instead we have this red bean jelly. I quite liked it.
When did I go? June 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £40-£50 per head with drinks
The good: The kai lan was a magnificent piece of cooking as were the king prawns, I really couldn’t fault them. The service was also brisk.
The bad: If you’d like to know a place where you can eat uninspiring soft shell crab served in a martini glass come here. If you’d like to chow-down on overly sweet honey eel, you’ve come to the right place. If you like cold, insipid wok-fried (more like microwaved) noodles this is where it’s at. You get the picture. This once upon a time profound institution with long queues of people has become a lukewarm hit and miss experience.
Address: 68-70 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6LY
Phone: 020 7734 9207