Featured Restaurant: Tai Pan

7th June 2019

17 - 19 Maxwell Rd • Northwood • HA6 2XY • 01923 826744

Reviewed by Jill Glenn

Sophisticated and elegant, with a splendid decorative scheme that incorporates tones of lilac and deepest purple, gold and bronze, and some very funky lighting, Tai Pan offers a relaxed atmosphere and a confident vibe – as befits a restaurant that has been thriving here for some 27 years.

Owner Paul Lai is on hand, welcoming guests, advising on menu choices and keeping a watchful eye on proceedings. His staff, several of whom I recognise from previous visits, are courteous, friendly and efficient, moving with ease through this big airy space.

The menu is wide-ranging, with dishes from most of the major culinary regions of China, Hong Kong and Thailand available. Paul suggests a platter of starters, to give us the opportunity… and the table groans with the generosity of the offering. There are Whiskers King Prawns, and Fried Baby Squid in Peppercorn Salt – and Deep Fried Broccoli with Peppercorn Salt, too – plus Steamed ‘Siu Mai’ Dumplings filled with pork. These are delicious: full of flavour, and served with a wonderful chilli/soy sauce that sings on the palate. The broccoli is cooked to perfection, and those king prawns with their very thin rice noodle whiskers are a triumph: light and crispy and beautifully garlicky.

‘In between’, we have both Steamed Fresh Scallops in the Shell, and a quarter of the Crispy Fragrant & Aromatic Duck. It lives up to all its adjectives, and yields easily to the bite. The scallops are tender; the sauce is so delicious that I slurp what’s left off the shell and hope no-one’s looking.

The main courses are prettily presented, some on dark blue plates that show off the fresh bright colours, particularly of the vegetables, to great effect. My heart sings at both the sight and the taste of the Green Beans in Garlic Sauce (I’m quite sad like that); it’s a longstanding favourite that doesn’t disappoint.
The Spicy King Prawns ‘Szechwan’ Style have good texture; I find the flavour a little on the sweet side, but my companion adores them, so I continue my love-in with the Green Beans while she pulls the prawns over to her side of the table. We’re both highly taken with the Stir Fried Beef with Seasonal Vegetable; ordered as a makeweight dish – “have something else as well,” said Paul – it more than earns its place: so tender, and with something green and leafy and iron-rich wilted into the savoury sauce. Grilled Chicken Fillet with Ginger & Garlic Sauce proves light and moist. The plain steamed rice is an excellent counterbalance to all the strong flavours that run distinctively through the rest of the dishes.

We pass on dessert – sometimes you just have to admit defeat – but relax with coffee, and discuss what one phrase might sum up the evening. The answer is simple: ‘full of flavour…’

STARTERS: £3.90-£9 • MAINS: £7.50-£16.50
DESSERTS: £3.20-£5.50 • HOUSE WINE: £15.90

Find Your Local