Arriving at the Pan Pacific London Hotel, which opened its doors as recently as September 2021, you know you are arriving at a luxury establishment. A towering atrium with chic modern design leads up some steps to a lounge where afternoon tea is served in golden birdcages… Birdcages, you say? And luxury? Sounds like our sort of thing.
After a very easy check in with Lucy, we arrived at a Deluxe Room with City View on the 18th floor. The room was quite minimalist but stylish; grey tones dominated, but here and there (a cushion, an espresso cup) there were little floral blooms in a traditional Asian style. The view, however, meant that we spent only a very short amount of time looking at the cushions. Positioned on the south western corner of Pan Pacific London meant a view of the city skyscrapers that seem close enough to be within touching distance. St Mary’s Axe, better known as the “Gherkin”, the Leadenhall “Cheese Grater” and the “Walkie Talkie” at 20 Fenchurch Street are all clustered together like giant surreal items in the back of a cupboard (cut me some slack here – where do you keep your walkie talkie?). They are too far away for you to worry about being too overlooked but, with only a few blocks between you and them, close enough to feel that you’ve arrived in a futuristic version of the City. We’re not quite there yet, but this skyline hints at a future of flying cars and neon holograms; it is a place that has long forgotten the days of Victorian smog and urchin children.
Once we had torn ourselves away from the window, we both made use of the spectacular bathroom before dinner (think large bath and enormous walk in shower, separate toilet and loads of room for two women getting ready. The Pan Pacific London also has a whole floor dedicated to wellness, if you want some additional pampering, even if you’re not staying. The infinity pool has a lovely view of St Botolph’s Church by Liverpool Street and the gym is one of the most technologically advanced in London, with body recognition and personalised virtual training. Treatments include performance enhancing treatments and training options, as well as relaxing and rejuvenating masks, massages and facials. There are even massages available for your dog (not on the hotel premises, sadly!), as part of the pet-friendly ethos of the hotel, where your furry friends will be welcomed with a special pet menu and their own dedicated concierge.
But back to our menu…
The Straits Kitchen is named for the Straits of Malacca, through which Singapore historically imported the varied ingredients, spices and cuisines that created the melting pot of flavour that is uniquely Singaporean. Executive Chef Lorraine Sinclair draws on her years working in Asia to bring a refined and exciting Asian menu to the Pan Pacific London. The modern décor of neutral tones continues with the odd pop of mustard yellow and abundant plant life around the Straits Bar at the entrance to the restaurant. The clientele was a very mixed group: families, business meetings and couples, all enjoying the tempting aromas and glittering city views at well-spaced tables.
We began with a cocktail called Yangtze at the Straits bar, where all the signature cocktails contain champagne as a perfect pre-dinner drink! This one also contained tequila, yuzu sake, lime and homemade cucumber and holy basil syrup, which all combined to cleanse the palate and prepare us for the Asian flavours that were to come. Louisa showed us to our table, where we were served by the delightful Manuel and sommelier Elias (ask to see the champagne wall!). Having started with champagne it seemed churlish to refuse more, and we welcomed the suggestion of a Perrier Jouet Blanc de Blancs, which was creamy, yet clean and refreshing.
Ever the gluttons, we selected a few starters from the menu, including signature Mapo salmon with minced prawn and Sichuan spices, duck rolls with hoisin sauce and Signature chicken satay. The salmon was slightly spicy (we were warned it was very hot, but we are big spice fans!) and the kitchen were able to serve the prawn sauce separately to accommodate allergies. The duck rolls were simply some of the best I’ve ever eaten, on account of the tender meat to crisp filo pastry ratio, and, as a woman with South Asian heritage, I can tell you that the satay sauce was pretty spot on too. The accompanying wine was Chinese and an immediate favourite: a Kanaan Riesling 2018 from Ningxia. The zesty citrus flavours were combined with floral notes and a hint of petrol on the nose, but it was a good match for the food.
For the main, we tried to be more restrained, ordering a single portion of the soft shell crab, carefully debating which of the two flavours to opt for, and the baked cod, alongside a single portion of steamed rice, pak choi with red chili butter and broccoli with garlic and ginger. When it arrived, however, we were presented with a steaming bowl of both flavours of the soft shell crab, and a plate of deep fried mantou bread (it’s on the menu, but we weren’t expecting a plate of hot rolls!). Comparing the chilli and the black pepper sauces, we both felt that the black pepper was the better choice, being less sweet and more robust, although we made a good effort at finishing both plates. The baked black cod was another highlight, meaty and flaking perfectly, served in a rich lobster velouté, with fresh pea sprouts and crunchy parsnip crisps scattered on top. The next wine was Chinese too, a Chateau Changyu Moser XV Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, and while it might have been a little powerful for some the dishes, I enjoyed it very much and would happily drink it by itself too!
We finished the dinner with desserts called Chocolate and Mandarin. Chocolate was no understatement; it featured spheres of dense chocolate mousse (created specifically for Pan Pacific London with Valrhona 67%), brownies, hazelnut praline and soursop sorbet, all presented on a glass tray overflowing with dry ice. Mandarin was similarly visually striking, a sphere of mandarin mousse and sponge, as bright orange as the fruit itself, served with black sesame ice cream. The wine pairing, a Royal Tokaji of five puttonyos was light and balanced, the fruit flavours sweet but not overpowering. We stopped in at the downstairs bar Ginger Lily (the third bar, Silverleaf is over the road at Devonshire House) for a nightcap before heading back to the room and were pleased to find the kind of sultry cocktail bar that will quickly become a destination in itself.
The Pan Pacific London has been open less than a year, but with so many reasons to visit the property, as well as gorgeous accommodation if you do stay, the hotel will no doubt soon become one of London’s favourite hotels. I am already looking forward to going back.
Pan Pacific London