When it comes to fashion, all I really understand is formal attire. For me, suits, shirts and ties are the only items of clothing that make perfect sense, whilst everything else exists only to confuse me. This in itself is the reason why when I first heard of “Jimmy Choo’s Maximini restaurant”, my first instinct was to ask whether Mr. Choo was a famous chef, and why it was that I had never heard of him.
Of course, if you aren’t as fashionably-illiterate as I am, you will know that Jimmy Choo is in fact, a renowned designer of women’s shoes – those glossy, sparkly things that defy the natural laws of physics and cupboard space, and cost about as much as a small tropical island. Naturally, Steak had a good old time laughing at my ignorance, and after reminding her that I had no reason to know of Jimmy Choo (since I’ve never worn high heels and don’t intend to start anytime soon), we headed over to his culinary venture in Lancaster Gate.
Note: All the meat served here is halal. Alcohol is served on the premises.
To begin, we ordered a plate of prawn sesame toast. Each piece consisted of a thick prawn patty held between two firm and crispy layers of sesame-laden bread, and the combination of textures proved to be exceedingly moreish. The accompanying sweet chilli sauce also did well to elevate the savoury flavours, and the only way it could really have been improved would have been to include a subtle, sweet glazing across the surface of the sesame.
Prawn sesame toast (£7.90) *Recommended*
Of course, one does not simply eat a plate of prawn sesame toast without indulging in some comforting soup too, and so, we ordered a bowl of prawn tom yum soup to complete the picture. The light broth presented before us carried a subtle amount of heat and spice, which remained balanced against its sharp tang of tomato. Moreover, the assortment of lemongrass, chilli, and kaffar lime leaves provided a delicate enrichement of flavours and aromas, and in combination with the big, meaty prawns that lurked within, this resulted in a perfectly simple and satisfying broth.
Tom Yum soup (£6.50)
Next, I tucked into a plate of stir-fried duck with black bean sauce. The thick pieces of duck breast possessed a soft skin and a thin layer of fat, and although slightly dry, the lost moisture was more than compensated for by the accompanying black bean sauce. The sauce itself was balanced and poised in its savoury flavour, and every so often, it would sting the tastebuds with a sharp and rich burst of umami, owing to the small black bean pieces dispersed within it. This certainly elevated the dish, and my only criticism would be that a slightly plumper duck (i.e one with a thicker fat layer) would probably have resulted in a slightly juicier experience.
Stir-fry duck with black bean sauce (£11.90) *Recommended*
Steak meanwhile, had opted for a plate of Penang rice noodles with stir-fried prawns. Whilst there wasn’t anything particularly dominant or extraordinary to note about it, both the soft, thick noodles and the tender prawns provided a good amount of flavour and textural satisfaction.
Penang prawn noodles (£9.90)
Value For Money: 4/5
Our total bill for this small but hearty meal amounted to £40.70, and across the rest of the menu, you’ll find that starters cost between £6 and £10, main courses range between £9 and £15, and desserts cost around £5. For a restaurant based in central London, such prices really are rather reasonable, and both the quality and quantity of the food are high enough to ensure that your bank manager won’t have too much to complain about when the numbers come through. (Although, they may be a little bit upset that you didn’t invite them).
Service meanwhile, is painstakingly courteous and attentive from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave. The team seemed reasonably well-coordinated, and our waitress did everything she could to ensure ensure that we had a smooth dining experience. She was even proactive enough to subtly top up our cutlery tray when she thought I was struggling with chopsticks. (Of course, I was simply recalibrating my grip, so whilst I appreciate the thought, I’m also deeply offended that she thought me incompetent).
The restaurant itself is tucked away in a residential part of Paddington, and every inch of it exudes a certain simplicity in style. The modern setting is basked in ambient lighting and composed of cosy, curved booths, glossy wooden tables, and an assortment of decorative pieces and ornaments – including a series of pictures depicting Jimmy Choo’s famous footwear. No doubt, many a man has sat beside these images, and hoped to God that it’s the closest his significant other will come to purchasing a Jimmy Choo shoe. Maximini can be found a short bus ride away from either Marble Arch or Paddington station, and parking spaces are available on nearby roads – although, restrictions apply until 6:30pm.
For Muslims, finding a good, authentic halal Chinese restaurant has always been a nigh impossible task. After making do with second-rate Chinese eateries in the early years of the halal food scene, and then being rewarded with high-flying, fine-dining establishments, London’s halal diners can now opt for the middle-ground occupied by the likes of Maximini. And whilst I am unable to vouch for the comfort and style of Jimmy Choo’s shoes, I can say that his random culinary venture provides a significant step forward for the calibre of authentic and affordable halal chinese cuisine in London.
Address: 31-33 Sussex Place, London W2 2TH
Telephone: 0207 402 6263