Chi Kitchen is the name of the new pan-Asian restaurant which opened this Autumn in Debenhams’ central Birmingham store and which is about to set taste buds dancing in the high profile retailer’s Oxford Street store in London.
With an all-day menu influenced by Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cuisine, the launch is the brainchild of renowned restaurateur Eddie Lim, owner of the highly regarded Mango Tree Thai restaurant in Belgravia.
Ensuring that Chi Kitchen’s design is as stylish and tasteful as its menu, international architectural and hospitality design specialists Harrison have been involved from the start. Premier Hospitality spoke to Senior Designer Andrew Kirk, to get the background on the new restaurant brand. He explained:
“Chi Kitchen’s overall design scheme is relaxed, with a purposefully limited palette of quality finishes. Varying textures and simple forms spirit diners away from the hustle and bustle of the streets outside and encourage them to relax and relish their restaurant experience.”
Chi Kitchen in Oxford Street will have its own designated entrance from Henrietta Place as well as access from within the Debenhams Beauty Hall. Promising a diverse and affordable dining experience, the restaurant is suitable for any time of day and all types of occasions and leads guests on a culinary journey through South East Asia. The creative and modern menu was created by Group Executive Chef Ian Pengelly, one of the UK’s leading experts in Asian cuisine.
Commenting on the original development of the new restaurant, Andrew Kirk said:
“The Harrison design process started in April this year, and we were briefed to develop a pan-Asian concept incorporating an all day café with informal dining and a grab and go counter. One of our first priorities was to strip out the site before we could begin work on creating the new brand within the space available.”
Harrison’s subsequent design for Chi Kitchen maintains a simple, understated palette, with the use of polished marble and natural oak, all of which define the layout of the restaurant. Fine leather and copper adornments embellish the space, giving it a refined and sophisticated touch. Despite the luxurious textures and feel to the restaurant, Chi Kitchen still maintains a relaxed ambience.
With 68 covers, the London restaurant will have a range of seating options, including deep upholstered window booths, high stools at the dining counter, and surrounding tables and chairs made of timber.
The theatre of the space is focused around the dining counter, which opens onto a robata grill where chefs ‘perform’, expertly cooking meat and fish and preparing sushi in front of customers.
“A dining counter has been situated at the sushi preparation counter so that customers can choose to observe the food and beverage theatre and be served straight from the kitchen. The excitement is heightened through clever use of lighting, including the incorporation of an illuminated gantry to provide a focal point for diners.”
Reviewing Harrison’s input into the development of Chi Kitchen, Andrew added:
“We are extremely pleased to have been involved right from the start in helping Eddie Lim develop food services for Debenhams. We see this project as a gratifying endorsement of our hospitality design skills in the retail sector and we look forward to being part of the brand’s future success story.”
The Chi Kitchen menu includes dishes from the grill, such as beef kushiyaki, Korean steak with Bulgogi sauce and seabass with chilli and lime, as well as noodle curry dishes such as duck ramen and Nyonya chicken curry. There is also a small selection of desserts. The London restaurant will be fully licensed to serve a variety of wines. Speciality teas and popular bubble teas will also be available.
Commenting on the launch of Chi Kitchen, owner Eddie Lim said:
“We are absolutely delighted to be collaborating with Debenhams on this exciting new project. Our aim is to build a brand exclusively to Debenhams, which will offer not only outstanding Pan-Asian food, but also good energy to Debenhams’ loyal and new customers. The food will be exotic, colourful and incredibly tasty.”