After hearing news that Alan Yau was set to open a new restaurant in Monaco, my ears instantly pricked up. Should you not be familiar with his name, you would certainly have heard of some of his successful culinary endeavours which include the world famous Hakkasan, Yauatcha and Park Chinois but to name a few. It seems quite fitting that what’s been tooted as the first gourmet Chinese restaurant in Monaco, should be under his Michelin star lead.
On entering, the first thing I noticed was how very much smaller the restaurant was than I had previously imagined or expected, rather. Despite what the very carefully angled photos allure to, the restaurant is no bigger than your average coffee shop! Not that this was a problem, just something that immediately struck me. Notwithstanding, what made up for my disenchantment with regards to the size, was the pure admiration I had for the interior. One of the principal reasons for which I love Monaco is that everything is beautiful – the sea, the cars, the people – absolutely everything. And this restaurant is no exception. What an utterly stunning room – it is most definitely a case of quality over quantity. Architects Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet have transformed the space into a modern take on refined Chinese elegance. The combination of glossy black, bright gold and eye-catching green is simply a match made in heaven (or Monaco, as the case may be). The fact that you cannot pull out a bar stool without completely blocking the service passage of the staff doesn’t bother me so much when the room is that pretty.
As we move on to discuss the food, it is a slightly different story. As seems to be the case with many elements of Monaco, the outward beauty lacks substance underneath and I’m afraid this is somewhat true of what Song Qi has to offer.
After much deliberation, I opted for the ‘All in one Lunch’ which included a salad of the day, prawn wonton soup, a fish dish of the day and steamed rice. Unexpectedly, all four parts of the meal arrived together on one wooden tray. Think upscale airplane meal. Or very fancy high school lunch. Either way, although I appreciated the originality, I’m not quite sure it was fitting of the fine-dining restaurant feel. Nevertheless, I have always believed that all can be redeemed with taste, which it marginally did. The dishes were all very simple combinations of food but well presented on each plate. I thoroughly enjoyed the soup and prawn dish of the day – the flavours were fresh and not overpowering. All in all, the food was good but nothing to write home about.
Being an avid chocolate-lover, I chose a layered chocolate dessert. The arrangement of rich sponge, crunchy chocolate biscuit and refreshing hint of mango was a successful mix. It definitely hit the spot.
Overall, the experience we had at Song Qi was very pleasant despite the slightly underwhelming food. Would I go back? Of course. For some reason, when you can see the sun glistening over the beautiful French Riviera outside and you are surrounded by fantastic company in what can only be described as a glorious setting, the food seems less important in grand scheme of things. The sea, the cars, the people – isn’t that what it’s all about?