Discover. Gouqi

Gouqi Restaurant: A Culinary Gem Infused with Tradition and Modern Flair

In the heart of London, nestled among its bustling streets, lies Gouqi, a restaurant that marries traditional Chinese culinary arts with a modern twist. Under the stewardship of Chef Cheehwee Tong, formerly of the world-renowned Hakkasan, Gouqi stands as a testament to the evolution of Chinese cuisine into a sophisticated and contemporary dining experience.

A Blend of Art and Cuisine

Gouqi’s concept is as rich and flavorful as the dishes it serves. Drawing its name from the goji berry—a symbol of health and vitality—Gouqi embodies these qualities in both its ethos and its culinary offerings. The interior of Gouqi is a feast for the senses, featuring low lighting and exquisite finishes, alongside artwork from six award-winning artists and elegant flower arrangements crafted by Botanique Workshop. The design extends to two private dining rooms, The Ruby and The Crimson, and a semi-private area with three tables, allowing for intimate gatherings that still feel connected to the bustling energy of the main restaurant space.

The Chef Behind the Magic: Cheehwee Tong

Chef Cheehwee Tong’s journey in the culinary world is as distinguished as it is inspiring. After spearheading the Hakkasan group in London to its Michelin-starred glory, Chef Tong has brought his unparalleled skill and creativity to Gouqi. His tenure at Hakkasan was marked by a string of successes, including receiving the London Chef of the Year award and maintaining a Michelin star within a year of the restaurant’s opening—a first for a UK Chinese establishment.

At Gouqi, Chef Tong continues to innovate, infusing modern techniques with the rich traditions of Chinese cuisine. His philosophy is rooted in presenting complex-flavored dishes with a contemporary flair, all while maintaining a deep respect for the ingredients and techniques that define traditional Chinese cooking.

Discover Gouqi Innovative Chinese restaurant in London-All4Chefs Close up with Chef Cheehwee-Tong-@Lateef.jpg

The Inspiration behind GouQi

Symbolising health and vitality, Gouqi -The Goji Berry became a powerful emblem that encapsulated the ethos and philosophy of the restaurant.”

“The journey through Asia and the discovery of Gouqi Island served as a transformative experience, shaping the vision and direction of the restaurant.”

A Conversation with Chef Cheehwee Tong

To understand the vision and the passion that drive Gouqi, we sat down with Chef Tong to delve deeper into what makes Gouqi a standout culinary destination. Here are some questions we explored:

What inspired you to create Gouqi after such a successful career with the Hakkasan group?

–  Having served as the group executive chef at Hakkasan for a remarkable 18 years, my culinary journey took an exciting turn between 2019 and 2022 when I embarked on a voyage across Asia. It was during this time that I discovered the enchanting beauty of Gouqi Island, the second largest island in Shengsi County, Zhoushan City. This picturesque island not only boasted lush fields of goji berries but also housed one of the most well-preserved fishing villages in the region.

Captivated by the serene landscapes and the vibrant culture of Gouqi Island, I found myself deeply inspired by the essence of this place. It was here that the idea for the restaurant took root, with the name itself drawing from the humble goji berry. “Symbolising health and vitality, the goji berry became a powerful emblem that encapsulated the ethos and philosophy of the restaurant.”

The journey through Asia and the discovery of Gouqi Island served as a transformative experience, shaping the vision and direction of the restaurant. With a deep-rooted connection to the land and a commitment to honouring the traditions of the region, the restaurant stands as a testament to the beauty and richness of Gouqi Island and its bountiful offerings.

How do you incorporate the health and vitality symbolized by the goji berry into your culinary practices at Gouqi?

–  At Gouqi restaurant, we prioritise incorporating the health and vitality symbolised by the Goji berry into our culinary practices in a variety of ways. The goji berry, known for its antioxidant-rich properties and numerous health benefits, serves as a key ingredient in many of our dishes to promote overall well-being.

One way we incorporate the goji berry is by using it as a garnish or topping to add a pop of colour and a nutritious boost to our dishes. Whether sprinkled on dim sum, soups, or desserts, the goji berry adds a touch of sweetness and a wealth of vitamins and minerals to enhance the nutritional value of the meal.

Additionally, we infuse the essence of goji berries into our sauces, dressings, and marinades to impart their unique flavour profile and health benefits to our dishes. By incorporating the natural sweetness and earthy undertones of goji berries into our culinary creations, we strive to offer our guests a flavorful and nourishing dining experience.

Furthermore, we offer specialty dishes that highlight the goji berry as a star ingredient, showcasing its versatility and nutritional value. From goji berry-infused cocktails to goji berry-studded desserts, we aim to showcase the health and vitality symbolised by this superfood in creative and delicious ways.

Gouqi Restaurant London private-dining-room
Gouqi Restaurant London private-dining-room

How do you tailor the experience for the private dining rooms, The Ruby and The Crimson, compared to the main dining area?

–  In our private dining rooms, The Ruby and The Crimson, we curate a truly luxurious and exclusive dining experience with a burgundy theme that exudes sophistication and elegance. The setting is designed to offer a heightened sense of discretion and exclusivity, providing a secluded and intimate space for our discerning guests.

To tailor the experience for The Ruby and The Crimson compared to the main dining area, we elevate every aspect of the dining experience to a new level of luxury. Each private dining room is attended by a dedicated private waiter who is trained to provide personalised and attentive service, ensuring that every need and preference is met with the utmost care and discretion.

Furthermore, the table settings in The Ruby and The Crimson feature luxurious chinaware and elegant tableware, adding a touch of refinement to the dining experience. The ambiance is carefully curated to create a sense of opulence and sophistication, enhancing the overall dining atmosphere and making it a truly memorable and exclusive experience for our guests.

Discover Gouqi Restaurant London with All4Chefs
Discover Gouqi Restaurant London with All4Chefs

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Can you describe the process of blending traditional Chinese elements with modern culinary techniques in your menu development?

–  At Gouqi restaurant, we take pride in blending traditional Chinese elements with modern culinary techniques to create a unique and innovative dining experience. Our menu development process involves a thoughtful and creative approach that honours the rich culinary heritage of Chinese cuisine while incorporating contemporary methods to elevate the flavours and presentation of our dishes.

To achieve this fusion of tradition and modernity, our culinary team draws inspiration from classic Chinese recipes, ingredients, and cooking methods. We carefully select high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and traditional Chinese spices and seasonings to ensure authenticity and depth of flavour in our dishes.

Incorporating modern culinary techniques, such as sous vide cooking, molecular gastronomy, and innovative plating styles, allows us to bring a fresh perspective to traditional Chinese dishes. By experimenting with different cooking methods, textures, and flavour combinations, we are able to create dishes that are not only visually stunning but also deliver a harmonious balance of taste and texture.

Through continuous experimentation, collaboration, and a commitment to culinary excellence, we strive to push the boundaries of traditional Chinese cuisine while staying true to its roots. Our goal is to offer our guests a dining experience that is both familiar and exciting, showcasing the best of both worlds in Chinese culinary traditions and modern gastronomy.

What role do art and aesthetics play in the dining experience at Gouqi?

–  Art and aesthetics play a significant role in enhancing the dining experience at Gouqi restaurant. The restaurant’s attention to detail in its interior design, table settings, and presentation of dishes reflects a commitment to creating a visually appealing and immersive atmosphere for diners. The use of artistic elements such as carefully curated decor, elegant tableware, and creative plating techniques not only adds to the overall ambiance but also sets the stage for a memorable and enjoyable dining experience.

Furthermore, art and aesthetics are integrated into the culinary creations at Gouqi restaurant, where dishes are not only prepared with precision and skill but also presented in a visually stunning manner. The use of vibrant colours, intricate garnishes, and innovative serving vessels all contribute to the aesthetic appeal of the food, elevating the dining experience beyond just taste to encompass a multisensory journey for the guests.

What has been the most challenging aspect of opening and running Gouqi in London’s competitive restaurant scene?

–  The most challenging aspect of opening and running Gouqi in London’s competitive restaurant scene was initially the shortage of skilled chefs. The demand for authentic Chinese cuisine in London was high, but finding chefs with the necessary expertise and experience proved to be a significant hurdle.

However, this challenge was successfully resolved by obtaining working visas for talented Chinese chefs. By bringing in skilled professionals from around the world, Gouqi was able to ensure the authenticity and quality of its dishes, providing customers with an exceptional dining experience that set the restaurant apart in London’s competitive culinary landscape.

What future trends in dining do you see emerging, and how might Gouqi adapt or lead in these trends?

–  As we look towards the future of dining, several trends are emerging that are likely to shape the industry.

One prominent trend is the increasing demand for sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of their food choices, leading to a growing interest in locally sourced, organic, and seasonal ingredients. Gouqi restaurant can adapt to this trend by emphasising its commitment to sustainability and sourcing practices, highlighting partnerships with local farmers and suppliers who prioritise ethical and eco-friendly practices.

Another trend that is gaining traction is the rise of plant-based and alternative protein options. As more people adopt vegetarian, vegan, or flexitarian diets, there is a growing demand for innovative and delicious plant-based dishes. Gouqi restaurant can adapt to this trend by expanding its menu to include a variety of plant-based options, showcasing the versatility and creativity of plant-based ingredients in traditional Chinese cuisine.

Additionally, the integration of technology in the dining experience is becoming increasingly prevalent. From online ordering and delivery services to interactive menus and digital payment options, technology is reshaping the way customers engage with restaurants. Gouqi restaurant can lead in this trend by implementing cutting-edge technology solutions that enhance the customer experience, such as personalised recommendations based on customer preferences, virtual cooking classes, or interactive dining experiences.

By staying attuned to these emerging trends and proactively adapting to meet the evolving needs and preferences of diners, Gouqi restaurant can position itself as a leader in the industry and continue to delight customers with innovative culinary experiences.

Advice for Aspiring Chef looking to blend Tradition with Innovation

What advice would you offer based on your extensive experience?

  1. Master the Basics: Before delving into innovative techniques, it is crucial to have a strong foundation in traditional culinary skills. Understanding classic cooking methods, flavour profiles, and ingredient combinations will provide a solid framework for experimentation.
  2. Embrace Creativity: Innovation in the culinary world often stems from a willingness to think outside the box and push boundaries. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ingredients, techniques, and flavour pairings to create unique and memorable dishes.
  3. Respect Tradition: While innovation is important, it is equally essential to respect and honour culinary traditions. Drawing inspiration from classic dishes and techniques can help create a sense of continuity and authenticity in your creations.
  4. Stay Curious and Open-Minded: Keep abreast of current food trends, attend culinary workshops and events, and seek inspiration from a variety of sources. Being curious and open-minded will help you stay ahead of the curve and continuously evolve as a chef.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice: Like any craft, culinary artistry requires dedication and practice. Experimenting in the kitchen, refining your techniques, and seeking feedback from peers and mentors will help you hone your skills and develop your unique culinary voice.

Gouqi Restaurant: A Culinary Destination to Remember

Chef Tong’s answers promise to provide insights into the meticulous craft of creating memorable dining experiences and the continuous journey of culinary excellence. Gouqi not only offers a unique dining experience but also stands as a beacon of innovation in the London’s culinary landscape. Whether you are a culinary enthusiast or a seasoned gourmand, Gouqi is a destination that invites exploration and enjoyment in every bite.

Gouqi Restaurant London Awards