Saturday, 10 October 2015


It can be quite a boring experience having to stop at an airport over night. The remote location can make for a long, restless night. Luckily, the Sofitel at Gatwick airport has the Gatwick Oriental to keep you fuelled but is it good enough to match the luxury surroundings of the hotel that houses it?

Let me start by saying that if you plan on staying at the Sofitel Gatwick and are hoping to sample any of the restaurants on offer that you make sure you book your table either on check in or prior to your arrival as we did. The hotel was packed as I'm sure it is all year round due to it's location and when we sat down for our meal, the Gatwick Oriental was already nearly full with only a few tables spare but even these were reserved for a large group booking they had. The Gatwick Oriental is quite small compared to the other restaurants so don't expect to just rock up and get a table or you might be disappointed.

So we arrived with our reservation and were showed straight to our table. The decor does have those classic touches of oriental restaurant about it. I spied a Buddha sat in one of the conclaves along the wall and touches of red and gold here and there but at least you know what your letting yourself in for when you enter. Menu's were presented to us promptly although there was a bit of a wait after that before our food and drinks orders were taken but they were busy so they can be forgiven that one small gripe. I think the fact that we were starving after a days traveling made the wait seem longer then what  it was.

The menu contains all your oriental favourites. Starters include aromatic duck with pancakes, Cantonese spare ribs and spring rolls whilst for the mains there is sweet and sour pork and jungle curry, all those far eastern classics from most regions to please most tastes. For starters, Jon decided to go for the vegetable spring rolls. Standard really, crispy skins stuffed with crunchy vegetables and served with a sweet chili dip. All done very well. Always a good sign when a restaurant can get the classics right. All was looking good so far and I couldn't wait to tuck into my starter!

To start, I was tempted by the scallops three ways and the crispy fried squid but in the end I went for the chili salt and pepper soft shell crab. I think I definitely made the right choice. Not only did they look stunning as they hit the table, they tasted equally as good. The batter was light and crispy and gave way to the stunning crab meat inside. The balance of the salt and pepper flavourings were just right and I liked that there was plenty of slices of fresh chili alongside it so that you could ramp up the spiciness if you wished too. Maybe could of done with a little cooling dipping sauce but all in all a great start to a meal.

Onto the mains, Jon went for the stir fried mixed vegetables vegetables with stir fried noodles and bean sprouts. In his words it tasted "like he wanted it to taste in his head". The vegetables were fried in that quintessential Chow Mien  style sauce and had a great balance of textures between soft and crispy with the mixed of greens and water chestnuts. He did find his noodles to be slightly greasy and I would have to agree with him so I would advise that you stick to rice as a side but again it was another classic oriental dish served well and there was nothing left on the plate at the end of the meal!

I went for one of my old favourites, crispy shredded beef. It was delicious. There is always a chance that this dish can be served up with the beef being soggy and the sauce being to rich but this certainly was not the case. The beef had a hearty crunch to each bite and the sauce was a little sweeter than how I would normally have it but this actually worked in it's favour as it prevented that rich, sickly feeling that you can get from an MSG pumped chippy version. The egg fried rice I got for my side was well cooked and soaked up all that yummy sauce allowing me to enjoy every last drop.

By this point our bellies were full so there so no space left for dessert although I was highly tempted by the banana fritters. We paid our bill which for being in a hotel, airport and London area was reasonable in my eyes and headed off to enjoy champagne in the hotels executive lounge (we are dead fancy don't you know!). Whilst the meal was not without it's flaws I would definitely come back again if I was taking a flight from Gatwick as I would be safe in the knowledge that I would be getting a good meal even when stuck on the end of a runway.

 Is it a restaurant you would travel to try? Of course not, I would recommend you tried one the Oriental Restaurant Group's other restaurants located around the city, but if you are looking for somewhere good to eat, sleep and re-energize before catching an early morning flight then book a room at the Sofitel Gatwick and make your reservation at the Gatwick Oriental to enjoy more than your average airport meal.

To find out more about the Gatwick Oriental or the other restaurants in the Oriental Restaurant groups portfolio check out their website here!

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