1. A black fan-shaped plate houses two oysters, and a white plate houses fois gras on a spoon
    Photograph: Solarace
  2. A man sits at a bar looking away from the camera. A cocktail sits on the bar
    Photograph: Solarace
  3. A white plate is garnished with greens and a white spoon with a lump of urchin atop
    Photograph: Solarace
  • Restaurants
  • Kew


Chef David has taken a pandemic low and spun his hotpot hotspot into a unique fine dining experience


Time Out says

On a quiet street in Kew, Chef David Li has transformed his hotpot-fuelled local favourite into a fine dining hotspot. Solarace by Chef David is as trendy as it is unique; enter via an arty shopfront, and as you emerge into the main dining space, past the sleek bar and vibrant LED artwork lining the walls, you’ll find an intimate dining room setting that seeks to emphasise comfortable, private dinner conversations with booth-like tables encompassed by stylish partitions.

However, if the arty, hidden entrance was unique, the menu here is more so; the six-course mini degustation seeks to fuse classic Asian flavours with local specials and top-of-the-line ingredients. Here you have two options – ‘lunar’ and ‘solar’. In the solar set you’ll find fois gras, silken tofu with dashi and shitake, abalone tempura, and their signature truffle wagyu. We went with the lunar set, lured by the promise of Sichuan kangaroo tartare and slow braised lamb shoulder, followed again by the wagyu.

While the kangaroo tartare was a winner, the middle dishes lagged, propped up amiably in the end by a DIY wagyu BBQ. Both menus meet with two dessert options; the ‘orange frost’ is delivered as a fairly familiar fragrant orange pudding atop a creamy puddle, while the ‘tremella crystal jelly’ is a more challenging option, perhaps more in theory than in practice, as it’s equally tasty. 

Although locals may be mourning the absence of Chef David’s signature hotpots since the pandemic put a kibosh on anything too difficult to render as a takeaway option, they should be intrigued by the notion of Solarace – Li here is trying his hand at something altogether more ambitious. Though, at times, it puts style over tastiness, it’s the first stop on a journey that’s sure to pay dividends. After all, if there’s someone who knows what delicious means, it's surely the king of hotpots.

Bianca O'Neill dined as a guest of Solarace.


1/140 Cotham Rd
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