Taman Gang is at Marble Arch, which originally fronted Buckingham Palace. Few know, but it was a ceremonial entrance to be used by the Royal Family only. Even today only senior members of the royal family, the Royal Horse Artillery and King's Troop are allowed to pass underneath the arch. In 1851 the arch was moved to its current "hallowed" location of Tyburn Gallows; scene of public executions from the 12th to 18th centuries. Marble Arch divides Bayswater and Marylebone and is now most known for Oxford Street shopping, Speakers' Corner and Hyde Park.
Taman Gang (Indonesian for Park Lane) is right outside the South/Park Lane Exit from Marble Arch underground station, under the Marriott Hotel. It's also just 5 minutes' walk from the American Embassy. From the street you descend the stairs into subdued lighting and a warm, even sensual, Balinese temple atmosphere. The long restaurant has a raised lounging area to your right, the large bar to your left and a long dining area that opens to the right in an elongated "L" shape. There are two richly furnished semi-private dining areas behind the bar that look ideal for small parties or a little intimacy.
At the bar I enjoyed a chat with the attractive Gieseler and the very helpful Calvin, while I sipped on a refreshing Pink Mojito awaiting my guest.
This restaurant pervades a very warm and friendly atmosphere. It comes from the ambiance and from the style and stature of the staff. They move around confidently and purposefully, the ladies carry themselves with proud deportment. With their friendly attitude, it just gives an air of well-being.
As we sat, a plate of Peas in Black Bean sauce was delivered. Being in the pods, you tease the peas out of their shells with your teeth and in doing so take the sauce. These were fresh and delicious - a nice start. We then had thew Dim Sum Platter (Scallop Tobiko, Green Chives and Prawns, Prawns and Crabmeat with sea vegetables, Pepper and Prawns with Mushrooms). All of these were made a great start to our culinary journey. This was accompanied by Carpaccio of Beef trussed in Eringi Mushrooms with shavings of Black Truffle and Asian Dressing. Carpaccio's a little rare for my palate but Geoff really enjoyed it. He on the other hand tried the Corn Fed Chicken Skewers in a Satay Sauce which were extremely good with a flavor that lingered in the mouth.
Onto the main courses. Merlot Black Pepper Beef with Crispy Noodles. This beef was much more to my liking being well done with noodles that remained crispy in the superb sauce. The Crispy Pi Pa Duck drizzled with Hoi Sin Sauce, did have a crispy skin while the duck itself remained succulent. The Coi Sum vegetable dish was again crispy with a very nice (Oyster based?) sauce.
recommended a Picardy Pino Noir 2003 Pemberton, which has a strong red fruit flavor and is readily capable of holding its own next to rich Asian food.
Geoff's desert was Warm Chocolate Pudding with Green Tea Ice Cream and crisp toffee decoration. The chocolate had a crispy top, a brownie-textured layer and then sank into a warm liquid. The Green Tea ice cream sounded a little odd, but in fact was delicious. It's amazing what you can get away with and this reminded me of the garlic ice cream you get in Gilmore California, the garlic capital of the world. The waitress did make a mistake in delivering to me the Baked Yoghurt Fondant with Yoghurt Foam and a Coriander Cookie. Not what I ordered but fortunate, since the mixture of textures here was fun and the Yoghurt wonderfully creamy.
Head Chef, Jimmy Nakamura who comes to Taman Gang from Nobu and Ubon (nice credentials) has put together some really delightful dishes. So if you've had a tough day shopping on Oxford Street, or a stressful day in fortress American Embassy, Taman Gang is a great place to chill out, relax, dine well and enjoy some a relaxed meal in a very friendly, upbeat atmosphere.
A last word from Tyburn: the popular phrase "one for the road" comes from the condemned being allowed one last drink at any ale house en-route to the gallows. The guards accompanied him, except the one minding the cart who was, "on the wagon".
Tel: 0207 518 3160
Wally Robertson, March 2005