As the name would suggest, Masterchef has always been a fantastic discovery platform for new culinary talent. From Sussex star Kenny Tutt to Asian food mastermind Ping Coombes along with countless others; a multitude of chefs have come through those hallowed swing doors and brought something fresh to the scene afterwards. Masterchef 2020 finalist Philli Armitage-Mattin is no exception to this, with her latest project Taste Kitchen: Asia bringing some much-needed personality to West London.

Featuring a groundbreaking book and accompanying restaurant pop-up at Number One Park Lane, Philli is effortlessly changing the way we eat incredible food, adding theatrical elements but still making everything about the dishes themselves.

When presented with a menu, diners are encouraged to answer a series of questions to inform which of the six flavour profiles best suit them. Those who fall under the ‘Tarty’ banner (not like that) are offered well-balanced dishes like Sea bass kinilaw, prawn oil, and pork crackling, or tiger prawn and crab Goan curry, whilst ‘Comfort’ types seek home-style classics like pork and chive dumplings and a stunning short rib rendang with beef dripping Jersey Royals.

After realising I fell into the ‘Kiddish’ category (much to my dining partner’s joy), I opted to start with the Korean glazed octopus with kimchi. Cooked to perfection and packing a flavourful punch, we can’t think of a better starter in the capital right now as the sharpness of the kimchi gloriously counteracts the sweetness of the glaze, all while the octopus itself finds that perfect texture that melts in the mouth.

Following up, we opted for the aforementioned prawn and crab curry which brought together flavours seamlessly and had just the right amount of kick, but could have maybe done with more crab. The Gochu-miso monkfish with kimchi, chilli butter sauce, and green beans however was a triumph, with the fish cooked in a way we’d never tasted before; falling apart amongst the moreish chilli butter that we want on every dish from now on. That plate perhaps best encapsulates what makes this pop-up so unique, as one has the opportunity to find dishes that match their palate perfectly, but can also delve in the complete opposite direction and seek great rewards when it comes to taste.

Philli has done the remarkable here and brought great personality to Number One Park Lane, turning the fine-dining concept on its head and giving diners a welcoming introduction to Asian cooking, created with flair and joy. Throughout the meal, you feel more like you’re being cooked for at a friend’s house rather than at a five-star hotel, and that is no easy challenge – much like making the final of Masterchef, I guess.

The pop-up is running until the 25th September 2022. For further information, see here

One Hamilton Place, Park Ln, London W1J 7QY