Savour a taste of an authentic celebration of Chinese New Year

CELEBRATION A dish from Kumquat’s special menu

Sunday January 22 is the start of Chinese New Year and to celebrate, Kumquat, an Asian fusion restaurant on The Pantiles, is hosting a series of very special evenings to mark the occasion. Eileen Leahy finds out more…


The Year of the Rabbit is just around the corner and Kumquat, a Tunbridge Wells restaurant co-run by Alex Boyd and his wife Virginia, who originally hails from Hong Kong, is going all out to celebrate.

The restaurant, which specialises in delicious fusion food, is situated right in the heart of The Pantiles and opened last year. Service runs from breakfast to dinner and it’s already proving to be very popular with local foodies who love its hallmark blend of culinary classics with an Asian twist. This particular epicurean pairing comes courtesy of Alex’s traditional French culinary training, alongside his and his wife Virginia’s experience of finessing their palates thanks to their time in Hong Kong.

Starting on Thursday January 19 and running over the next two weekends, the couple and their team will host a series of special set menu dinners to mark the start of the New Year in the Chinese calendar.

And having already seen the menu – which boasts specialities like ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ prawns with steamed scallop, jade-blessed Hainan poached chicken with ginger, garlic and soy, and sesame-marinated jellyfish salad – it promises to be a wonderful dining experience. There will also be entertainment during the meals, with karaoke, music and dancing available to enjoy after dinner.

“We are very excited to be celebrating Chinese New Year in our restaurant,” chef Alex tells me. “This Saturday (January 21) is sold out but there are still some spaces for next weekend, as well as the two Thursdays and Fridays this week and next.

“Chinese New Year is always a special occasion for our family, so to be able to share it with more people is wonderful for us.”

Alex’s wife Virginia adds: “As a modern Asian restaurant, Kumquat needs to be celebrating this special occasion.”

Alex has 28 years of experience in the food industry and says it was when he lived in Hong Kong that he really fell in love with Asian food.

“I have really enjoyed taking traditional celebratory Chinese dishes and modernising them for this special fine-dining tasting menu,” he explains.

“Food really is at the centre of the celebrations of Chinese New Year and to be able to have an evening enjoying many different tastes will be a fantastic experience.”

Virginia admits that making the restaurant’s own real Peking duck will be the biggest challenge for Alex: “It is a very technical process to get the skin of the duck as crispy as it needs to be, but he does love a challenge!”

Bookings can be made via the Kumquat website, by calling the restaurant or by dropping in to see them. There is availability on Thursday and Friday January 19 and 21, as well as January 26, with limited availability on Friday and Saturday January 26 and 27, so don’t delay in booking! The menu is priced at £65 per person for eight courses, with a welcome drink included. Half bottles of Moët & Chandon Champagne are priced at £30.

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