A Lunch At China Tang, Where Olympic Officials Reportedly Dropped $70,000

My meal wasn't quite that expensive.

Last week, a now-deleted Reddit poster shared the apparent cost of a lunch for 15 Olympic officials, based on a receipt passed along by a waiter friend. That cost: £44,660, or nearly $70,000 — certainly a lot more than a platter of Big Macs and wilted fries, official food of the Games. Sleuths at Gawker traced the bill to China Tang, a Chinese restaurant in-house at the swanky Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane in Mayfair. (The two most expensive properties to buy on a British Monopoly board, which says it all.)

So I decided to see what makes a lunch — even for a large party — worth more than my annual salary. I went to dine at China Tang today.

China Tang's dining room.

My reservation, for a late lunch, was at 2:45 p.m. I arrived late, because negotiating the swarms of flag-waving tourists on the walk from Green Park proved to be nearly as tough as the 110m hurdles. Of course, it didn't matter because the dining room was almost entirely empty: only three tables other than my own were filled. That meant zero Olympic officials present, but presumably after you've spent nearly six figures on a meal in one sitting, you can check the restaurant in question off your "must eat there" list.

I ordered one starter — the spring onion cakes, which were great — and allowed myself to be bullied into paying for fancy bottled water rather than just the free tap stuff, hoping that if I kept all the wait staff on my side they'd share gossip about the greedy IOC folks with me between courses. I then set about re-creating the $70k lunch — at least as much as I knew of it, with one obvious exception allowed.

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