Wong Kei Chinatown Review… The uncompromising rudeness was part of the romance

Wong Kei is one of the longest standing Cantonese institutions in Chinatown, it’s a multi-storey restaurant posted for 500 covers and has its own Wikipedia page; it also has a very long history of being the rudest restaurant in London. I harken back to the mid the 90’s when the veteran waiters used to shout “UPSTAIRS” or “DOWNSTAIRS” to us with reference to where we should sit. It felt like a startling goad more than any form of polite direction. Sometimes we’ll order duck-noodle-soup and it will arrive literally thrown on the communal table with its MSG-laden broth spilling onto the paper table cloth. It was the best £5 we could even spend – the bill would come before we could even get half-way through our meal, the uncompromising rudeness was part of the romance, we were unquestionably humoured. Fast forward a few years, and the rudeness seemingly had subsided as we were asked to go upstairs with grace. But what we got instead was a crime against good manners; we witnessed a waitress squeezing a ripe spot on one of the mirrored pillars. We can all get behind the satisfaction of doing that, but not where we eat! Let this girl get a beasting and some sleepless nights in finishing school is what I’d say.

The spot busting culprit is on her phone

Char-siu £8.50 came first. It didn’t deserve to be a stand-alone dish. It was the type that you’d find chopped up in your fried rice as padding and would inevitably be leathery in texture. This was that char-siu, it’s not quite culinary GBH, but it’s close.

Yeung-jul chow farn £8.80 or fried rice with an assortment of duck, carrots, squid and sliced kai-larn in a corn-starch thickened sauce. It’s a meal in itself, which is exactly what you want in a place like this for less than a tenner. It’s a reminder that you can be fed well for under double digits.

Morning glory with fermented beancurd and chillies £8.80 was the winning dish as it carried the most flavour, it’s one of my favourite vegetables and they respect it here.

Our neighbours.

The verdict:

When did I go? Nov 2017
The damage: Expect to pay £10/15 per head
The good: Come here with no expectations and a tenner, pull up your chair as you’ll be fed well. It’s what I call eating for function and not fancy, so if you live and breath value then this is where you should play, it would be your thing. Wong Kei is a flawed legend.
The bad: Aside from the chagrin caused by the spot squeezer, the food here is lukewarm. Experience tells me that better can be had 60 seconds away.
Rating: 2.5/5
Would I go again? Yes
Address: 41-43 Wardour St, London W1D 6PY
Web: N/A

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