Wong Kei is one of the longest standing Cantonese institutions in Chinatown, it’s a multi-storey restaurant with 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 when walking through the doors. 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 ever 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.
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.
Would I go again? Yes
Address: 41-43 Wardour St, London W1D 6PY