The Wong Kei, although less of a fine dining restaurant and more of a London experience is good, value for money, has quick food and is always busy, full of students and local Chinese people, which is always a great indicator of good local food.
We love it. It’s a local landmark and for a quick, cheap, central meal almost can’t be beaten. It’s also notorious. Years ago the waiting staff used to be incredibly rude hurrying people along whilst they ate – for instance years ago hubby saw a punter wanting to pay by cheque – he was screamed at and chucked out. These days it’s still very blunt, but in some ways, it’s nice to be left alone to enjoy your food. The Wong Kei even has it’s own Wikipedia entry.
The service is more of a novelty than anything and anyone who considers themselves a Londoner has sat in one of the four floors of the restaurant. There is still a scrap of the old school service – upon entering you will be asked: “how many”? then directed upstairs or downstairs depending on the size of your party. Try to listen, and be warned you may be directed further upstairs as you go.
We often go with big groups, and they can always accommodate us. If you’re in a smaller group or a couple they will pop you on a large table seating 6-8 which is always interesting (and somewhat disconcerting for unsuspecting tourists). I love people watching, and this is the best time to do it. You order individually (separate from the other groups) and it’s really interesting to covertly watch them whilst you wait for your food.
One time I swear to you there was an awkward first date happening. Whilst this is a good pre-/post-/during-drinking meal, it’s not a swanky restaurant to designed to impress. Sorry fella, bad choice – I’m not sure you’re going to have a second. One year at Chinese New Year we ended up seated next to a Giant Chinese Dragons head – it was and after the parade the dancers came in for dinner, bringing the head with them.
The menu is immense and has every conceivable dish you can think of, and a few I’m not so sure I’d be keen to try.
The food is well priced (though slowly rising through the years) but hot and fresh. Our friends love the;
– Wonton Soup
– Sesame Prawn Toast (We’ve not found better yet)
– Duck pancakes (it’s quite something watching the staff pull it off the bone on your table)
– Tomato Beef Rice
– Scrambled Egg Chicken Fried Rice
– Hong Kong Style Sweet and Sour Pork
– Hot/Cold Meat of your choice & BBQ sauce on rice
– Chinese Greens in Oyster Sauce – so so good
– The addictive chilli sauce always on the table (though of late it’s kicking quite a punching).
last, but best
– the bottomless pot of free jasmine tea on the table. There is something just so good about this Tea that we’ve tried to get our own but it never quite comes close. Top tip: if you happen to run out of the tea during the course of your meal, simply leave the lid off the teapot and a waiter will come along with a fresh pot almost immediately.
Go! It’s a roulette now whether you’ll see the bad service, but when you do it’s ever so funny. One time the server decided that hubby was clearly blubbering and wouldn’t speak to him, asking me everything and hurling our change across him to me at the end of the night.
Warning: don’t try and pay by card. In this case, refusal won’t offend, it’ll be offensive. If you’re lucky.
The Wong Kei is found about 5 minutes walk from Picadilly Circus at 41-43 Wardour Street London W1D 6PY.