Categorie: Budget (£)
The area around Victoria train station is not exactly a destination where one would usually head in pursuit of culinary delights. All the more intrigued I was when I read about a new restaurant, serving ‘inventive’ Chinese cuisine, that had opened just a stone throw from the busy station. The rather odd choice of location is explained by the fact that A Wong took over his father’s traditional restaurant, and relaunched it as a bright and friendly place serving modern and creative Chinese.
As far as I can tell from my single visit to his restaurant, Mr. Wong did well in putting his career in economics on hold and venturing into gastronomy. Even though not everything we ordered was completely up to scratch and they had run out of many dishes, I really enjoyed the food from the lunch menu which focuses mainly on dim sum and snacks. The evening menu is separate and consists of a small selection (this alone is almost unheard of in a Chinese restaurant…) of dishes from all over China. An eight course tasting menu for incredible £40 is also available.
Dim sum are ordered per piece, which I think is a seminal idea. How often have I been out for dim sum with a friend, trying to cut the third dim sum with chopsticks! I don’t have to tell you that this usually ended in a big mess. The prices are more than reasonable (between £1.20 and £1.75 for dim sum, and up to £5 for other small dishes) and we left completely stuffed with a bill of £46 for three people including tip.
Against the wishes of my fellow diners, I ordered the Century Egg (3.95) which was served chilled with silken tofu in a mild, soy-based sauce. Even my mum, who initially refused to eat an old black egg (to be fair, it’s not a pretty sight), very much enjoyed it (after she got a spoon that is, as this dish really is difficult to eat with chopsticks).
Of the dim sum, my favourite was the Shanghai steamed dumplings (1.3 each) filled with steaming hot (careful!) flavourful broth. The Yunnan mushroom and pork dumplings (1.75) were also filled with broth and tasted remarkably similar to the Shanghai steamed ones. I would have expected them to be more distinctive and I failed to pick up the truffle they were supposed to taste of. Much better were the Clear Shrimp Dumplings (1.3 each) filled up to the brim with plump and tender prawns. What set them apart from the conventional Chinatown version was the lemon foam, which was not only pretty but also zesty and delicious, beautifully complementing the prawns.
Another winner was A Wong’s vegetarian take on salt and pepper squid – Salt and Pepper French Beans (4.95) were gently deep-fried and served with plenty of chilli. I never had anything like the Hand Moulded Crispy Bun (1.5) and I rather liked it. It was more a desert than a savoury dish, reminiscent somehow of the Austrian Germknoedl. The dense and chewy bun was not filled with anything and was eaten dipped into the flavourful pitch-black sesame paste. Not enough of the dip would actually stick to the bun, so it was, although delightful, rather awkward to eat.
The only dish we really didn’t like, in fact my diplomatic boyfriend suggested that this dish should be “taken off the menu and shot”, were the Mushroom bamboo and vermicelli spring roll (1.50). Their skin was thick and oily and the filling didn’t taste of much. Not even the sweet chilli dip was successful.
Already mentioned by other bloggers, there were technical issues. The skin of the soup dumplings was so thin, that half of them broke before reaching their destination (=my mouth) spilling hot liquid all over the place (for example my light trousers). I am confident that these minor faults will be ironed out and I am planning to return to try the evening menu. Victoria is very much on my food map now!
- Food: 7/10
- Service: 6/10
- Ambiance: 6/10
- Value for Money: 8/10
- Chances of Returning: 70%
- Verdict: Modern Chinese that really works in the culinary wasteland of Victoria.