“‘There is no such passion in human nature as the passion for gravy among business men. It’s nothing to say a joint won’t yield — a whole animal wouldn’t yield — the amount of gravy they expect each day at dinner. And what I have undergone in consequence,’ cried Mrs. Todgers, raising her eyes and shaking her head, ‘no one would believe!'” –Mrs. Todgers, who ran a dingy boardinghouse in a commercial part of London in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
Chinese food in London is primarily Cantonese or Hong Kong style. During my recent trip, I tried 3 Chinese restaurants.
1. Wong Kei is the oldest. Every one who studied in London in the 1980s talk about Wong Kei. How crowded, how rude the staff and how good the food is. You’ve no choice where to sit, and the waiters will make you share tables with strangers. During my recent trip, the waiters were from PRC, and you can speak to them in putonghua. Not necessarily Chinese and they’re not rude. But the food is also nothing to rave about. I didn’t finish my plate of roast duck noodles. £4.80 per plate. Friends who ate the roast pork said it was pretty good.
Address: Exit Leicester Square station.
41-43 Wardour Street, London W1D 6PY, United Kingdom
Verdict : Not worth the calories. When £1=S$7, perhaps price makes a difference. But at the current exchange rate of £1 = S$2, pay more for Gold Mine or Four Seasons
2. Gold Mine
When I mentioned this restaurant, everyone remarks where the SIA crew go to. Literally, tables of Singaporeans. Especially young people, possibly students studying there. If you produce student card, you get a discount. Roast duck skin is crispy, fat is thin and meat is fragrant and juicy.
Locals pack rice and go. Queue is long but shorter than Four Seasons a few doors away. Four Seasons is better but I don’t want to queue. Staff are friendly. It is for the Chinese food at Bayswater that Hong Kong Chinese choose only to stay at Bayswater hotels.
Address: Take the Circle line to Bayswater station.102 Queensway, London W2 3RR, United Kingdom
3. Golden Phoenix
Mr Lai, a 75 year old friend of a friend booked the restaurant. He came to London from Hong Kong some 30 years ago as a Chinese chef. He eats at this restaurant once a month. So you can imagine how good it is. This is more fine dining than Gold Mine or Wong Kei but not Michelin star standard. Your regular Chinese dinner with family. Authentic Chinese food. Very good roast duck and roast pork. We had fried belachan kang Kong Vegetables, corn and egg soup, stir fried fish slices.
Address: Exit Leicester Square station. 35 Gerrard Street.
4. Royal China restaurants
You can’t go wrong with Royal China especially the Bays water branch. But expect to see many Singaporean and Thais. One of my friends who has a child staying in London considers it hee canteen. She doesn’t eat anywhere else.
Home away from home a familiar taste is always comforting. I now understand why my American senior colleagues insist in a good steak when they’re here. Or Himself’s American friend Bob who only has spaghetti or Italian food here in Singapore. Now at least he claims he’s tried chilli crab. But the older I get, the more I prefer to eat Asian. In Paris, I must go to the Vietnamese beef noodles place, even if I’m only on a day trip to Paris from Fontainebleau. But it’s not necessary that I have Southeast Asian. So in London, even though there was a Thai and Indian restaurant near my hotel, I didn’t bother to check it out. In seven days I had Chinese for 3 meals. Not bad. Most days I’m so full from lunch that I don’t have dinner. If I stayed in Bayswater, I’ll have roast duck for at least 4 meals. Next time I may stay around Queensway and Bayswater.