“ CHINESE. 41-43 Wardour Street, W1. Tel: +44 (0)20 7437 3071 / 6833. Cash only. „
For all those people who have given Wong Kei's a bad review because of the service... what?!?!
Even without being forewarned, about the seating arrangements (sharing a table with strangers) or the waiters (want to take your order quickly), surely the fact the restaurant is constantly rammed, the portions are huge and the prices low should speak for itself.
Where else in central London can you get a freshly cooked decent meal for under a fiver? And with free tea too!
The menu is massive, with virtually anything you could possibly want from a Chinese, including a lot of stuff you probably really don't want to try (intestines??). As the portions are really very large, you don't need more than one dish each, and perhaps a side.
Winners for me are the seafood noodles and sweet and sour chicken with rice.
As it's based in London's China Town, near Leicester Square, it is absolutely perfect for a pre-show meal when you haven't got hours to put up with slow service and don't want to spend a fortune on overdone pasta.
Wong Kei is a Chinese restaurant in Central London, famous for its rude staff and customer service... but does the food speak for itself?
~~~LOCATION AND ACCESS~~~
Wong Kei is located in Wardour Street, Leicester Square, and is easily accessible by Tube, which is a short walk from Picadilly Circus or Leicester Square station. It is just off centre to Chinatown but is easily recognisable and easy to get to.
The restaurant comprises of numerous floors. The bottom floor resembles a typical Hong Kong diner- but is somewhat dingy and grimy. On the upper floors, the seating is much nicer (well, compared to the ground floor).
The upper floors are quite dim lit and the stairs connecting the floors are not welcoming- like an inner city apartment stairwell (or worse).
Unfortunately, the restaurant is often crowded and like typical Chinese restaurants, is loud with chatting. There is also a general dull mood within the restaurant.
Table sharing occurs in the restaurant, where single eaters may be placed on the same table when the restaurant is busy. Sometimes small groups of two or three are also placed on the same table as other small groups.
~~~RANGE OF FOOD AND QUALITY~~~
The menu is extensive and features a range of traditional Hong Kong dishes ranging from rice dishes to noodle dishes, congee to stir dry. You can also or off the menu, so the options are limitless!
I have personally visited several times and have tried a range of dishes- the stir fry beef ho fun is quite nice, as well as the sweet and sour pork with rice. However, the most recent visit, I tried the beef fried noodles- it was terrible! The beef was tasteless and treated with acid or something, and the noodles were limp and not crunchy. I will never order that again!
However, the classics of crispy duck, fried pork and chicken rice and traditional Chinese dishes are very good and worth the money. They are also served very quickly with waiting times taking no longer than 10 minutes.
Now the restaurant is famous for its poor service and rude staff- even coined as a "concentration camp experience". I have personally not experienced any dramatic events, but the staff does not smile and serve the tea and dishes unwillingly. The tone of voice they use is harsh, and do not tolerate hesitation when ordering. It is also difficult to get the staff's attention when you want to add to your order, ask for cutlery or otherwise...
However, they have changed their policy and staff is supposedly less evil- however they still do not smile!
Each dish generally costs around £3-5, which is great value, and dish sizes are appropriately sized for one person.
I would recommend this restaurant based on selected dishes on the menu as well as the price- it is great value. I would not recommend the restaurant for the atmosphere, décor or staff. For a quick lunch in central London, you can trust Wong Kei to deliver. For guaranteed good food, think again.
The Wong kei. So controversial, many people christen it the 'Wanky'.
Lets not beat around the bush. The waiters do NOT suffer fools gladly. They will gladly tear a strip off and humiliate you with no compunction whatsoever.(If you act like a pratt, smug, smart alek, pedantic,holier than thou, superior, impatient, dogmatic, or down right rude)
They will not hesitate to physically eject you, while berating you at the same time. Your protestations will fall on deaf ears.The manager will be firmly behind his staff......And your threats of "never coming back again" will be greeted by a knowing smile and a "Good...fuck off then"
Saying that. They have 1000's of regulars who keep on coming back, so it cannot be all that bad.
I have been going for over 20 years....Most of the waiters recognise me and give me a degree of latitude that perhaps most newcomers would not receive, but I feel that I have earned my dues.
The food is not the food of gods.....But will easily better your average high street takeaway. It has literally 100's of dishes ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Above all though, it is bloody cheap.
A party of 10 could go in there and leave fully sated with a shared bill of less than £80.00.
Situated where it is in the middle of the west end it has proved a boon for west end shoppers, Friends meeting up, Quick no frills snack/soup, Pre clubbing meal. or just an experience of people watching for a good 45 mins (You will be amused...thats a promise).
There are several signature dishes which come highly recommended
Duck noodle soup.
Crispy pork duck rice.
Fried Quai due (Thick singapore noodles).
Wanton noodle soup.
Western style beef.
Crab in ginger.
Ngau nam (Beef brisket noodle soup)
Along with more unusual fare
Eels, Stewed oysters, Fried pigs intestines etc etc.
Wong kei is an experience. From having to share a table with strangers to not having any say on what floor or table you would like to be seated.
Plastic plates bowls and spoons. Complimentary pot of tea - Just open the teapot lid and a waiter will appear out of nowhere to give you a fresh (free) pot- Dishes coming at different times...Sometimes mains before starters. Child friendly....(bring a toddler along and watch a waiter fashion some childfriendly chopsticks using the actual sticks along with a bit of cardboard and some elastic band). Indifferent to tipping(They honestly could not care less)
You see where I am going with this review.....You really cannot pigeon hole this establishment. except to say that it is a far cry from most eating establishments and has easily outlasted 1000's of other more conventional London restaurants without losing any of its integrity.
I know that as long as the Wong kei exists I will patronise its doors. I can and do appreciate finer chinese establishments and when money is no object I dine at these said establishments. but if it is no frills quick, delicious cheap fix of soup or meats on rice that I need. then Wong kei is the place
Christmas holidays are always a time for me to catch up with friends and this one has been no exception. Earlier this week I met up with a group of university friends at the Wong Kei restaurant located in London's China Town at 41-43 Wardour St. This is just off Shaftesbury Avenue and the nearest tube station is Leicester Square, which is about a 5-minute walk away.
I arrived on time but my friends were fashionably late and so I spent some time standing outside the restaurant. This gave me the chance to have a look at the menu to see what was on offer and what sort of price range we were looking at. I tend to avoid eating chicken or meat when eating out, so I was quite pleased to see that there was a huge range of vegetarian and fish dishes on offer. There was also quite a selection of chicken, duck, beef and pork dishes. These all seemed to be very reasonably priced, with a main course being in the £5 region. Add in rice or noodles for another couple of pounds and your meal was complete.
When my friends finally arrived we headed in. We were greeted by a waiter who said we could head upstairs to find a table. The restaurant is spread over three floors and I was surprised that two of these were packed. I took that as a good sign and even better was that many of these people were Chinese so the place seemed authentic. The different floors seemed to be a selling point for the restaurant even had Wong Kei t-shirts for sale that said 'upstairs' or 'downstairs' which I found quite amusing.
We headed to the top floor and were greeted by another waiter who seated us. We were the first group to make it to the top floor and the waiter seemed a bit put out to see us. Having read some reviews about the restaurant before going this is apparently normal and the restaurant have a reputation for not the greatest of service. Once we were settled the waiter took out order. I'd eaten several times in China Town but hadn't been to that particular restaurant. My friends had and it seemed like their Sweet and Sour Chicken had a bit of a good reputation. 4 out of 7 of the group went for this, without even looking at the menu!
I decided to be slightly different and went for the sweet and sour prawns with egg-fried rice. The order took around 15 minutes to arrive, but we were so busy chatting that we hardly noticed this. I was impressed that all the dishes were brought out at the same time. Normally when I've been out with friends and we've ordered different things they come out in various stages which is often quite awkward as people feel they have to wait for everyone's orders to come through. While we were waiting the waiter brought out complimentary Jasmine tea, which tasted lovely. Throughout our meal the waiter ensured that our pot of tea was fresh and kept topped up.
When the food arrived, it was beautifully presented and all looked very appetising. There was much oohing and aahing at our table! I'm not very good at handling chopsticks but was determined to resist the temptation of asking for a fork, no matter how long it took me to eat! My prawns were presented on a separate dish to the rice and I set about spooning some of the sauce onto the rice and tucked in. I noticed the sauce appeared to be quite thick and sticky and coated the prawns and vegetables very nicely. Digging in, I thought the sauce was quite sweet and had a lovely tang to it as well as a bit of a kick. The prawns had been lightly fried in batter before being placed in the sauce and tasted lovely with the rice. Overall my meal was delicious and I managed with the chopsticks! The portions were quite generous and I couldn't finish all my rice, although I did make a special effort to finish the prawns and vegetables as they were so nice!
With our hunger satisfied the waiter came and cleared our table and topped up our tea. We continued to chat for another half an hour or so and at no point were we made to feel that we had to leave, which considering it was lunchtime and one of their busier times, I was impressed with. The bill came to around £50 for the 7 of us, which worked out to be just over £7 each. For a central London location and the quality of the food, I consider that a bargain. With so many other dishes to try I'll certainly be visiting again.
Wong Kei is a bit of an institution in London, it is located at one end of the rather gaudy and tacky Chinatown area of central London in Soho, if you walk down the main drag of Chinatown from the Leicester Square end of the street and walk past the arch then straight ahead of you on Wardour Street you will find Wong Kei.
You do not go to Wong Kei for the finest Chinese dining in the capital, instead you go for the fact that it offers good basic, cheap Chinese food and a rather unique dining experience. Having said that the food is good and I can recommnd their Won Ton Soup and Szeuchuen Beef as if I want a quick but filling lunch while in London this is always what I go for.
The other thing you go for is to experience the very special style of service you get, it is a busy bustling place and the serving staff are rather curt and unsmiling in the place, it covers four floors and the curt greeting you always get is to beasked hom many and then you are sent up to the next floor, this interaction continues until you reach a floor that will take you then you are shown to large circular tables, this is commmunal dining, you get a seat rather than a table and part of the fun of Wong Kei is you get to dine with other people and it can be quite enjoyable.
The menu i pretty extensive without being too adventurous but they have a pretty good range of veggie options and the food is basically good. It is also affordable especially for central London with main courses around the £6 mark. It is certainly an experience and good fun in large groups where you might get a whole table to yourself.
I want to give a Chinese perspective to this great Chinatown institution.
Being a BBC (British Born Chinese), I grew up with this place. My family absolutely adores Wong Kei and you'll find that, a bit like that "you're 7 people away from knowing a famous person" saying, a Chinese person is related to Wong Kei in some way or another. For example, my dad worked as a waiter during one summer holiday in the 1980s whilst he was studying at uni, my mum, to her horror, bumped into an ex-boyfriend which she had ditched in her hippy heydays one pre-theatre dinner, and finally, I myself was caught with my boyfriend-now-husband by my uncle when I should have been revising for my A-Levels - yes, it is a great Chinese institution!
The restaurant is located on Wardour Street, in the heart of Chinatown, London. By the looks of things, it's been there for decades. It recently went through a re-furb - I've noticed the walls have a new coat of paint, the staff have new uniforms and the table cloths replaced.
The restaurant now plays on it's "Upstairs, Downstairs" image. The saying comes from how the waiters greet you. Upon entering the flappy doors at the front, you are greeted with "how many?". You can then stick as many fingers as you like to indicate the number of your party. Table of ones stay downstairs at the front, twos or more are ushered upstairs up to any of the two other floors (hence the "upstairs, go upstairs") and when it's really busy, twos or more are ushered downstairs (hence the "downstairs, go downstairs").
Word of warning, this restaurant operates a table share scheme, a VERY intimate table share scheme. There are tables of 10+ on each floor and you are required to sit next to strangers. You can choose to make friends if you like or just plain ignore them. The customers range from students looking for a quirky cheap meal, tourists who stumbled into the wrong restaurant and look absolutely horrified, patrons and the remaining are ones have heard about the reputation of Wong Kei and want to be horrified!
Super Fast Food
This is Chinese fast food at its best. It's so fast, the dishes and cups are all plastic because the kitchen staff slaps on the grub on the plate, the waiting staff slams down the plate in front of you, the empty plate is grabbed off the table when you're done and thrown in the sink for washing! It would simple be chaos if they had breakable plates!
You can order the "normal" takeaway specialities - i.e. aromatic duck, sweet and sour pork etc. However, the Chinese come here for their rice and noodle dishes because there is no where in Chinatown or the whole of London that serves rice and noodle dishes this good at such a price!
Personal all time greats are the noodle soups (both egg noodle and rice ho fun noodles) with wonton, char sui, roast duck and soy chicken and plain rice with meat, again with char sui, roast duck and soy chicken. Slap on some oyster sauce greens on the side and you have a meal for two! All great and authentic Hong Kong Chinese cuisine!
Portions are HUGE! My husband has past his allergy of sitting next to strangers and being greeted by irate and abrupt waiting staff at this place because he's fallen in love with the portion sizes and the price!
Price and Payment
This is the best bit! A meal for two rarely goes anywhere near £20 - we're talking about £12 or so! It's absolutely brilliant! You'll be laughing all the way home with your full to bursting bellies! HOWEVER, one word of warning, Wong Kei only accepts cash so make sure you have enough on you.
What can I say? Want a cheap and cheerful place to eat, than Wong Kei is your best bet. Want to woo a girl, give this one a miss!
Aah, forgot to add! Re: staff
The staff are only Chinese rude in that our culture and language dictates that we act a certain way which seems rude to the western crowd. I'm completely use to this but it is far to say that it can be a bit disconcerting. Try and ignore it, act Chinese and you'll be fine!
There is also a misconception that the Wong Kei staff is probably on minimum wage and that's why they are rude. I have first hand knowledge that the staff at Wong Kei's are actually paid really well - one of the best in Chinatown in fact! The chefs earn quite a bit more than your bog-standard takeaway cooks and the waiting staff are also paid a high wage.
You'll also notice that all the waiting staff are men (I think there is one woman on the second floor and she washes the cups?). There is a reason for this. Not to sound sexist and I'm sure Wong Kei doesn't set out to employ just men, working in Wong Kei is super hard work and requires a lot of stamina. It also requires plate juggling of about 10 dishes at once whilst serving about 10 different tables at once. I think the sheer madness and chaos of it all is more appealing to men who want to prove that they are strong (grww!) and can handle the pressure!
Wong Kei tips:It's the best. Drink your tea fast, when empty, leave the lid up and another arrives within 2 seconds, it's bottomless.The chilli sauce cannot be repicated in any other place. I've tried to buy, and have failed on numerous occasions.Fast super great tasting food. If you order right, it can be healthy or a danger for the belt... but will always taste great.It's one of those places you don't want to lose, but at the same time... once a month / 2 mths is perfectK
Rumour had it that Bruce & Demi were unceremoniously kicked out of Wong Kei and that wouldn't surprise me after myself and at the time 'fiance' ended up being ushered onto a table with 3 American lads opposite us, I'd been warned so immediately ordered a bottle of finest white Vino and rattled off our entire meal as soon as I could and was pleased to get the correct wine and undamaged glasses after they came skipping across the table! what followed was one of the funniest things we had ever seen, the 3 opposite us didn't have a clue and had no prior warning of what they had let themselves in for! after taking 20 minutes to order, their menu's were grabbed back by the waiter, their wine was the wrong one and their meal complete opposite of what they ordered. The Best Most Insulting Waiters Anywhere Nice One
The world famous wong kei is a must for anybody who has ever visited or lived in London. I have been going there for many years now and although I have had the occasional confrontation with rude/surly waiters I will carry on going there for the next 25 years because of the decent standard of food coupled with it's cheapness. I went there last week and had my most expensive meal ever there. i went with my wife and daughter and had among other things a huge plate of crab in ginger, Fried quai due(similar to singapore noodles but made with thick ho fun noodles instead of the thin vermicelli) a plate of squid, 1 duck noodle soup , 1 duck rice, drinks and a couple of other bits and pieces. The bill? £25.00 yep £25.00 any other restaurant would have been at least £40.00. A great deal has been made of the fact that you are seated with total strangers. this to me is one of it's merits. we live in a town where even neighbours do not talk to each other...Woe betide any stranger trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bus or tube. They would be deemed certifiable. But here is a little part of London which bucks that trend. You sit with strangers you always end up talking to strangers. my last meal my table consisted of me and my wife and child, Three gay guys and a mixed chinese/indian couple. conversation was struck up immediately and it made the meal that much nicer. I highly recommend this restaurant/cafe. It easily competes with the turkish cafes in hackney and green lanes in both taste and price. man with a plan
I visited last weekend, with a group of friends on the reccommendation of someone who had been before, we got ushered downstairs immediately to the lowest level, the food arrived very quickly, was ok, but not the best I've had and unbelieveably............ the waiters weren't rude! We were very upset as this was the bit we'd been looking forward to!!!
Wong Keis is not your average Restaurant by any means, but once got used offers possibilities that no other Restaurant can. Its like trying your first Lager or Guinness you didnt like it no? But then after your second try and third you suddenly discover that youve become a lager lout! Wong Keis is much the same vein. Its uniqueness and individuality sets it apart. It may take some getting used to but its well worth the effort.
Wong Keis is definitely not about overly-Polite in your face Waiters, fantastic décor and light Chinese Music Playing in the Background. No! Its not for the Escapist-types looking for a kind of Oriental Mystical experience that doesnt and never has existed. For the price of a Burger King meal you can eat some of the best food youre ever likely to have.
I think the Service is actually pretty good there now having really improved over the last 2 years The Waiters often now say Please and Thank-you In fact Id go so far so say that these waiters are the most efficient you are ever likely to get in any restaurant They respond instantly to any requests (I remember waiting half an hour in a very expensive restaurant just to get their attention to get a drink eventually I had stand up and walk over to put the order in this would never happen at Wong Keis Id say Ive never had to wait more than 40 seconds to get a Waiters attention here). Also the accuracy of Orders is always excellent even when ordering quite complex off the Menu options . OK Ill admit service can be a bit Speedy but thats what is needed sometimes especially when going there in a lunch hour.
I would say this restaurant has very authentic Hong Kong/Chinese Cuisine from a variety of regions. There are always numerous Chinese/Hong Kong Origin Diners at Wong Keis which is always a good sign. The Menu is extremely extensive and expanded by the fact that ordering off the menu is allowed. The amount of choices you can choose from must run into the thousands!
The usuals are all there: Duck with Pancakes, Prawn Crackers, Spring Rolls, Sesame Seed Prawn toast, Chicken and Sweetcorn soup,, Singapore Fried Noodles etc These are all good and on a par with most other Chinese Restaurants (but at around half to three quarters of the price!). But regulars dont usually go for these options. For a large meal its possible just to order one single plate on one single order with no side dishes (this took some getting used to for a Chinese Restaurant). You would first choose what you want your Food to be on Plain Rice or Noodles. If youre going for Noodles choose plain, fried, Ho Fun (my favourite a wide Rice Based Noodle) or Udon (think this may cost a bit extra however). Next you would choose what you want on your Rice/Noodles Bear in mind this can be in combinations also best choices include Monks Vegetables, Barbeque Pork , Crisy Pork, Roast Chicken , Roasted Duck, Shredded Duck, Stewed Pork and Beansprout, Beef and Tomato, Beef with Vegetables, Pork Chop, etc (this list almost goes on forever). You may be surprised that some of the Sole Meats ie Crispy Pork are actually served cold (but infact because the rice and sauce are hot Ive actually come to prefer this). Also Id recommend that newcomers stay away form the egg based dishes, although these do appear quite popular with the Oriental Customers, the egg may not be as well cooked as Westerns tastes will like.
Another option is to go for the Congee (Porridge based) meals but Ive never tried these.
Also the Deep Fried Chilli Salt Squid is really superb.
Because the Noodle based soups are so large also many diners just go for a Soup alone as a meal, which is more than enough and only £2.80. The two favourites are the Won Ton and Yau Nam Soups and Id recommend having them with the Ho Fun Noodles. Just saying Won Ton Ho Fun will give you the best soup youve ever had I guarantee it.
Also if going in a party try to be seated on the First (Upper) Floor as this has the best décor I think. So overall this is an Honest and Unpretentious Restaurant whose regular Customers keep coming back and back If youre near it and hungry give it a try It fantastic value for money also - Whatever size your Party 1 to 70 They will always have a place for you!
The food may be good at WONG KEI, and it may be value for money, but, so far as I am concerned, all of this is eclipsed by the fact that the staff is extremely rude to clients. I certainly will not be back.
How would you feel about going to a restaurant where the waiters try and get you to leave even before you've looked at the menu? A restaurant where the 'directness' of the staff has become somewhat of an attraction? Well that is what Wong Kei is all about. That and cheap, great tasting food! I went here for my hen weekend and my friends couldnt believe the service, but loved the price (it worked out £5 a head for starters and main!)
Let's start at the very beginning:
Wonk Kei is located in the heart of Chinatown in foggy London town. It is located at the beginning of Wardour St which is accessible from Oxford St and more easily Shaftesbury Ave. The closest stations are Leicester Sq, Piccadilly Circus and Tottenham Ct Rd. Fortunately for me I work on St Anne's Ct which is less than a minute's walk away! It is in a very centralised location and close to a few different theatres so would be ideal for a cheap and cheerful pre-theatre meal.
The address is:
41-43 Wardour St
Tel:020 7437 8408
As the title suggests the restaurant is situated on a number of different levels. When you walk in you are on the ground floor. There are a few seats and tables here but they're mainly for the take away customers. There is a small kitchen here too and you can watch the chefs working. There will be a waiter who will ask you 'How many?' then 'Upstairs!' or 'Downstairs!'
Now I've never been downstairs so I'm not too sure of the layout down there but I'd assume it's the same as the upstairs rooms. I've heard downstairs isn't as nice as upstairs, but I haven't seen this myself personally.
So once you've been ushered to the stairs (which are a bit dingy I must say) you come to the first room. The room is quite large and can seat about 30-40. There is another small bar/kitchen so drinks can be ordered separately if required.
Upstairs again and you'll get to the 2nd floor and my favourite! This has a massive window so you can see outside onto Chinatown and the bright lights (was fantastic around the Chinese New year!) The tables up here are smaller so you're less likely to end up with 5 strangers sitting with you. The best tables to sit on are to the right by the big window. It's near the bar too and is much more intimate.
Yep, more stairs and the final seating area. As you go upstairs you pass the toilets which aren't the best of loos but are clean and well stocked with loo roll! Upstairs is another room similar to the others with more tables and another big window.
I'm not too sure where the kitchens are but all the food comes through a hatch that runs behind the bar/kitchen area on all levels.
The restaurant is very busy and lively. I don't think I've ever hear music being played, but then there's so much chatter I don't think it would be needed. The tables can range from 8-seaters to 2-seaters and are covered in a pink tablecloth and paper coverings. These are swiftly ripped off after each guest leaves and the promptly replaced ready for new diners.
The workers are all Chinese, mainly Mandarin speaking.
______ The Eating Experience
There is no need to pre-book a table; they probably wouldn't do it anyway!
Having being shepherded into a room and seated on a table (if they can they will put you on a table with no other diners but if it is busy they will plonk you on a table with others) you are handed a menu and chopsticks, some tea cups and a pot of green tea.
A bit of advice: don't spend too long on the menu. Have an idea of what you want before you enter and then have a quick glance over the menu to make sure its there. If you do linger on the menu they seem to linger bringing you the food!
I think the longest I've had to wait for the food was about 10 minutes, however this was the 'pre-theatre' time and it was exceptionally busy. The quickest has been about 2-3 minutes. If the food does take a while its not too bad as there is the jasmine tea to sip on.
Now, the food. The plates are massive and 3-4 dishes will easily fill a couple with big appetites, and will more than likely have leftovers to take home too! Me and Phil usually order a noodle dish, rice and 2 chicken/prawn/beef dishes and this is more than enough (we just like to eat the leftovers for breakfast!)
There is Soy and Chilli oil on the table, just hope that if you're seated with others they don't hog them!
I would recommend the following dishes:
Duck with pancakes (a quarter for 2 people, half for 4 and a whole for 6-8) - If you run out of pancakes or cucumber/onions they will willingly get more for you.
Won Ton noodle Soup - This is the best around and I've overheard many Chinese tourists saying how it's just as good as in Hong Kong!
Beef in Black Bean Sauce
Some of the things on the menu look suspicious (Eel soup anyone?) but apart from that the food is delicious!
There is a Special Set Menu that costs about £12. This includes Hors D'Oeuvres, Pancake Duck and 3 a variety of 3 dishes with Egg Fried Rice. The only time I think this would be worth it is if you don't know what you want but want to eat and get out quickly. It winds up a lot cheaper to order a few meals separately.
Oh, another bit of advice, don't ask for a fork unless you really have to! The looks you'll get from the staff after won't be worth it! I'd hate to think about what they'd do to the food! (Only joking!)
So you've received you food and already asked for 2 pots a tea, what next? If you're lucky they'll bring the bill as their clearing away your plates. If they're really busy they'll get you the bill while you're eating! I don't think they actually do desserts, I've never seen a menu or anyone eating any.
The bill will probably come to about £7-15 depending on what was ordered and if you didn't order drinks (with free jasmine tea, why would you need any?) They only take cash, but if you've made the mistake of not having enough they will let you know the nearest cash point. We always leave a tip, only a few quid, as the experience is well worth it.
If you want to take your food home just ask for some boxes and they'll bring takeaway boxes, lids, plastic bags and tissues.
______ The Staff, and How to Deal With Them
Now you're dying to know about the staff, so I'll tell you! They can be brash and sometimes are rude. I'm sure they've been in the paper because of this mind-set but it's really amusing! The service is fantastic and very speedy; it's just not as caring as you might want. I can understand how they can get a bit abrupt and angry, can you imagine being on your feet for a 15 hour day probably getting less than the minimum wage? Don't expect 'please or thank you's and forget silver service! Don't complain about having to share a table, the waiters have been known to shout at people that do this and have asked them to leave if they keep insisting they don't want to share. If they say that you've ordered too much (its happened to us before), trust them! They know what they're talking about.
You can buy the famous UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS T-shirts for £10, I think I'll get one the next time I'm there!
So that's about everything. To sign off, I heard a really lovely quote about Wong Kei: If you go to London, you can forget to visit Buckingham Palace. You can forget to visit Downing St or Trafalgar Square. But you'll never forget your first visit to Wong Kei!
THIS REVIEW, AS DO ALL MY REVIEWS, APPEARS ON CIAO.CO.UK
Wong Keis (pronounced wonkys) is a well-known Chinese restaurant on Wardour Street, off Leicester Square in London. I had the pleasure of eating there last night, and this is a review of that visit.
I have eaten at Wong Kei several times but had not visited for a number of years before last night. The restaurant is famous for its cheap food, fun and informal atmosphere, and most of all, rude waiters and I was interested to see whether the place was as I remembered it.
The restaurant is spread over several floors and sure enough, when my husband and I entered, we were told upstairs please. We joined the queue on the stairs, and after a few minutes, we were shown to two spare seats on the first floor. One thing to note about Wong Kei is that you do share tables with other diners, and this is usually part of the fun. However, we noticed immediately that most of the old, large tables for eight or more people had been replaced by a larger number of small tables for four people. We were shown to a table where a young Chinese couple were busy having an argument. Oh dear. We smiled at them as we seated ourselves, but they avoided eye contact and ignored us, so we did not impose ourselves on them any further.
Immediately we were seated, a pot of jasmin tea and two teacups were placed in front of us; this comes free with every meal. We had already decided what to order, as the menu is prominently displayed in the window of the restaurant, so we waved aside the menus and gave our order. As I mentioned, the food is cheap. You can get a set menu for £7 per person: this buys you, for example, rice, vegetables, sweet and sour pork and chicken in black bean sauce. However, its worth noting that this is for a minimum of 2 people, so is no good if you are dining alone (and this is one restaurant where you can comfortably done alone, particularly at lunchtimes).
However, we decided to push the boat out, and ordered the special set menu for £12 per person. Hey, my husband knows how to spoil me ;-) Looking around the room, I could see that the place was packed full. The clientele were mainly young, and mainly Chinese, with the exception of a group of loud Aussies and us. The waiters toiled non-stop between tables and a counter in front of the four dumb waiters that brought food up from the kitchens below.
First to arrive, and quickly, was a plate of mixed hor dorves, comprising fairly standard barbeque spare ribs, pancake rolls, crispy seaweed and surprisingly good sesame prawn toast, which wasnt at all greasy (one of my pet hates). Next we had crispy aromatic duck and pancakes, which was delicious. Bad examples of this dish can be overcooked too crispy, to the point of being dry and inedible or wet and fatty, but this was neither; it was perfectly cooked, with a pleasant aromatic flavour. We even had some banter with the waiter who bought the duck to our table and shredded it (curiously, using a spoon and fork, not a knife). I began to suspect that the staff had been on a customer care course since my last visit.
The arguing couple left, and the staff promptly re-set their side of the table. This wasnt difficult, as the pink tablecloth was covered by a square of disposable white paper on each side of the table. No crumbing down here just fold and remove, and replace with a clean piece! The other cheap thing about the table setting is that you eat from plastic bowls and plates (with a lovely Chinese pattern in red and green). Even the spoons are plastic - and of course, the chopsticks. Do not ask for a fork, unless you want to provide entertainment for the other diners.
The last part of our meal was a large bowl of egg-fried rice, vegetables, crispy shredded chilli beef, and chicken in black bean sauce. The egg fried rice was a bit stodgy, more steamed than fried but I prefer that to it being coated in many-times-fried oil. The vegetables were standard, and the chicken was passable, although the sauce had a distinct MSG signature to it. The beef was very good, in a thick sweet sauce with plenty of fresh chillies.
All in all, the meal was very enjoyable, and you cant argue with the prices. Unfortunately, the restaurant cant guarantee to seat you with people who want to make conversation. Its also worth noting that you can only pay cash presumably due to the dubious residency status of some of the employees. Not somewhere youd want to take a new love you are hoping to impress, but a very pleasant evening for two old married who are glad to have escaped the kids for the evening.