A.Wong has one of the biggest reputations in London. As in, it’s consistently called the best Chinese restaurant in town. So, is it?
Well, we can think of half a dozen Chinese spots we’d rather travel across town for, so for us, no, it isn’t. Yes, the food here is creative and interesting, and yes, it made finding a reasonable place to eat food in Victoria much easier when it opened. But aside from that, each meal that we’ve had at A. Wong has been somewhat underwhelming.
Part of the problem might be expectations. In our mind, A. Wong was going to be a revelation of modern Chinese cooking. In reality, it’s a relatively unassuming spot that serves up dumplings with foam on top of them. They also serve dumplings crafted to look like mushrooms, dumplings that look like fruits, and dumplings presented on a box overlaid with green ‘grass’ to make them evoke a woodland. That’s all nice and interesting, but none benefit hugely from the presentation.
As a matter of fact, the things that we have enjoyed the most at A. Wong have been the simple things - the things that don’t come with foam or inside of a diorama. The Singapore noodles are well-made and satisfying. The Dong Po pork belly is as good as pork belly gets. The sesame butter chicken is flavourful and interesting, but not because it’s shaped like a bird or something. It’s interesting because the flavours are complex and clear.
And maybe that’s the thing. If you go into a meal at A. Wong expecting to have your mind blown by tricks and presentation, then you’re probably going to walk away disappointed. But if you treat it like a great, laid back place in Victoria to meet up with some friends over Chinese food, you’ll come away perfectly happy. And maybe that’s a metaphor for life - less flash, more substance.
Then again, we’re pretty flashy.
This is really well-made, and holds together very well. More importantly, it tastes really good.
A Wong’s pork belly melts in your mouth the way you wish every piece of pork belly would. It’s a class act and if we were to come here for one dish only, this would be the one.
A Wong’s version of a pork and prawn dumpling comes with a wisp of foam on top - not sure what it brings to the party, but the bigger problem is that the dumplings themselves have been inconsistent and unpleasantly dry on occasion. You can skip these.
We came for dinner, and got a diorama. This mushroom-shaped dumpling comes on a mini-lawn that’s meant to evoke a wood. Or something. Another one you don’t necessarily need on your table.
This is one of the better versions of SG noodles in town - tasty and satisfying.
This orange carrot-shaped dumpling is undeniably creative, but it’s a pity that the flavour and scant filling doesn’t match the idea.
If you’re into offal, get this. It’s stewed in a spicy chili oil mix, and the pears are a nice touch that lifts the dish.