Andrew Wong has completely transformed the Wilton Road restaurant that used to be Kym’s, since he took over the family business in 2013. The food that he cooks here explores the regions of China rather than just focusing on the Cantonese food that most UK Chinese restaurants serve. His Michelin star is well earned.
The lunch today was a selection of dim sum and snacks. Pickled cucumber was marinated in crisped, fermented chilli oil, which certainly gve it an unusual spicy dimension. (14/20). Aerated sesame puff with plum sauce was a hollow sphere that had plum sauce that could be applied to it via a paintbrush. This is a glutinous rice flour dumpling that puffs out as it is cooked. It had delicate texture, the sesame flavour coming through well, the plum sauce balancing the dryness of the puff (15/20).
Sichuan chicken and peanut bon bon was a semolina flour cracker filled with chicken, chilli, Sichuan pepper and peanuts; the numbing spiciness of the Sichuan pepper worked well to bring extra flavour to the chicken (14/20). Chinese chive pot sticker dumplings were filled with egg and Chinese chives and were topped with a spinach and egg white sauce. The effect was to have the dumplings served on a thin, crisp base. The dumplings were delicate and had plenty of chive flavour, the base bringing a complementary texture (15/20) Spare ribs were very good, marinated in black beans and cooked in a star anise caramel. The meat was tender and falling off the bone (14/20).
Scallop puffs had puff pastry topped with Australian scallop tartare in dried scallop XO sauce, a pretty dish with an interesting mix of textures (15/20). Xiao long bao featured ultra-thin dumplings, the dough rolled out dozens of times in order to keep it gossamer thin, the liquid pork inside lovely. This dish, popularised by the Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung, ideally has very thin dough yet must be strong enough not to leak its contents of meat and soup stock jelly. The dough is pressed in the Din Tai Fung case eighteen times. The version at A. Wong is sheeted thirty times and was definitely better than the ones I have tried at some Din Tai Fung branches. This was as good xiao long bao as I have eaten anywhere (easily 16/20).
Scallop cheung fun was an unusual take on the dish, featuring pieces of seared Lyme Bay scallop covered with gai lan, rice skin and dehydrated roe served in their shell. This was an attractive dish from a presentation viewpoint, but the scallops themselves had limited sweetness of flavour, and I feel could be better if higher quality scallops were used (13/20). Har gau and siu mai were more traditoinal dim sum classics. The har gau was made from a combination of tapioca, potato and wheat starch and had tender prawns (15/20). The siu mai was made from marinated pork with dehydrated garlic oil and spring onion (15/20). Rabbit and carrot glutinous puff was a clever dish made to look just like a carrot, a glutinous rice flour dumpling filled with rabbit meat and carrots, the flavour of the rabbit and carrot combining well (15/20). Laughing Buddha bun is a char siu bun but with a filling of vegetable gluten instead of pork, the texture light and fluffy, and an interesting variation of the old stalwart dish (14/20).
Gai lan and poached egg yolk steamed rice roll came with a sauce of sweetened soy, garlic, chill and coriander. This was also nice, the Chinese broccoli tender and the slow-cooked egg adding a hint of richness to the dish, the sauce nicely cutting through the richness of the egg (14/20).
Orange meringue dessert was a poached meringue with an orange sorbet centre. On the side were lychee granita with passion fruit ice cream and passion fruit puree, as well as mango cream with silken tofu and pomelo. This pretty dessert tasted ever bit as good as it looked, the granita unusually good, the orange flavour providing acidity and the mango and passion fruit bringing their aromatic quality to the dish. This dish could have come from a high end pastry section in a top French kitchen (easily 16/20).
Service, led by manageress Natalie (Andrew’s wife), was very good, and Andrew Wong was present in the kitchen, as he almost always seems to be despite his increasing commitments elsewhere. The bill came to £54 each with just tea to drink, for a very generous amount of food. The quality of the cooking here is high, the dishes inventive and interesting, and quite different from the other “posh Chinese” venues in London. Andrew Wong is ploughing his own culinary furrow, and London is grateful for it.