Located just around the corner from my flat in Victoria, and much lauded by bloggers and critics alike, I’d been meaning to visit A. Wong for a long time. One sunny lunch time the opportunity finally arose and I made the short ten minute walk to the innovative Chinese restaurant on Wilton Street. At lunchtime the restaurant serves a dim sum menu and each heavenly piece can be ordered singularly, meaning that you can try as much as possible…and trust me you’ll want to!
We started with salt and pepper bean fritters, something I’d never had before. Green beans with a perfectly light coating of tempura and a really good whack of spice from the chilli. Certainly nothing bland about this vegetable dish.
Moving on to the delicious little steamed pockets themselves, our first taste of the actual dim sum were shrimp dumplings with sweet chilli sauce and citrus foam. The prawns inside were juicy and plump with the perfect balanced flavour of sweetness but a good hit of sour too. This was sweet and sour sauce but not as we know it, much more delicate, elevated and subtle but without scrimping on flavour.
Shanghai steamed dumplings must be eaten carefully with a spoon and one bite into the steamed skin releases a delicious liquid pork soup. As with the previous dumpling, I loved the hint of sourness coming through from the ginger infused vinegar as well as the perfect lightness of the morsel itself.
Head chef Andrew Wong, is great at creating Heston Blumenthal-style illusions and these wild mushroom and truffle steamed buns were nothing like I thought they would be. With the appearance of a large portobello mushroom, I bit into it expecting the slightly rubbery texture of a mushroom but instead it was a soft fluffy bun with the earthy flavour of truffle. Such a clever dish, and my favourite of the day. It’s innovative cooking like this that has led to A. Wong being awarded a Bib Gourmand, and I wouldn’t be surprised it there’s a Michelin star in the restaurant’s future.
Though my companion assured me that the taste of peanut wasn’t strong, I skipped the Sichuanese chicken and peanut bon bon, but she loved it! The bon bon is a great example of how Andrew Wong takes traditional Chinese dishes and reworks them into something innovative and less conventional. Though Andrew focussed on academia, cooking had always been in his blood with his parent’s running a Chinese restaurant for years on the site where A. Wong now stands. Andrew was studying Anthropology at LSE, when his father died and he returned to take over the family business, loving it so much that he enrolled in Westminster Kingsway Culinary School.
His modern, but so casual it’s almost canteen-like, restaurant now stands in the family’s restaurant space, formerly known as Kym’s. The menu reflects Andrew’s extensive travels through China, working in kitchens and studying the different characteristics of regional cuisines. At lunch dim sum is served but the dinner menu pays homage to dishes from across China including street snacks, sharing plates and wok-fried food. There’s also a ten-course tasting menu for £55 , but I have my eye on treating Mr S to the duck feast menu which is a very reasonable £45.
Next came a quails egg shrouded in pastry; I made the mistake of trying it first without the dipping sauce and it was a little bland. But once combined with the garlicky dressing, the perfectly cooked yolk of the egg and the delicate outer casing really comes alive.
My companion loved these perfect little round foie gras sticky sesame dumplings and pronounced the taste of liver not too strong…I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad thing but it depends how much you savour that rich buttery flavour.
Thin slices Cantonese honey roast pork weren’t over sweet and were the perfect way to round off the savoury dishes.
There was magic at work once again with our first ‘dessert’. Billed on the menu as ‘steamed duck yolk custard bun’, the pudding appears to resemble a peach but bite into it and the taste is of the most heavenly sugary doughnut oozing with sweet custard. There’s a crisp layer at the bottom which provides the perfect satisfying crunchy contrast with the soft, pillowy bun. This is a dessert heaven and I can see why critics such as Jay Rayner are huge fans.
The next dessert was beautifully presented, a meringue in two halves with orange sorbet inside along with mango puree topped with lychee granite and a little red packet of lotus roots. It’s kind of like a very clever deconstructed / reconstructed fruit platter ideal to cleanse the palate for what was coming next…
A perfect chocolate orb surrounded by nut crumble…
And as hot caramel sauce was poured on top…
It melted open to reveal cool ice cream and tea smoked banana. If you love banana, like me, you will adore this dessert, it’s like childhood comfort food but reworked as a perfectly delicious work of art. That’s the thing about A. Wong, the food is clever, but not annoyingly clever…there’s great skill at work but never to the detriment of taste.
Once we finished lunch, I popped done to the basement take a peak at the Forbidden City bar and made the decision to definitely head there for cocktails before dinner at A. Wong with Mr S. As I was leaving I was fortunate enough to chat to Andrew Wong himself, the passion I tasted in his food also comes across vividly when chatting to the chef and meeting him added another fantastic dimension to the experience.
I left A. Wong knowing that eaten somewhere incredibly special, dim sum that was far above and beyond the normal, and so happy to have a place like this right around the corner from me.
PIN FOR LATER:
70 Wilton Road
0207 828 8931
My lunch was complimentary.