Wong Kei is a restaurant close to my heart. Not because it is full of sweary and rude Chinese people (I am a little sweary but not in the least bit rude), but for two reasons. University and my betting shop.
Back in university days, we always thought it wise to try and fill ourselves up with carbs and protein before filling ourselves up with beer and spirits. Looking for a good cheap place to fulfill all of the requirements above, we would normally settle for a "crispy". A "crispy", to the uninitiated, would be a plate of crispy pork (siu youk) and rice covered in a thick gravy from Wong Kei's (or if we are reverting back to Uni speak, Wonkees). We tried others, but Wonkees was by far and away the best and we would always inevitably gravitate towards this restaurant above all others in Chinatown.
After university, I carried on my job as a bookie and was stationed in the Ladbrokes right next door to Wong Kei's. It must have been fate. Now all the sweary waiters were at my beck and call as I was master of their betting slips (I know its a stereotype, but Chinese like to bet, especially those in Chinatown). They started showing me a little more respect and all though they still swore at me in Cantonese and called me fat boy, I would often find myself the recipient of an extra large "crispy" or a few extra wonton in my soup if they had won big at the races.
History aside, I haven't been here in a while and when a few of my old uni mates suggested meeting up, all one of my friends had to do was utter the "c" word and we headed straight for Wardour Street. That's really where the nostalgia ends. The main draw for me was always the luscious gravy they poured over the meat to loosen and lubricate the dish, where most restaurants scatter a watery dribble over their roast meats. However, on this visit, It was overly sweet and over powered the still high quality roast meat underneath. Don't get me wrong, still good but the thing that made it great just so happened to leave a disappointing taste in my mouth.
Full and semi satisfied we happily stuck to the norm and topped up the carbs and protein with a healthy dose of beer and spirits. Let the good times roll.
Wong Kei - 41 Wardour Street, Soho, W1D 6PX