Andrew Wong, all the faces of China in London

The story of an Anglo-Chinese chef who went in search for his origins and then translated them into a successful restaurant in Victoria

16-02-2017

Andrew Wong, 35, British of Chinese origins, chef at restaurant A Wong in London. With a classic French cuisine background, he left for a 3-year-long tour of China. Today he sums up all the very different traditions of an immense country in the tasting menu (photo by Zanatta)

The neighbourhood near Victoria Station in London is certainly not one of the most popular in town. What with business hotels and restaurant chains catering for offices it’s hard to find Londoners discovering the neighbourhood or strolling in search for restaurants. There’s an exception: a restaurant quietly opened on Wilton Road in the spring of 2013.

The story of Andrew Wong prior to the opening explains why people in town are increasingly interested in the cooking evolution of this 35-year old talent. Born to a family of restaurateurs, Andrew had been living in London since his childhood. As he didn’t have any contact with China, where his parents were originally from, he decided he didn’t want to remain in the family business, an ordinary Chinese restaurant in the same location now hosting his restaurant.

He spent the first year at university studying chemistry at Oxford. He then decided to move to the London School of Economics, where he graduated in Social Anthropology. All of a sudden, an episode changed his life completely. His father passed away. This made a very young Andrew feel responsible, so he decided to reconnect with his family and even more so with Hong Kong, his mother’s hometown. So at 23 he went on a 3-year-long tour of China, with the aim of adding as much as he could of the infinite culinary culture of a “continent” to his classic French cuisine training.

The specialty? The brimming Dumplings in the lunch menu

The specialty? The brimming Dumplings in the lunch menu

Speaking of “Chinese cuisine” is very reductive: the country has eight main cuisines, with different variations according to season, products, territory, ethnicity. In Hong Kong there’s Cantonese cuisine, one of the most popular internationally together with Sichuan cuisine. It was because of this complexity that Andrew made A Wong an eclectic place, where you can find dishes from multiple regions in the same place and during the same service.

One of his specialties is Dim Sum, the most representative dish in Hong Kong’s Cantonese cuisine. It’s not just dumplings but generally speaking small nibbles either steamed or fried and usually served in tea houses, in the typical bamboo baskets with a steaming trolley so as to guarantee their freshness. The lunch menu includes over 40 different types: vegetarian, with crustaceans (a Cantonese specialty), pork, and sweet too. It’s an endless feast, in which you can enjoy the infinite variety of flavours that play with contrasts but most of all with delicateness. Indeed the cooking in Hong Kong is the lightest in all of China.

At night A. Wong changes into a different restaurant, in which the entire complex and varied Chinese cuisine is showed off, with the “Taste of China” tasting menu. In 10 dishes, Andrew Wong has summed up the flavours of each region, from the fragrant spiciness of Yunnan’s tofu to the stronger braised seafood flavours from the province of AnHui. The evening dumplings enclose a melting broth that invades the palate with a fresh acidity, while the dinner becomes a playful experience with the small rolls to be made at the table with braised lamb, a typical dish from Shaanxi.

The taste of China, as told by a young man who still has much to learn about his origins but has already found a very elegant way of expressing oriental flavours in one of the best value for money menus in London. A further reason for Londoners to change neighbourhood, from time to time, and visit Victoria as well.

A Wong
70 Wilton Road
Victoria, London
+44.(0)20.78288931
Tasting menu: 60 pounds
Closed the whole day on Sunday and at lunchtime on Monday