Review: A Wong, Victoria

Goldfish dumplings! Awwww!qGoldfish dumplings! Awwww!

Goldfish dumplings! Awwww!

I could not stop laughing at the goldfish dumplings. An awful lot of effort had gone into artfully crafting something so beautifully naff. And I just didn’t get the dish either. The little goldfish had minced prawn inside them, which was a bit boring, and were accompanied by a piece of seared foie gras. Why? No idea. Luckily this was the one single oddity in a dinner of otherwise beautiful and delicious Chinese cooking in A Wong.

They do the small-plate-not-small-plate thing here. Where you just order whatever you like, but they suggest ordering one dish from the first section (that looks suspiciously like starters) and one dish from the next section (crispy duck and other pancake-wrapped things) and one or two dishes from the next section (shall we call it… mains?). Gosh. Almost like a traditional Chinese restaurant.

Street tofu

Street tofu

Anyway, all our small plates were brilliant. “Chengdu street tofu” was a bowl of beautiful silken tofu jumbled with veg, peanuts and a warm chilli kick. “1000 chilli chicken and snails” had an even brighter puff of chilli in the mouth, taken up another notch with citrusy Sichuan pepper. “Moo shu pancake wraps” was a rather salty concoction of unctuous pork, wood ear mushroom and egg with pieces of crispy tofu skin to add scrunch once you’ve got it all wrapped in the rice pancakes. Crispy duck was crispy duck, a perfectly good specimen.

“Dong po slow-braised pork” were deeply sticky and gloriously sweet slices of belly pork topped with crispy lotus root. The “Market veg” were stir-fried greens with a pleasing juicy saltiness, lifted with spring onion oil, and then topped with lots of generous black truffle. “Gong Bao chicken” was good. “Goldfish dumplings” were hilarious, as noted.

Dim sum

Dim sum

Oh, and for a Chinese restaurant they REALLY rocked the desserts. Poached meringue with fruit textures included an array of all your favourite tropical fruits, from mango cream and lychee sorbet to passionfruit, all brightly full of flavour. Okay, perhaps the chocolate, banana and truffle dish was a bit of a jumble. Nice enough if you have to have a chocolate pud, though. My favourite was the very left-field “Coconut water ice, blackberries, Xinjiang mulberries, yoghurt and mochi”. The water ice was just that, definitely not a sorbet. The berries likewise. And the yogurt. Somehow I felt transported to the icy Xinjiang mountains on a sunny autumn day.

To be fair, at this point we’d got through a couple of bottles of very good wine! Quite a reasonable wine list too, varied and fair priced. I really enjoyed the meal at A Wong and am dying to come back for dim sum one lunchtime. You’d probably pay £45 each without drinks for dinner, and that’s probably fair for the top-notch inventive Chinese cuisine.

Ice, ice, baby

Ice, ice, baby

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