Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Restaurants - HK Diner - Chinatown

HK Diner
22 Wardour Street, W1D 6QQ

An amazing, authentic Cantonese restaurant, this is one of my favourite and most frequented restaurants in London's Chinatown. The decor, ambiance and service is characteristically busy and no-nonsense, but the seating arrangement is mostly in booths which adds a small element of privacy to the restaurant. The food here is great - large, hearty portions - perfect for this time of year.

There are two menus, one in English serving up the usual mixture of stir-fries, sweet and sour pork, set menus etc.; and another one in Chinese on one side and English on the other - and this is where all the Cantonese gems can be found.

Chinese menu

English menu - with mostly the same dishes

I must say, I am always drawn to the same dishes containing braised meat with rice or noodles. I try to venture away from it, but it is just so good it always draws me back in. My favourite is the stewed beef rice  - tender meat and perfectly gelatinous tendons in a deep, rich sauce over a bed of rice. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! Apologies though, I'm sorry to say that this is where I will have to stop. Unfortunately this happened to be one of my more adventurous days (to a degree) - but I will be back soon and will review the dish when I have the photos!

As I said, an adventurous day, but only really in terms of changing the meat - I went with a traditional claypot dish - 'Stewed Pork Belly with Preserved Cabbage' (£9.00). The fatty pork was succulent and melted in the mouth, and although preserved vegetables can be a bit overpowering, here they added a great depth of flavour to the rich sauce. A fantastic dish. I will definitely be torn between this and the beef ho fun next time I'm here.

Stewed Pork Belly with Preserved Cabbage

Next up was a noodle soup. The soup broth at HK Diner is very good indeed, and it forms a solid base for a large variety of soup dishes. Here J. had chosen wantons and roast duck (£7.50), and although not strictly on the English menu it's just a case of asking for some small change. Anyway, it's hard to fault a good soup. The wantons were tasty and well steamed. The duck was good too, although not the best you will find in Chinatown - but the meat was good and the skin crispy.

Roast duck, wanton and noodle soup

Overall a really great meal, hits the spot when what you are after is something hearty and nourishing. The mains are reasonably priced (£7-10) and there is also a range of Asian drinks and desserts including bubble tea. Our lunch for two came in at around £20. Definitely a recommendable place to eat. Don't be put off by the few reviews that seem to be hung up on the lack service quality. The focus of a good, cheap Chinese restaurant is on the one important thing - the food.

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