Wong Kei changed ownership in early spring 2014, amid rumours of refurbishment and a dramatic relaunch which garnered many column inches, even in the national press. Yet we can report that, as of our April 2014 revisit, virtually nothing has changed. It still has the same tired decor, the same perfunctory service, virtually the same Cantonese menu. Indeed, Wong Kei continues to conform to many outmoded stereotypes of a Chinatown restaurant. From the grimy carpets to the sometimes brusque service, impressions still do little to raise expectations.
The menu remains almost biblical in length, with dozens of stir-fries covering everything from pork to seafood. The rice can often be overcooked and the roast meats cold, but you do get free tea and huge portions for low prices.
Our stuffed bean curd, green pepper, aubergine ‘with meat’ in black bean sauce was the pick of our dishes, succulent and well-made, if variable in temperature from tepid to warm. Less impressive was a mound of rice topped with braised pork belly, as the promised preserved vegetables took some detective work to discover. A low point was the hotpot rice, as the sausage topping was meagre, if tasty. These particular dishes were inferior to many high street Chinese takeaway meals we’ve had.
In 'Wongkies' favour, the bill doesn’t have a hidden service charge added in. Too many other Chinatown restaurants are only too happy to add this (in Chinese script), then accept an additional service charge or tip as well, but not here.