The 12th November, 4:48 pm: e-mail received asking me to review Mr Wing, a Chinese restaurant in Earl’s Court.
4:49 pm: Apprehension begins. Past experiences of Chinese restaurants have never been favorable for me, but that is a different story in itself. Of course, I could have given it to somebody else, but a quick look on Mr Wing’s website reassured me that this could finally be the place to dampen my fears.
As I arrived I realized the Internet portrayal was spot-on: a modern, fresh and unique experience awaited me. Famous for its food, foliage and jazz, Mr Wing offers a non-conventional feel to a popular Chinese cuisine. My excitement levels grew as I walked down the staircase, past a flowing waterfall, to be seated in the sophisticated, chic, modern, ground-floor basement; a fish tank wall on one side of me, a tropical tree on the other. Wow. The first restaurant I’ve been to where I couldn’t care less how long they take to deliver my food, I had the ‘fat fish’ chasing Nemo and Dori around to keep me occupied.
But then you stop. Stop and realise how relaxing the atmosphere is, with a warm piano touch from the jazz pianist, with a hint of waterfall in the background and low lighting directed at your table. It was truly mesmerizing.
With a menu full of traditional Chinese dishes, this restaurant is not for those who struggle with decision-making. Their unique dishes are based on recipes from culinary capitals and regions across China, such as noodles from Beijing to hot spicy dishes from the southwest. After finally deciding, the horror on my face began at the realization I was about to receive a deep-end discovery of how to use chopsticks. Luckily, my steaming food, overpowering both the jazz band and the waterfall, was enough to drag my attention away from Nemo and Dori, to realise that thankfully knifes and forks were provided. Phew.
The Honeyed Barbeque Pork Ribs (£7.50) provide succulent meat, which literally falls off of the bone, leaving a lovely smoked barbeque after-taste. Accompanied with Thai prawn crackers (normal crackers with a uniquely spicy kick for £3.50) and Mixed Vegetable Lettuce Rolls (a warm mix of vegetables wrapped in a cold lettuce leaf, the Chinese answer to Fajitas for £9.50), this left my taste buds impatient for more.
Luckily, the main courses did not disappoint. As cruel as it felt eating fish next to a tropical fish tank, the Steamed Seabass Fillet with Ginger and Spring Onion (£17) added a sweet, textured feel to the tongue, complemented with the fresh Spring Onion and Egg Fried Rice (£4.50).The jazz-muting, sizzling, Cantonese Fillet Steak with Spring Onion and Ginger (£14.00) provided an understated tender meat mix with the overpowering ginger and undertone of onion. It was mouth-watering. Enough said.
After a short break of listening to the old-meets-modern jazz pianist, who plays the likes of Lady Gaga and Taio Cruz on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and desperately trying to associate the Acappella with the song name (Beware: it can get competitive to see who’s the quickest!), dessert definitely felt natural. With a collection of Haagen-Daaz ice creams or sorbets, fresh fruit and hot toffee apple or banana slices (£4.50); the dessert menu is short, but plenty to be excited about. Not being able to decide which dessert to choose, the perfect solution is to get them all, right? Now that was an interesting conversation with the waiter. The hot toffee banana slices were definitely not what I was expecting, think sweet and sour chicken balls crossed with banana, but I am sure somebody out there likes them! But what is sure, you cannot go wrong with Haagen-Daaz. Personal favourites were the Cookies & Cream and Belgian Chocolate scoops. That, mixed with the refreshing lemon sorbet, provided the perfect end to a fantastic evening.
Mr Wing can appeal to anybody, with a range of prices and dishes and I definitely recommend it. What I will say is that the prices may not be suitable for a standard night out for every student’s pocket. But it is certainly something you can book once-in-a-while for a fancy celebratory meal and you will not be disappointed. P.S. Remember, fish are friends, not food!
Mr Wing 242 Old Brompton Road London SW5 0DE. Nearest tube: Earls Court