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“Nostalgia is a seductive liar”
The other day I decided to go for a wee walk, the day was charming so I decided to walk from Maxwell Park to the City centre.
On this occasion, the Foodwala kids decided to come out of hibernation and looked in wonder at the bright yellow object in the sky, which I duly explained was the sun and it comes out very few times in a year.
So to celebrate the coming of the strange object they also decided to come for a walk, you must understand that in itself is groundbreaking, firstly coming out of hibernation during daylight hours and secondly, walking, as the preferred mode of taxi of teenagers is dad taxi.
So off we went…when we reached the River Clyde, a car was idling on the footpath and I could hear the song
“Heart” by the Pet Shop Boys
All of a sudden it took me back to 1988 and when the Garden Festival was in full flow, I could remember the one-loop roller coaster and the half-finished Moat House being built across the river, it felt as if it was yesterday.
Further along our walk, we walked past a gap site on Sauchiehall Street, a street artists speaker was belting out
“When will I be famous” by Bros
This again brought back more waves of 80’s Nostalgia, and the times we visited Victoria’s after work, I can still remember the trek up the mirrored staircase to the young trendy “left” room or the oldie piano “right” room. we had many a teetotal night out there.
our walk continued, now Downhill, and ended up on York Street, where a busker was butchering the 80’s classic
“Sign my name across my heart” by Terrence Trent D’arby
This I explained, to the now clearly exhausted and hungry kids, was the spot of the famous 80’s Chinese restaurant… Ho Wong’s, this was the go-to Chinese restaurant for all the great and the good and shoulder pad-wearing movers and shakers of Glasgow.
The Ho Wong had closed down recently I explained… but hold on, there was a sign on the window… The Ho Wong has just opened on Waterloo Street.
So we decided on another trip down memory Alley, We found the Ho Wong and when we entered it was as if they had just upped sticks and moved to this location, the decor was still the same, the teal green walls and the jade statues.
I was once reliably informed that Tony had gone to Cheong Fatt Tze’s, Teal Mansion In Penang to get inspiration for the decor.
Since we were famished we kicked off with some Prawn Crackers
Although they hit the spot, the crackers were the standard fayre found in any given oriental restaurant.
First up we chose the quintessential Prawn Toast, yes it was an old-school choice, and yes it was golden and crispy, and yes it had a shrimp taste, however, it lacked a little punch, that umami kick.
The Crystal Chilli King Prawns were delicious, the butterfly-cut king prawns were stuffed and then cooked to a golden crisp.
Har Gow prawn dumplings are by far the most artistry of Dim Sum, with the bright pink chunks of fresh shrimp veiled through the thin, stretchy, chewy, delicate, and translucent wrapper. This really showcases the Dim Sum chefs’ art.
The stuffing was not as soft as I was expecting, possibly it had not rested enough, as the old Chinese saying goes, Har Gow should be soft as an ear lobe.
The Sauteed Chicken was diced and stir-fried, to be honest, it was bland and boring, possibly if you were on a low-carb diet then this is the one to pick but I have had better in PF Changs, I realise that comment is sacrilege.
Next up was the fermented black beans with peppers and onions and chicken.
The chicken was definitely parboiled, as in most restaurants and stir-fried, the peppers and onions were lovely and al dente and the sauce was delicious morish and umami however the chicken was a little rubbery and overcooked.
The Star of the show, King Prawns are generally tricky to get right, cook too little they get slimy, and over cook they get rubbery, but these were done just right, plump and juicy, the natural flavour was further enhanced with the soy based jus and the spring onions and root ginger…first class
The sweet and sour chicken is a journeyman dish in most Chinese restaurants… a safe choice for those with a less adventurous outlook on life.
The nuggets of chicken were fried and then tossed in the sweet and sour sauce, decent but boring.
Ho Wong is undoubtedly an institution with many a loyal following, however, nostalgia is a seductive lier, we only remember the good things from the past, our childhoods were always full of fun, with endless summers and great friends, most of the time it was the exact opposite. this is also the case with Ho Wong, we always thought the food was better than it was.
It is possible to say Ho Wong is in an 80’s time warp where many other restaurants for example A Wongs in London have moved on from the western version of Chinese food to a more authentic version and have won a Michelin Star
The Service was a little abrupt and sharp, still attentive but not what you call friendly.
The Star of the Meal?
The King Prawns with Spring Onion and Ginger was the star of the show.
The miss of the Meal?
I would go for the chicken lettuce and the sweet and sour chicken, although there was absolutely nothing “wrong” with the dishes, they were just a little boring and ho-hum.
Now how does Ho Wong stack up with some of its peers in Glasgow, I would rate Opium as number one, with its imaginative menu and superlative food, secondly Lychee Oriental in Mitchel Street is another restaurant who have overtaken Ho Wong while it has been closed.
Further afield we have the amazing A Wongs in Pimlico who transformed into a more authentic experience.
The Chicken and Beef are confirmed 100% Halal
Alcohol is served on the Premises
Pork is served on the Premises
100% impartial Guarantee
Alfie Foodwala visits all restaurants anonymously and pays for the bill like any other customer, Alfie Foodwala does not accept free meals in return for reviews.