Henry Wong in Harborne has been on my list of restaurants to try for a long time; its reputation for delicious Chinese food and luxurious dining experience precedes it. Though I rarely venture into Harborne (as I live on the other side of the city and, frankly, I’m lazy) when I was invited to a VIP blogger night at Henry Wong, I jumped at the chance.
Greeted with Laurent-Perrier Champagne on arrival and led through to a beautifully dressed table in the dining room, first impressions were VERY good. The menu had been devised especially for the night with 4 courses, each matched to a wine, although I was driving so sadly my one glass of Champers was all I had. Though when the food started arriving it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be your usual Chinese meal.
The Hors D’oeuvre was a trio of prawns with honey pepper, wasabi cream and garlic glazes. Large, sweet, juicy prawns were hidden in a light coating of batter with sweet and spicy honey pepper dressing, punchy wasabi and crisp garlic. The honey pepper glaze was my favourite, giving an almost candied feel to the prawn.
The lobster was presented to impress. Delicate lobster meat had already been extracted from the shell, while the head and claws were stood upright. The lobster had a subtle garlicy flavour and was cooked very well, I just wished there was more of it!
Alongside the lobster we also had spare ribs with chilli and pepper which were falling off the bone, spicy and spiked with peppercorns. I love ribs, so it isn’t hard to please me with them, but these were very good and I was pleased that they weren’t drowned in a sticky sauce, much easier to eat in polite company!
The mains consisted of sirloin steak in teriyaki sauce, crispy sea bass with sweet chilli sauce and Cantonese crispy chicken.
The sirloin steak was intensely savoury with a sprinkling of sesame seeds for crunch and nuttiness. The seabass was interesting, as I’d never seen it presented like this before. It was cut into strips, coated in a light batter and doused with sweet chilli sauce.
I must say though I felt the strength of the garlic and chilli in the sauce did overpower the seabass a little bit, and it would have been lovely to have seen it presented whole, but the dish as it was, tasted delicious.
My favourite though was the Cantonese crispy chicken. The chicken was presented in thick slices with crisp, crunchy skin, almost resembling duck. The chicken itself was very moist, and the crispy skin was to die for! I would certainly order this again.
Everything was served with bowls of Singapore noodles and fried rice. The Singapore noodles were really good, fresh, crunchy vegetables, thin vermicelli noodles and a good curry flavour with no greasiness at all. The fried rice was served with pineapple which I found unusual but actually quite pleasant when served alongside the savouriness of the teriyaki beef and the Cantonese chicken.
As much as it pains me to say it though, the service was slow. We had to wait a long time for the food to start arriving, and in the end I had to leave before dessert as it had got to half past 10 and I had an early start for work the next morning. That said, there were over 20 of us and the waiting staff were very attentive all night, so I can’t fault them on that, it was just a shame that I didn’t get to try the puddings. Next time I’ll be in for the night! Although I ducked out early, I was given a really generous goody bag with Chinese ingredients to take home, a bottle of wine from the night’s selection and even some Henry Wong chopsticks, which was a lovely touch.
The standard of the food was what really impressed me though, this was Chinese food but not as we know it. No cloying, sickly sauces, no deep fried balls of questionable stuff, just fantastic fresh ingredients, punchy, authentic flavours and a wonderful atmosphere. It could easily be the best Chinese I’ve had in Birmingham and I’m definitely keen to go back and sample more of the menu.
There’s a reason Henry Wong has been open for over 30 years. Long may it continue!
My meal was complimentary, many thanks to the team at Henry Wong & FU Media.
Special thanks to Jas Sansi for the use of his beautiful images of the evening.