I’ve pretty much given up keeping a list of all the places I want to eat, after realising it would probably be as long as Kerouac’s On the Road scroll. But if I had been keeping a list, Henry Wong’s would’ve been on the list for sure. Being a well regarded stalwart of the Birmingham food scene, before there was such a thing, it been somewhere I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while. So when an invite for a blogger’s event landed in my inbox, I figured it was finally time to find out what the fuss was about.
For thirty years, Henry Wong’s has been challenging the notion that Cantonese food is something you enjoy as take out on a lazy weekend or in an oriental version of a greasy spoon cafe. Personally I have a bit of an affinity with these ramshackle places where the food is tasty, the plates are plastic and you’re all but ignored once the transactions of money and food are done. But having visited upmarket Cantonese restaurants elsewhere (once for a family wedding which was all kinds of impressive), I was keen to see if Henry Wong’s could match them and deliver great food along with ambiance they proudly boast about.
Whilst waiting for everyone to arrive, I had a Citrus Summer Sensation cocktail; it was a pretty simple cocktail, but the fizz from the ginger ale complemented the gin and the hint of citrus was a nice touch. I’ve recently been to another restaurant in Harborne with a bar, it was nice to find another with decent cocktails, although this had a more relaxed feel which I enjoyed. Once everyone had arrived we were take through to an impressive table in a section of the restaurant which would be great for big occasions.
We started with a trio of prawns; honey and pepper, wasabi cream, and garlic. Whilst all three were good, the garlic was probably my preferred, but I always enjoy being able to try different things in one dish. This was paired with Dr Loosen Red Slate Riesling which had floral and citrus notes which really worked with the prawns.
With such a large group, there were around 17 in total, the wait for the mains was understandably a little delayed but gave me a fine chance to catch up with everyone. The presentation from all the dishes was outstanding and I enjoyed the sort of flamboyant reverie the lobster was displayed with and demanded, it was certainly a ‘look at me’ sort of dish. Thankfully we didn’t have to attack it as meat had been prepared for us, along with Longhorn sirloin steak in Teriyaki sauce. Both were lovely, but of the mains for me the crispness of the sea bass skin contrasting with the glutenous sweet chilli sauce was a particular highlight.
I can’t remember the last time I had dessert in a Cantonese restaurant (or cafe) but if the presentation for the mains was impressive, this was a real show-stopper. A hollowed ice ball containing an array of fruits, along with a mixed fritter and vanilla ice cream, served alongside Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec was a delightful ending to a fantastic evening.
It’s hard to judge a place on an event, particularly when it’s for such a large group, not least a group of bloggers. But the food, the drinks and the experience made me want to bump it higher up the scroll for a return visit and sample some more of their Cantonese cuisine…and on proper plates too.
Disclosure: All drinks and food were provided complimentary on Henry Wong’s. As ever views remain my own and honest…much like the Laissez-faire lobster.