My favourite dodgy Chinese restaurant in the UK is reopening shortly, with polite staff.
Wong Kei was always amazing, and it’s high praise for Xiang Yuan in Sea Point that it invoked memories of the place. But while the staff at Xiang Yuan were polite, friendly and helpful, you couldn’t always say the same for Wong Kei. But that only added to the character of the place. You didn’t go in there expecting to be treated nicely; you went in there expecting fantastic food and rude waiters – and that’s what you got.
Its patrons were cajoled, bullied, insulted and mocked by waiting staff. Perversely, many diners loved it. Each night scores would queue up at the 500-cover restaurant to be verbally abused over the chicken satay and pork fried noodles.
To its fans, it was a refreshingly abrasive anomaly in an increasingly sanitised service industry. But this notoriety has been consigned to the past. Wong Kei’s operators have pledged to adopt a new, politer waiting style after a revamp of the premises.
With the reopening plans, Wong Kei will have to base its reputation solely on the fantastic food, which I’m sure will be just fine, but I can’t help but be sad at what is obviously the end of an era.