Ken Lo's Memories of China
Ken Lo's Memories of China is one of the first restaurants I ever visited in London. I first came here about 15 years ago (the restaurant opened 30 years ago) with my friend Kristine and her family and I have been coming here infrequently over the years. The restaurant is located next to were Kristine used to live in Victoria and she loved this restaurant.
I went to Ken Lo's Memories of China with my 3 friends for lunch. We had a table booked for a Friday lunchtime at 12 and when we arrived the restaurant was empty, but it did start to fill up by the time we left, although was not full. I can’t remember what the décor was like 15 years ago when I first went there but these days the décor is different and is light and bright with red chairs and light wooden Chinese style separating walls. The décor is very different to other Chinese restaurants in London, as most of them are darker (Hakkasan and Yauatcha) or more casual and have less colour and thought in their décor (Royal China and the likes), and it is a bit more casual than Min Jiang and Kai.
The menu is classic and features all the dishes you would expect to find in a Chinese restaurant. We ordered starters and main courses and then shared everything. The prawn crackers that they brought before our meal (I love it when restaurants do it, and these days so few do) were delicious, much better than what you buy in a shop. The starters range from £6.50 to £14.95 (on average £9) so it is more expensive than Royal China (where starters are £7 on average) but all the starters we ordered were excellent. We started our meal with vegetarian Crispy Spring Rolls, which were excellent (I think I have had too many cheap spring rolls so these got me so excited), the batter was light, there was not much of it and loads of nice vegetables. Delicious and healthier than your average spring roll. We also had “Three Spiced Squid” which I also thought was much better than in other Chinese restaurants, as the pieces were bigger, there was not that much deep frying going on and the flavour was good. There was less difference in Steamed Prawn Dumplings to how other restaurants make them, but nevertheless they were good, solid.
We also had a sneaky in-between course, a quarter of Sichuan Crispy Aromatic Duck. The duck was good (not too much fat which you can get in cheaper restaurants), the pancakes were great (did not break when you folded them) although for £13 this was not cheap and in other places you can get half of a duck for this price, but at least you know what you were paying for as the dish was better.
The main courses cost £16 on average for seafood dishes and £14 for meat dishes (more than the average £11 and £10 respectively you would pay in Royal China) but you could really taste the difference. We ordered steamed rice and egg fried rice as well as three main dishes “Iron-plate Sizzled Mixed Seafood in Black Bean Sauce”, “Cantonese Beef in Black Bean Sauce” and “Cantonese Beef in Oyster Sauce” as well as a plate of “Ginger and Broccoli” which the waiter said was one of their most popular dishes. The thing that really attracted my attention was how soft and tender the beef was in the two beef dishes. The two beef dishes tasted different, both good, and the beef was so lovely, much better than the beef you would get in an average Chinese restaurant, you could so feel the difference. I also very much enjoyed the seafood dish, they gave you many scallops, prawns and squid. The one thing that I thought the waters had overestimated though was the ginger and broccoli dish and I thought it was ok. The egg fried rice was so moorish I could not stop eating it.
There are various type of Chinese restaurants in London – the trendy (Hakkasan, Yauatcha), the cheaper/ more casual Sunday dim sum places (Royal China) and the ones with a contemporary twist (Min Jiang and Kai) and Ken Lo’s Memories of China does not fit into any of these descriptions. It is an upscale good Chinese restaurant that executes its food well but does not do a modern twist, it serves traditional food but done very well, which few restaurants these days do.
Date: 10/ 01/ 04
Price for 4 people with some alcohol: £188.60