Rathbone Place is sandwiched between Fitzrovia and Soho and has always been one of those in-between places with no real identity. That seems to be changing with the opening of a number of new restaurants, including Lucy Wong, It’s primarily a cocktail bar, with food, and the name is inspired by the 1957 novel ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ by Richard Mason – set in Hong Kong in the late 1950s.
The imagined daughter of Suzie, Lucy Wong, is now reinvented as a glamorous London socialite and the bar and restaurant promises an evening of decadence and fun. It serves up Cantonese cuisine and signature cocktails informed by her mother’s past in Hong Kong. On a wet evening in April, it seems like a real adventure to take the stairs down below ground to enter the world of the Far East.
From the moment you walk in and go to the reception desk, it’s obvious that they’ve imaginatively recreated the Chinese ambience. Oriental etchings line the walls, lanterns hang from the ceiling and the long bar running the length of one wall is topped with striated marble. Wooden tall tables occupy the centre space, velvet banquettes line the walls and high chairs at the bar are waiting for customers.
Early on a Wednesday night the place is quietly buzzing, most people settling down for an evening of cocktails. Music is unobtrusive, seemingly Chinese pop from the 80’s, and it’s low enough for conversation. Live music is promised three nights a week with DJs on weekends. The mainly Asian waiting staff are immediately attentive and our water glasses are filled as we scan the menu.
Food & Drink
Signature Cocktails are the order of the day so I start with an excellent Dragon Old Fashioned made from Toki Japanese whisky, Baijiu coffee liqueur, vanilla sugar and 5 Spice Bitters. My partner, who’s not drinking, goes for a Panoma – Lyre’s Aperitif, grapefruit juice, jasmine tea syrup and peach & jasmine soda. It’s good start to the evening.
It’s obvious from the short menu that the place is designed for drink and food, rather than the other way around. It’s divided into Bar Snacks, Dim Sum, Roast Meats and Sides. So with our cocktails, we get some Prawn Crackers to dip into the spicy sauce then follow with Siu Mai from the Dim Sum menu. Four steamed Pork and Prawn dumplings are as authentic as you’d get in Chinatown, down the road and we begin to wish we’d ordered more.
Still, we need room for the Roast Meat Sharing Plate which comes with ample pieces of Cantonese Roast Duck, Char Siu Pork and Crispy Pork Belly. There’s a lot of tender meat here and we dip each portion into the appropriate sauces provided. All are good but the pieces of duck served on the bone, are a definite stand out.
From the Sides we choose Singapore Rice Noodles, glassy threads stir fried with slivers of vegetables which works well as an accompaniment. I want to try the Jellyfish & Cucumber with sesame seeds, chilli and coriander but my partner is too squeamish and forbids it. Perhaps next time.
Lucy Wong’s effortlessly conjures up the ambience of an oriental drinking den and its signature cocktails are well worth the journey. Pair them with the genuine Cantonese food and you’re guaranteed a night out in old Hong Kong.
Lucy Wong, 33-34 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1JN