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Heritage by Matt Gillan, Slaugham (West Sussex), United Kingdom

I have known Chef Matt Gillan since about 2012 when he was at The Pass at South Lodge Hotel in Horsham, and I have always loved his cooking. He then moved to Brighton and did a pop-up and then heading up Pike & Pine / Red Roaster Coffee – a bit further away from me but I still managed to find excuses to go and enjoy his food whenever I could. In 2019, he launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money for his latest venture – Heritage restaurant in Slaugham. I didn’t even have to think twice to support him on this. It was so good to see him smashing the original target of £60,000 in about 10 days, and it went on to raise over £89,000 in the end.

For my 50th birthday, I always had the plan to have a big party with friends, and quite a few of them would fly in from other parts of the world also. I spent ages agonising where to have the party, and it didn’t take me too long to decide to have it at Heritage. Restaurant was booked a few months before the party, but I was just waiting to work out the number of people to invite and decide whether to take over half the restaurant or whole restaurant. However, Covid lockdown hit in March 2020 and my plan was shelved. But I was determined to make the party happen when the pandemic started to ease, and I wanted to keep the promise of having it at Heritage – not just because it’s a relatively new business and I have a lot of respect for Matt to start a business like this, but I know his team would do a fine job and I want it to be a memorable occasion. So, 18 months later, I managed to have the party with a reduced guest list which meant that we would only take up half the restaurant that evening – after all, international air travel was still a mess and most friends who live abroad didn’t feel comfortable to meet up yet.

Instead of writing a review of a “normal” meal, I thought I’d tell you about my birthday party dinner which put Matt and his team into a more pressurised situation (serving 17 people at the same time is not easy, especially you are expecting high quality cooking and not just mass-catering stuff)! The 7-course menu was designed by Matt and all I requested was a dish with bacon jam (which was so amazing when I had it at The Pass many years ago), and soy sauce pannacotta – I left the rest of the choices to him. He must know me well enough and came up with the menu that required no modification at all – basically all the dishes and ingredients that I would quite happily order if I see them on his a la carte menu! A few of my friends had various dietary requirements (from vegan/vegetarian to various allergies) and that must have been a bit of a nightmare – but everyone’s request has been catered for, with slightly different dishes to get round their dietary issues.

We had a whole area outside the dining area to ourselves to enjoy cocktails/bubbly and catch up with each other first, which was really nice as it’s separated from the rest of the restaurant. It’s a good way to catch up with friends that I haven’t seen for ages (thank you Covid!).

To start off, it’s a quartet of snacks.

Then the freshly-baked bread arrived. If you think “hey, it’s only bread, do you really have to put a picture of the bread up?”, then let me tell you – you have to try his bread to understand why I like this place. At many restaurants I would usually limit the amount of bread I eat – partly because I find that most bread just fills up my stomach and then I feel bloated afterwards. But not with the bread here – I always end up finishing it. Sometimes I got asked if I wanted another one, but I am often sensible enough not to accept a second bread roll.

My first special request then arrived – I specifically asked Matt to include a dish with his bacon jam, which is just something out of this world. And he created this pork scratching with bacon jam and roasted apple. How he knows I love pork scratching I have no idea. But this has a light crunchy texture to it, and the sweetness of the ham works well with the apple too.

Jerusalem artichoke is not something I’d cook at home, and I usually find that at restaurants I either love it or hate it, depending on how it’s cooked. This version – I love it! There’s a comforting texture when I bite into it, and the combinations of all the flavours just work so well together.

The fish course is BBQ monkfish, and this dish is just amazing. Being Chinese, I am very picky with how well the fish is cooked, and so there are very few places that I would be happy with the fish (Nathan Outlaw or Tom Brown would be two of the chefs who can cook fish to perfection). However, the flavour of this monkfish dish that Matt has created is impressive – there’s a certain curry flavour which works well with the tomato fondue and the pickled ginger. The squid is cooked perfectly also and there’s no chewiness to it. (And just a side note – I had this dish again 2 months after this party, just before Christmas 2021, and it’s got even better!)

The meat course is breast and leg of duck. Now, again, without me prompting Matt, he has chosen my favourite meat for the main course. The meat is so tender and melts in the mouth. The sauce is not too rich and compliments well with the flavour of the duck.

The first dessert is a special request from me. Many years ago at The Pass Restaurant, one of the dishes that I remembered well was the pannacotta with soy sauce – at that time, it’s almost unheard of any western chefs would use soy sauce in a dessert, and Matt was probably the first chef that I have come across who did just that. So I requested that (and actually I have raved about this for years, that my friend George, who flew all the way in from New York for the birthday party, also hinted that she wanted it too!). Delicious? Hell yes!

The last course was hazelnut parfait with baked apple sorbet and apple tart. I am very picky when it comes to the quality of hazelnut and have actually been dreading this dish as a result. Just don’t ask me why I should even doubt Matt the slightest bit – this is a perfect finish to the spectacular 7-course birthday meal. If anything, I could have had a 2nd helping of this dessert (and a 3rd, and a 4th….)

We were all very well looked after by the front of house team, and the food was amazing. Was it a perfect birthday party? Yes – I think all my friends left with happy stomachs and great big smiles on their faces.


Address: Heritage, The Chequers, Slaugham, West Sussex, RH17 6AQ, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)1444 401102
Website: https://heritage.restaurant/


Opening Hours: Thursday – Saturday: Noon – 1:30pm lunch ; 6:30pm – 8:00pm dinner / Sunday 12:30pm – 1:45pm lunch

Food: 9/10
Ambience: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 19/20 [Based on multiple visits in Sept 2019 – Dec 2021]

A Wong, London, United Kingdom (Part 2 – A La Carte Dinner)

A Wong, London, United Kingdom (Part 2 – A La Carte Dinner)

This is the second part of the review of Restaurant A Wong in London – if you haven’t read the first part on the A Wong’s dim sum lunch, you should also read it!

The style of cooking at A Wong does not resemble what you find in a typical Chinese restaurant – without experiencing the food, often people would have mistaken it as “westernised” Chinese cuisine. However, Chef Andrew Wong has travelled around China extensively before opening his restaurant and his wealth of knowledge in regional Chinese cuisine, through his research, amazes me – the way I’d describe his cooking is modern Chinese cooking, giving some of the classic dishes a 21st-century twist and improving the dishes by taking a different perspective on the cooking techniques. Not everyone would understand or appreciate Chef Wong’s work – I have heard a few Chinese people not liking this place, because of the price point but also not the standard fare in other Chinese restaurants.

I have dined at A Wong many times over the years, and the menu has constantly evolved – the following are some of the dishes I have eaten and enjoyed in the last 2 years.

One thing I rarely order at Chinese restaurants is the crab claw (釀蟹鉗). Don’t get me wrong – I love stuffed crab claws but many restaurants do it the same way and it’s almost like coming straight out of a production line. The way it’s done at A Wong – I must admit I have not seen it done like this before. It resembles the look of a sea urchin (except the colour) – the “spines” are actually made from deep-fried rice vermicelli, and then stuck into the round ball containing the crab meat and scallop. The flavour does remind me of the typical crab claw, but this is far less greasy than the usual crab claws, and with the ultra-crispyness of the vermicelli, the contrast in texture is more pronounced and interesting.

Another of my favourite snacks / appetisers is the Chengdu street tofu – the mixture of the soy sauce and chilli sauce works so well together with the beancurd, crunchy peanuts, the preserved vegetables and chopped spring onions. Definitely order one for each person – it’s not something you would want to share! Whilst it has chilli oil in the sauce, it’s not too spicy and so unless you are totally intolerable to chilli heat, you should be fine with this!

One of the signature dishes which is perfect for sharing is the Shaanxi Lamb Burger (肉夾饃): the “burger” is the gua bao which is a kind of open steamed buns from Fujian province in China, and is a perfect way to make your own burger. The filling is made from a mixture of pulled lamb (slow-cooked in a sauce for a few hours), shredded lettuce, pickled onion and pomegranate salad, coriander, white sesame seeds and a sesame dressing – you mix them all together and then just fill the bao up! The first time I had this, it did remind me of my trip to Xi’an – with the influence of the Muslim community in the cuisine in that part of China. The “Xinjiang” salad is almost linking the Chinese section of the Silk Road together, and this plays an important part of the muslim culture in China.

Another sharing dish that I have discovered and am very impressed with is the “moo shu” pork (木須肉). It’s a dish that I would never dream of ordering usually because it’s done quite badly in many Chinese restaurants, but I fell in love with it when Andrew gave it to me to try! The flavours of the pork and wood ear fungus are perfectly balanced with the sauce, and the different ingredients provide an interesting mix of texture. The dish is served with pancakes, hoi sin sauce and spring onions, so you would eat it in the same way as Peking duck / crispy duck. For the gluten-intolerant folks, the pancakes can be replaced by lettuce, which is more similar to what many Chinese restaurants would do.

A dish that I haven’t seen for years was the steamed king crab with egg white (賽螃蟹) – this was actually an Imperial dish created in the Qing dynasty in China. Empress Dowager Cixi wanted to eat crab but the Imperial kitchen didn’t have any, and so the chefs cooked the egg white to mimick the texture of the crab meat! It’s not easy to achieve this kind of texture in the egg white, and so I haven’t seen it much outside China – I think the last time I saw this dish was in Shanghai over 10 years ago!

A relatively new dish is the steamed cod cheek – this is served on the bone…. I am not so sure how non-Chinese people view this dish as you have to know where to find all the meat, but it’s no challenge for Chinese to eat it (I’d like to think that it’s in our genes to eat fish cheek). However, the sauce is the star here – the mixture of the sweetness, sourness (typical flavour of Hunan cuisine) and the warm heat from the chilli in the sauce is a perfect accompaniment to a bowl of plain rice!

A few other dishes are worth ordering, especially if you happen to order a bowl of rice to soak up the sauces:

From February 2022 onwards, the restaurant will no longer offer a la carte menu in the evenings. Instead a set menu for the day will be served. I suspect some of these dishes I have mentioned will be featured on this menu – I will provide an update after my next visit to A Wong for this “secret dining” experience.


Address: 70 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1DE, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)207 828931
Website: https://www.awong.co.uk/

Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12PM -2:30PM, 5:30PM -10PM


Food: 10/10
Ambience: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 20/20 [Based on numerous visits 2013 – 2021]

A Wong, London, United Kingdom (Part 1 – Dim Sum)

A Wong, London, United Kingdom (Part 1 – Dim Sum)

I’ve lost count how many times I have been to Restaurant A Wong over the years – as long as someone wants to have a good Chinese meal, this is one of the very few Chinese restaurants in London I would take them to. The list of friends who want to go there with me seems to be growing all the time, especially in the last few months when the restaurant won 2 Michelin stars, the first Chinese restaurant outside Asia to have achieved this level of success.

I have to split the review of this restaurant into 2 parts, otherwise it will be too long to read in one go. Also the dim sum lunch and the a la carte dishes are quite different and I think they merit separate reviews.

For dim sum, this is not the place to go if you only want to spend £20 per person (go to Chinatown instead!). However, the dim sum lunch here is impressive, whether you order a la carte or the “Touch of the Heart” set menu.

Take the Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) for example – being a real lover of Shanghai soup dumplings and also been to Shanghai several times, I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about Xiao Long Bao. Many Chinese restaurants in the UK that serve this dish can be disappointing (Min Jiang in Kensington being the only exception). At A Wong, don’t expect a list of fillings to choose from, and you won’t find a serving dish of vinegar with julienned ginger on the side – instead, the vinegar is already injected into the soup dumplings. The dumpling is plump and filled with a generous amount of filling, whilst the skin is thin and translucent – unless you pick this up in a rough way, the skin doesn’t break apart despite the weight. A fine example of a good xiao long bao.

There are some of the standard dim sum such as har gow (蝦餃) and siu mai (燒賣) but they have additional elements added to them…..

One of the more recent additions to the dim sum menu is the “scallop cheung fun” (帶子腸粉) – Isle of Mull seared scallop and honey glazed Iberico pork cheung fun. Instead of just steamed rice roll with scallop and pork instead, the A Wong version is presented like a sandwich – the layers of deep-fried spring roll pastry gives this a very interesting contrast in texture, and the flavour and the delicious fat of the Iberico pork works so well with the scallop.

Another dish that I really like is the wonton with garlic, chilli oil and soy poached yolk (红油抄手) – the addition of the egg yolk just gives the sauce a creaminess texture. But be warned – if you can’t cope with spicy food, you may not enjoy this as much. It won’t blow your head off, but it does have a kick to it. And for those who loves spicy food, keep the sauce and order a bowl of plain rice – You won’t regret it!

When it comes to presentation, the 999 layered scallop puff with XO oil (帶子酥) does look impressive. The threads of pastry wrapping round the filling and the delicate texture reminds me of silk worms in their cocoons (not that there’s any silk worms in the dish!). The flavour is amazing also.

Other dim sum dishes you may want to explore would include the abalone flaky tart with aged balsamic vinegar (酥皮鲍鱼撻) and rabbit and carrot glutinous puff (兔肉咸水角).

No matter how many dishes you have ordered or how full you feel, one piece of advice – make sure you order the steamed duck yolk custard bun (流沙包)! The salted duck egg yolk custard bursts out of the perfectly shaped bun when you cut into it – imagine when you cut into the most decadent lava cake and the liquid just oozes out! The custard bun is like that, but million times better!

As I mentioned, there will be a separate post about the a la carte dishes…. (When I get round to write it)

Address: 70 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1DE, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)207 828931
Website: https://www.awong.co.uk/

Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12PM -2:30PM, 5:30PM -10PM

Food: 10/10
Ambience: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Total: 20/20 [Based on numerous visits 2013 – 2021]