Review of 'Lan Kwai Fong'

Always interested in dim sum we jumped at a Time Out offer of “64% off bottomless food at Lan Kwai Fong” in Camden. Normally £55 each the offer was for £19.50 each (including a glass of prosecco - though I had Jasmine tea as a substitute) so a bargain though I am not sure I would ever pay £55…

Lan Kwai Fong is named after an area of the same name in Hong Kong with the menu mostly Chinese (not specifically Cantonese, which is what you get in Hong Kong) but with a few popular Asian dishes thrown in. Lan Kwait Long is located on the busy Chalk Farm Road a short distance from the Roundhouse theatre and right across the street from the walls of the market. The interior is basic but relaxed with a small bar on the left, the open kitchen up at the back right with a small electronic game room beside it. The clean and modern toilets are in the basement beside a small private event room. When we visited on a Sunday for lunch (a traditional time for dim sum) it was about 50% full and there were plenty of staff on hand to take our orders.


For the money having pre-booked via email we were able to choose options from a set menu which is a single sided A4 paper of 35 dishes split into “Dim Sum & Dumplings”, “Bun/Bao”, “Small Bits”, “Neo-Tokyo” (sushi rolls), “Veggies” (just edamame), “Noodles & Rice (Served small bowl style)” and “Happy Endings” (one item “Deep fried egg yolk bun”). The unlimited deal we had was for 90 minutes with our choosing 3 items each to start then, after finishing, choosing one additional item (each) at a time. For us we were able to take great advantage of it and time was not a problem as we finished 10-15 minutes before our time was up.

Deep fried squid, sweet chilli sauce/Crispy prawn dumpling

Having checked off our first options they started arriving quite quickly. We started with “Deep fried squid, sweet chilli sauce” which was not chewy, very fresh but, sadly, not spiced on it's own with the sweet chilli sauce, as is it's want, overpowering any flavour from the squid. Still, very moorish. This was accompanied by “Crispy Prawn Dumplings” which were quite a surprise looking as they did like regular rice-wrapped steamed dumplings that had been deep fried - Unusual to say the least but tasted OK with a distinct lack of any big flavour of seafood (a reoccurring theme in the meal where many of our seafood dishes had little in the way of seafood). We also ordered a “Crunchy Spice Tuna Roll” (not pictured) that was quite tasty and prepared quite well (for a Chinese restaurant), full of flavour.

Spicy pork xiao-long-bao/Steamed dumplings with chicken & sweetcorn

The “Spicy pork xiao-long-bao” dumplings took me back to fond memories of Shanghai with a small amount of delicious juice inside these volcano-shaped steamed dumplings. The “Steamed dumplings with chicken & sweetcorn” were good with a surprising amount of veggies and only a small amount of chicken.

Glutinous rice with chicken & pork sausage wrapped in lotus leaf

We love sticky rice so could not resist the “Glutinous rice with chicken & pork sausage wrapped in lotus leaf” and though the parcels were quite small, were quite tasty with only a small amount of filing inside the rice. Would have been nice to have had more or, indeed, any sausage.

Juicy barbecued pork bun/Cantonese shrimp dumplings

The “Juicy barbecued pork buns” were good, if a bit small though the small amount of filling was delicious. The “Cantonese shrimp dumplings” (trying again to see if we can find any seafood) were good though had only a small amount of shrimp inside. Certainly nothing to pay any serious attention to.

Spring roll, pure veggie

The “Spring roll, pure veggie” were small but very tasty, fresh out of the fryer and, surprisingly, without the presence of beansprouts though this was welcome with the veggie filling very tasty.

Sauces (hot and hoisin)

Sauces accompanied various dishes as they were brought to the table, as you might expect. It was nice to see the traditional chilli pepper sauce as well as hoisin, “light” (Kikoman) soy sauce and a specific, light, dipping sauce for the spring rolls.

Spicy duck dumplings

The “Spicy duck dumplings” were a bit of a surprise: Oddly elongated steamed dumplings filled with a duck and veggie mix. Very tasty if a bit difficult to pry away from the steaming paper they sat on.

Sichuan-style spicy pork wonton

Another surprise was the “Sichuan-style spicy pork wonton which were steamed and served in a small bowl topped with crispy fried onions (and sliced spring onions though these more for show than anything else). Probably one of the more flavourful dishes of the day with a good amount of pork.

Shredded smoked chicken

Yet more interesting dishes with “Shredded smoked chicken” which looked a lot like what you might expect “salt and pepper squid” to look like with slivers of chicken fried and topped with salt and slices of hot peppers. These were probably the star of the show as they were not overcooked so despite being crispy the chicken was still tender inside.

Fish cake, Thai chilli sauce

A big disappointment was the “Fish cake, Thai chilli sauce” which looked a lot like the frozen Thai fish cakes you would find in a supermarket with very little flavour and, to my companion, a disagreeable texture. Greasy and uninspiring.

Crystal prawn dumplings

I finally hit gold, or in our case, seafood with the “Crystal prawn dumplings” which contained a good amount of, yes, prawn! Not a flavour sensation but at least it was present in the typical staple of any dim sum meal (typically eaten with a small amount of chilli sauce).

Pad Thai noodles with mixed seafood

I have no idea why I would want to try them having had the ultimate version in Bangkok but we next picked the “Pad Thai noodles with mixed seafood” which was OK but not great. It did not suffer from the common over-sweetness of many versions of Pad Thai that we often see. Thankfully it was also not very greasy but it did have a distinct lack of, you guessed it, seafood with only a few small pieces of unidentifiable fish. Note to self: Stick to Chinese at Lan Kwai Fong.

California roll (3 pieces)

A final dish was the “California roll” which, like the “Crunchy spicy tuna roll” we had earlier was actually quite good with a nice amount of raw fish and avocado.

So, yes, we did make good use of our 90 minutes and managed to try pretty much everything we wanted on the menu. We did have to pay a service charge based on the full price of the meal but this was fine – The service was very cheerful and helpful with our never having to wait too long for anything.

If we were in the area again we would be interested in coming back to perhaps try a more traditional dim sum meal but would probably stay away from anything outside of China on the menu. It was nice to see a bit of innovation in some of the dishes here though most of the time it is pretty straight-up what you might expect. Lan Kwai Fong is not a place I would go out of my way for as there are better dumpling restaurants in the city (particularly, of course, Soho, yes, even in this day and age) but it is OK. If the £55 is anything to go by for our all you can eat, it is also a bit expensive.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2019-01-13

Cuisine: Chinese

Address: 27 Chalk Farm Rd, Camden Town, London NW1 8AG ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Chalk Farm NRLOGO Kenish Town West/Camden Road

Location: London (England) - Camden Town



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Telephone: +44 (0) 207485 0588