Ho Wong


TO A MONDAY NIGHT meal in a restaurant that from the outside world anyway looks so blank, bland and dead that I suspect it may not even be open.

But I push inside through smoked glass doors and on into a foyer that’s plush and lush where I am dealt with by, quite frankly, crikey, bossy, pretty brusque people.

And on again through the to the eating bit I can now see, it’s actually completely mobbed. Wow.

This is the Ho Wong then. Historic haunt of Glasgow celebrities, footballers, and I notice tonight, even judges.

Closed, apparently forever, a few years ago, amid tears, rending of garments and giving away of knick-knacks from the walls.

Now taa-raa reopened in a completely different location.

So, two things have coloured those first impressions.

1) When I ask to go in and sit at a table while waiting for my wife to arrive I get a pretty brusque no.

2) When I rise in the admittedly lovely, foyer to try to get menu from the pile over there I get a snappy back-to-your-seat instruction.

But.. I can see that this strange welcome does not apply to regulars.

They sweep in to all but high fives, first name greetings, usually followed by lots of Hi Tonys (who I take to be the boss) and and while-I’m-here-can-I-book-a-table-for-two-weeks-on-Saturday chat.

One other thing. When I do look at this menu my first reaction is surprise.

Not just at how retro it looks. But at the prices.

“Eye-watering I hear,” one of my pals says in a live text exchange. Followed with no apparent irony by “I’m saving up to go”.

Lol. Oh. And may as well get this out the way too now. The service will not get much better tonight. Although the flock of brisk waiters who suddenly usher us to the table and later bring food are pleasant, our order is taken by someone looking the other way. Sigh.

And yet when we’ve finished our starters, a £24.80 mixed hors d’ouvres and a £12.80 stuffed green chillies, and the main courses are being placed on those candle-fuelled warmers we’ll agree this astonishing thing: we would come back.

Maybe even bring those relatives who we need to thank for doing us a favour. Not just because you, er, want family to see just how much (ker-ching) you value their help. But because there’s actual genuine restaurant presence here.

Amid a million shades of green, sophisticated ornaments, expensive upholstering, lawns of carpet, people murmuring, candles burning, and even that table of three tattooed guys who eat their whole meal with their phones held in their faces.

And the food. Yes. This isn’t Hakkasan-style cutting edge pretension: it is literally grub from the 70s. Done with care and a bit of finesse. That makes the prawn toast oil-free and kinda delicious; those Peking ribs thick-meaty and yet succulent; the wonton shout freshly made; the spring rolls disappear munchitty-munch; those butterfly prawns, surely not from the North Sea, are scarfed; while even the ho-hum chicken satay is clean and moist.

As for the prawn stuffed chilli? Minced prawn from dim-sum spooned in a chilli and drenched in a spicy, salty, soy sauce. Seen that movie? Well, I could easily have eaten another plateful. Yes, the beef in chilli and salt that I have for a main course (£26.90 plus £4.50 for rice) has that weird, gelatinous texture that I associate with the, erm, old skool. But I finish it all.

The sizzling seafood combo (£27.90); scallop, prawn, squid, brought crackling, but not searing, in a generic oyster sauce may be white blandorama to some but it’s enjoyed. And these smokey, soft noodles (£4.50) are frankly, completely delicious. True the fried rice is dreadful, dry, tasteless, unseasoned and expensive. But that was the only fail.

Otherwise? This is the way we were, done properly, and reassuringly to some: expensively.

Ho Wong

56 Waterloo Street


0141 465 5911

Menu: If you’ve ever been to a Chinese restaurant you’ll not be too surprised by this menu, no surprises, just comforting, familiar, old school dishes. 4/5

Service: If they know you, you get the gold star treatment, If they don’t...I found it was surprisingly brusque and at times disinterested. Some people like that. 3/5

Atmosphere: Very successfully fitted out interior, sophisticated, calm, comforting and expensive feeling. Liked it a lot. 5/5

Price: They put a minimum spend warning of £25 per person on the menu. Keeps the riff raff out too (though not me) 4/5

Food: Those old favourites done with care and at times a little touch of flair, the starters were straight out a 1970s playbook but were still good. 8/10