A recent disappointing meal at Hong Kong Diner had us looking around for another restaurant in Chinatown that served good Hong Kong style cuisine. I came across a lot of positive reviews for Old Town 97, the year being significant as that was the end of British rule in Hong Kong. We had a late lunch there one Saturday not too long ago.
They have a great lunch deal – £4.80 for a dish of rice or noodles with a free bowl of their daily soup. We chose the char siu on fried hor fun which came out looking quite plain but turned out to be some well fried hor fun topped with a generic Asian brown sauce and some quite good sliced char siu. A bit of chili oil (excellent stuff) and it was a great dinner. The accompanying soup (pork bone, carrot and tomato) was a bonus.
I wanted to try a dish that I’d only heard about online – ‘LSE fan‘ (or ‘LSE rice’, about £9.50); the story goes that the dish was either invented or made famous by an LSE student. On our queries, our waiter informed us that it was a honey and black pepper pork served with egg fried rice. It turned out to be more of a triple eggy delight – egg fried rice, fried egg and the honey and black pepper pork was topped with an additional eggy sauce. It was definitely over-the-top, excellent and certainly almost enough for two.
Their drinks are very good there – here’s a milk tea and an iced lemon tea.
Sadly, a second, more recent visit wasn’t as good. One of their specialties, Hainan chicken rice (£7.30), had overcooked chicken breast but tasty enough rice and accompanying chilli sauce. A little more care, though, could have been taken over the presentation of the rice.
I wanted to try their crispy noodles. Fried noodles with mixed seafood (£8.00) turned out to be mediocre noodles in a wading pool of gloopy (albeit well-seasoned) sauce.
It all seems to be a bit hit and miss. While it’s likely we’ll be back to try their beef brisket (thanks for the rec, Lizzie) and their hor fun in eggy sauce (two dishes I’ve heard good things about), as in most places in Chinatown, service left a lot to be desired. Depending on which waiter you get, service can be acceptable or miserable. Why do they do that? And poor Blai is extremely upset that by default, they gave him a fork when he sat down!
Old Town 97
19 Wardour Street
London W1D 6PF