When your favourite Chinese restaurant which you have patronised for many years suddenly changes hands, there is a great deal of cause for concern.
Indeed my first thought was ‘Where will I get my favourite crispy beef now?’
Anyhow being the sort of person who professes to always be up for new experiences, I persuaded my friend Cathie to give the new regime a go at Little Hong Kong (previously Wans) on Briers Brow, Wheelton.
Imagine my delight when, by sheer coincidence, my editor asked if anyone in the office was free to attend the official opening of the newly refurbished restaurant on the very evening that we had planned to try a meal there.
The new experience started from the moment that we walked through the door.
The updated decor, modern candelabra and new carpets heralded the sign of things to come.
Upstairs the changes to the atmosphere of the restaurant were amazing and exuded sophistication and fine dining.
Gone are the dragon-style lanterns, chintz curtains and pink tablecloths.
In their place are 21st century lighting, black table cloths and bamboo inspired blinds at the windows.
Even the chair backs have been chosen to reflect the bamboo effect, as has the bar.
The minimal use of Chinese symbols on the walls complements the effect and keeps the look clean and uncluttered.
Sampling the dim sum with a glass of bubbly was a delight to the tastebuds.
We felt that it was our duty to try each delicious item on offer, and consequently worked our way through spring rolls, wantons, prawn toast, fried aubergine, king prawn skewers and dumplings.
Each of these is available as a starter along with wide choice of soups.
This dazzling display left us keen to try a main course and after perusing the menu for several minutes Cathie chose King Prawn Szechuan Chilli (£10.50) which came with a warning - very hot - accompanied by Crispy Noodles (£4.95).
I opted for Duck in Plum Sauce (£10.95) with a serving of Fried Rice (£2.95).
From my point of view (and I consider myself to be a bit of an expert!) the duck was delicious - every mouthful just dissolved on the tongue and I devoured most of my meal in contented silence.
Cathies’s prawns seemed to have the same effect on her and when she reached the conclusion that she couldn’t actually eat another morsel, she asked for a doggy bag and took the rest home.
As Cathie was driving she refrained from any alcohol and had a bottle of Sparkling Water (£1.40) to accompany her meal, whereas I could indulge in a glass of my favourite red grape.
There is now an extensive choice of good quality wines on the list, sold both by the glass and by the bottle, and I can thoroughly recommend a large glass of the house (Pasquiers) Shiraz (£4.95).
We both felt thoroughly replete after this and declined to have coffee or anything to follow.
The service throughout was excellent, the food was piping hot and served promptly and it was good to see the familiar faces of the waiter and waitress who have served us so often in the past.
It’s quite a challenge to take on an established restaurant and put your own stamp on it in a very short time, but I think that the new owners have struck exactly the right note at Little Hong Kong.
It’s fine dining Oriental style and just what today’s choosier customer is looking for.
Cathie and I will certainly be going back again because, if this first taste was anything to go by, we will need many visits to work our way through the very tempting menu!
n To see how the VIP opening went for the business, turn to page 67 for the news