74 Cricklewood Broadway
020 8452 9988
Gourmand writes: I expected nothing less than the toppermost of the wokkermost on the Broadway. Considering Top Wok's only Chinese competition is Mr Chan, whose sweet and sour dishes are marginally less appealing than eating the scabs off the face of a badly-burned war orphan, my expectations weren't exactly sky-high.
Needless to say, Top Wok slided past the greasy opposition with ease by cooking serviceable, fuss-free Chinese chow. The crispy duck pancakes we shared as a starter may have been cooked from frozen, but they were full of flavour; and the crispy seaweed - while also requiring approximately zero talent on the chef's part - was crispily moreish. The squid in ginger sauce was slightly on the tough side, while a generous portion of pork in black bean sauce tasted like something out of a jar, but at this price we had no complaints. Service is friendly enough, and the non-existent decor is, well, exactly what you'd expect at these prices. In a word: functional.
Gormless writes: If you click on some of the dates over on the right and navigate around this blog you can return to our first ‘Oriental in Cricklewood’ experience. True Gullets fans can recite this foundational text from memory. For many, it is what hooked them in the first place. Here, the erudite toff (“To expect a satisfactory dining experience at a restaurant with either of the words "Mr" or "Chan" in its name would be naïve…”) meets his clueless (“what value”) companion.
Looking back I feel ashamed at my extreme culinary gormlessness. Mr Chan’s delivered the worst meal we have endured, yet I gave it five out of ten. Top Wok would not have to do much to take the barely contested title of Best Chinese on the Broadway. It was quickly apparent that we were dealing with a higher class of Chinese. There were tables, menus and an attentive skeleton staff. It was all reasonably priced and we went for seaweed and crispy duck as a starter with pork in black bean sauce and squid with ginger as main courses.
The crispy duck wasn’t fresh but it tasted fine, although we could have done with a few more pancakes. The main dishes were tasty and I wolfed my share down quickly. Too quickly. Soon after the meal I started feeling sick. I attribute this more to my extreme eagerness to stuff my face than to the food itself.
Top Wok is a pleasant place to spend an hour and has some of the endearing flaws that mark the best places on the Broadway. There is a side table in the restaurant that has a plant pot and a yellow pages on it, like a bed and breakfast reception might.
Overall score: 13/20
A big fat 'meh' for Top Wok, then