Interview: Kwoklyn Wan opens new Hong Kong street food gem, Wantons

kwoklyn wan

We love a foodie opening here at Cool As Leicester and one we’ve been looking forward to for a while is Wantons – the new Hong Kong street food eatery from Kwoklyn Wan, which finally opened this week! We nipped over last week to have a sneak peek and sample some of the dishes (those Chicken Potstickers and the Breakfast Bao get a big Cool As thumbs up), the beers and the setting.

Whilst only small inside, that’s what makes it unique and special. This isn’t the place where you book a table in advance, this is the place where you grab some mates, grab a beer and find a spot to sit, stand or perch. The outside area is actually bigger than the inside and there’ll be heaters and blankets to keep you warm! It’s unique, quirky, and with Fosse Road on one side and Lidl on the other, it’s a world away once you step inside.

Keen to find out more? We caught up with Kwoklyn to find out more about the concept, the location and what you can expect.

Tell us about your background as a chef?
My culinary journey started long before i was born, Grandad moved to England back in the early 60’s and opened Leicester’s very first Chinese restaurant back in 1962, Poppa Wan (my Dad) joined him here in England and in 1978 opened Leicester’s first Cantonese restaurant. Strange to think that before this you couldn’t buy a sweet and sour chicken or a portion of barbecue spare ribs. By age of 4 I would go to work with my Dad dressed in black trousers, white shirt and a dickie bow so I was always destined to follow in his footsteps. By the time I was 11 I was washing up and helping in the kitchen and my training continued right up to now. 

kwoklyn wan gok wan

We hear the building has some special memories attached to it for you?
Yes, Mum and dad bought Fosse Road in 1983 when I was 10 years old and began to transform what was an old printing house into a restaurant. They opened the Panda (restaurant’s name) in September 1984 and shortly after they were published in the good food guide.

The Panda back in the 1980s. The same building that Wantons has opened in.

What is the stand out dish not the menu?
For me our stand out dish is Wanton Noodles, I have so many fond memories of this dish as a child and I love to hear my Dad’s stories of him working in a noodle bar back in Hong Kong. 

Wanton noodle soup

How long has Wantons been in the pipeline?
I’ve sat on the Wantons idea for about 18 months, its hard work setting up a new business and expensive, but after the summer of this year I thought “what the hell” lets just do it!

What are you most looking forward to about opening?
Sharing the quintessential Hong Kong experience. I’ve been luck enough to visit several times and the place just oozes food & culture, it’s a sensory overload. I’m hoping I’ve captured this at Wantons Bar. 

What’s been your favourite memory from cooking as a youngster and training yourself?
Working at Mum and Dad’s restaurant as a family, I miss those days terribly. Mum, Oilen and Gok working front of house and Dad and I in the kitchen clanging the woks. 

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Kwoklyn’s family photos

What is the future for Wantons – is this the first of many?
I hope so, Wantons is all about bringing that little part of Hong Kong and my family history to our customers. Its a visual, taste and audible experience and If the amazing Lestonians get it i’m sure I’ll open more across the UK. 

What are your opening hours and how can people find out more?
We are very active on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) just search @WantonsBar and we have a website www.wantonsbar.com. Our opening hours during November are Wednesday through to Saturday 4.30 – 10.00pm but in December we launch our Breakfast and Lunchtime menus. Best thing to do is give us a follow and keep an eye out. 

breakfast bar
The Breakfast Bao

Wantons is open now at 215 Fosse Road North.