When Hansa Dabhi hung up her apron and forever closed the doors of her eatery on the very fringes of the city centre, there were big shoes to fill.
All eyes were on the next restaurant to take over Hansa’s vegetarian Indian venue that had occupied the same space on 72-74 North Street for more than three decades.
Enter: Wen’s Restaurant.
The restaurant is neatly set across two floors with a fair few tables to choose from. We’re dining on a mid-week evening and there are only a handful of tables occupied.
A member of staff greets us warmly and we’re presented with table water and the menus as we stroll inside.
There’s nothing blow-you-away about the decor here but it isn’t trying to be clever or unique in its approach.
The eatery is new (only opened at the end of June) and its menu is expansive and well-thought out.
There is soup, dumplings, nibbles (essentially warm starters ranging from prawn and chicken toast to salt and pepper squid) and there’s also a cold starters list.
For mains, there are traditional options like Kung Po chicken alongside homemade slow stewed beef belly, braised aubergine with soy sauce and pan-fried sea bass.
With noodles, soup noodles and plenty of fried rice and extra options, you will be spoiled for choice at Wen’s.
But that may be part of the issue that can be difficult to diagnose. The menu is so expansive, it makes it difficult to decide.
For an even spread of dishes, we order the minced pork dumplings and chicken satay skewers to start and a beef stir fry and Kung Po chicken for mains.
First off: all of them are delicious. It is the taste of authentic homemade cooking served with restaurant quality.
The stir fry is full of flavour and the chicken, with a hint of spice, is an absolute delight.
Dumplings are also mouth-watering. A note here on service - it isn’t five-star.
The starters came together but for the mains, the chicken arrived a good 10 to 12 minutes before my partner’s main.
It’s a limited selection.
I go for China’s flagship Tsingtao beer while my partner has a glass of white wine which was surprisingly pleasant considering the lack of choice.
We note that their wine glasses are sub-standard, the type you’ll find at a dingy pub.
Overall, even despite a couple of issues, Wen’s is a welcome addition to the Chinese food scene in the city centre.
Its food is tremendously delicious and that will carry it through, even on a bad service day.