Kay Taylor visited Top Wok in Leyland to celebrate Chinese New Year in style
It’s the Chinese year of the rabbit this time round, which ironically, is my Chinese zodiac animal, so it only seemed fitting for me to celebrate the new year last Thursday.
The characteristics of those with the rabbit include ‘enjoying the good things in life’, so with this in mind, I headed for the Top Wok in Leyland.
I’ve been there countless times in the past, and have always been really impressed with the food - especially the mixed starters and soups. It’s normally pretty quiet during the week, but it was packed for the new year celebrations.
The atmosphere was buzzing and the room decorated with lanterns and balloons, with staff happily seeing to everyone’s needs.
On offer was a set menu, costing £28 per person, which is steep for this restaurant. There’s normally a similar option available at less popular times at a much cheaper cost, but seeing as they threw in some cultural entertainment, the price didn’t bother me too much.
Two men demonstrated Tai Chi moves in the restaurant, using swords (not real), and fans. I was disappointed that the Chinese dragon didn’t make an appearance whilst I was there though.
The menu kicked off with the famous sharing starter, including spring rolls, chicken skewers in a satay sauce, beef and ginger dumplings, siu mai (which was a bit like sausage), and crispy seaweed.
Next came the aromatic crispy duck with pancakes, which was the best course by far. The waitress brought the duck leg to our table and shredded it in front of us, which was a nice touch, and left us to compile our own pancake combinations using the sliced cucumber, spring onion and hoi sin sauce.
For our mains, we had a choice of chicken with ginger and spring onions - which my friend Joanna ordered - crispy chilli beef, Cantonese style sweet and sour chicken, king prawns in black bean sauce and my choice, roast prok in szechuan sauce, all served with Singapore rice.
To be honest, my meal didn’t live up to the standards set by the Top Wok chefs in the past, as the pork was quite fatty, but Joanna cleaned her plate.
The rice was delicious too, with prawns and peas in it, and I even learnt how to use chop sticks!
For dessert, the menu said we were getting lychee, which I thought was a fruit, but we were actually given a shortbread-type dessert and fortune cookies.
After some careful online research, I actually think we were given suncakes, which are normally round and filled with condensed malt sugar. Ours looked more like mini Cornish pasties, but they tasted of sweet pastry and milk, and had sugar inside.
Also, suncakes are apparently given or bought as souvenirs for visitors of China, and we were given a box to take home afterwards, along with a rabbit-shaped money box and a poster.
To finish off the banquet, I had a steaming pot of jasmine tea.
All in all, it was a great experience, and it was nice to see the place full of excitable families and couples, getting into the spirit of unfamiliar customs.
The food wasn’t as good as it usually is, which knocked a few marks off the rating, especially as it was so expensive.
But I had a brilliant night and the staff were right on form with top quality service, so it’s still my favourite Chinese restaurant.
Name: Top Wok Chinese Restaurant
ADDRESS: Wigan Road, Leyland, PR25 5SB
TELEPHONE: 01772 624888
FOOD: Peking and Cantonese Cuisine