Where does a restaurant reviewer go for an evening out with friends? For RiverTribe Food Writer, Alison Jee, it has to be a local and reliable establishment serving delicious dishes at a reasonable price.
Hei Hing is a tiny café and noodle bar and fits the bill. Tucked away in South Street, Old Isleworth it is a mere stone’s throw from the river and has become her destination of choice.
Hei Hing been open for five years and serves freshly cooked ‘pan Asian’ food to the local community – mainly business folk at lunchtimes for a set menu, and local residents in the evenings.
Let’s be frank, this is not a smart restaurant. But it is by no means a scruffy or downmarket one either. It’s spotlessly clean, very friendly, with pleasant décor that is stylishly simple; a bit like the restaurant itself. Run by super-efficient Moni Lau and her partner Louis. Moni, originally from Hong Kong, sardonically describes herself as ‘slave’ but also ‘slave driver’. She says they serve the type of food that they themselves really like to eat which is a great ethos.
Everything is freshly cooked and beautifully seasoned. Chef Louis is British, and trained at Middlesex Polytechnic (as was) in Hendon, before cutting his culinary teeth in Chinatown.
Hei Hing serves only daily specials at lunchtimes (Tuesday to Friday –closed Sundays and Mondays) which is a limited, and varied menu that’s great value at £6.50 to eat in, and even cheaper for take away. Moni tweets the day’s menu each morning to her loyal local followers. There is a choice of three or four dishes, served with rice or noodles and it is freshly made that day. There is always a vegetarian option too.
The full menu is available in the evenings (and Saturday lunchtimes). Starters and soups are very reasonably priced with the full gamut offered, to suit most tastes. We particularly like the Tempura Prawns, Spring Rolls and (surprisingly for me, as I’m generally not a fan) their delicious Prawn Toast. A word of warning though: don’t over order on the starters, as the main courses are very generous.
The mains menu is split into Noodle Soups, Vegetable Side dishes, Rice dishes and Noodle dishes. I’ve been quite a few times and always have to ask for a ‘doggy bag’ (not that the dog will get any) as the portions are so generous. It tastes great heated up the next day!
My favourite main course is the Malaysian Slow Cooked Beef Curry, but I also really like the Singapore Noodles. The only problem with this place is that everything is good, and when one comes back it’s tempting to order the same again. And then you see so many other fabulous bowls of food being served that you wish you had been braver and tried something else for a change. Take my advice and go with folk who are happy to let you taste their food!
With a very fairly priced wine, beer and soft drinks menu too, this hidden treasure on South Street in Old Isleworth is definitely worth checking out.
Hei Hing closes soon for its annual holidays but reopens 9 October with a new menu alongside their classics.