DINERTEC@Ho Wong

I'D been staking out the Ho Wong from a distance for some time, but had never had the chance to go over the place with a fine-toothcomb until now.

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It comes highly recommended and certainly The Moll's interest was piqued. When I mentioned it might be on the radar, she took it upon herself to push it right to the top of the hit list.

"It's almost Valentine's Day," she crooned, offering me an unwitting, yet vital, reminder.

"But of course, darling," I replied, "Whatever your heart desires."

Having narrowly avoided cranking up the freeze on Blondie's already cold heart by forgetting the impending annual day of 'lurve', I fired up the Buick and headed downtown – my head full of romantic thoughts and hopes of top notch Oriental cuisine.

For all it's great reputation, Ho Wong has the unfortunate distinction of being based in a part of the city that more regularly attracts detectives of the criminal variety as opposed to gastronomic gumshoes.

But at least there is plenty of available street parking once the sun goes down and my pride and joy – the Buick, not The Moll – was safely parked up in no time.

Not wanting to risk getting the night off on the wrong foot, I'd called up to book a table, but there turned out to be no need as there was plenty of room in the old place.

After taking our coats, the hostess handed us over to an army of smiling waitresses, one of whom seated us at a comfortable booth.

There were barely any other customers when we arrived, but the joint was much busier by the time we left an hour later.

I sipped a cold Miller and The Moll enjoyed a lemonade while we pored over the menu. A quick scran scan had me choosing the satay chicken starter and The Moll going for chicken noodle soup to warm the cockles of her heart.

The starters were delivered in lighting quick time, which is often a bad sign. But the soup got the thumbs-up from Blondie and my satay was, hands down, the best I'd ever tasted.

It had a real kick and could not have been any more tender. Top marks all round for the appetisers and we were anticipating a similarly splendid main event.

The satay had fired up my taste buds and I decided I wanted something meaty but with a twist, and the Szechuan crispy beef seemed to tick all the boxes. Apart from the price.

At £15.80, it certainly wasn't cheap, but I didn't dare mention the dosh for fear of upsetting the good lady's fragile mood.

Unfortunately, it was more 'crispy' than 'beef' and I found myself picking through the dish in search of that elusive piece of meat.

The Moll's sizzling chicken and king prawn – though also expensive – was certainly sizzling, served as it was on a hot platter that crackled and popped on the table, and she tucked in with vigour.

"It's very tasty," she cooed ... and I sent appreciative thoughts the way of the chef for keeping the good mood going a little longer.

The egg fried rice and noodles were perfect, and very reasonably priced. There was plenty to go round and I filled up on both to make up for the disappointing beef that remained on my plate.

The staff were excellent – very attentive but without intruding and my water was filled without asking.

And the toilets, although old-fashioned, were spotless.

Mood music helped create a relaxing atmosphere and the decor was what you would expect of an Oriental restaurant that sees itself as one of Glasgow's very best.

As it got busier, it became apparent many of the diners knew each other and were clearly regulars, a good sign if there ever was one.

The dessert menu was somewhat uninspiring and we opted instead to call it a night.

Perhaps I'd just been unlucky with my main course because Ho Wong delivered in every other aspect.

The joint certainly warrants further investigation.

HO WONG, 82 YORK STREET, GLASGOW (TEL: 0141 221 3550)

Food *** Atmosphere **** Service ****

STARTERS

Satay Chicken £7.90, Chicken Noodle Soup £4.90

MAINS

Szechuan Crispy Beef £15.80, Sizzling Chicken and King Prawn £18.50, Egg Fried Rice £2.80, Soft Noodles £3.

DRINKS

Miller £3.50, Lemonade £2.10.

TOTAL: £58.50

Food and drink

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