More than two years after its closure, an iconic Glasgow restaurant is counting the days until its return.
In June 2019, Glasgowians were heartbroken when the city center institution Ho Wong was forced to close, paving the way for a multi-million pound office development on York Street, where the Chinese well – loved ones have been standing since the first opening in 1986.
Just a minute’s walk down the road, at the corner of Waterloo and West Campbell Street, work is already well underway to bring Ho Wong back, with the hope that we will be serving the restaurant’s famous satay, spicy squid and chicken. crispy on that side of Christmas.
We met the Chung family outside Ho Wong’s new home to talk about what makes the place so special, to find out all about this now legendary closing night, Tony turning down Gordon Ramsay, phone calls from people in Australia asking to book for the opening night and how it feels to come back.
Tony was joined by his brother Michael, his business partner Jim Ridley, a family friend for over 30 years who even got married in the restaurant, and the waitress Jean to hear about their exciting projects and their best. memories of old Ho Wong.
Why did you decide to bring Ho Wong back?
Jim: “Tony wanted to retire and call it a day, but he’s had enough of golfing and wants to start over. The various staff have coaxed him back. Places for almost two. years now.
Tony: “The reason we want the Ho Wong to come back is because the waitresses, the chefs, they all want to get involved too. Same chef, same waitresses, they all want to get back together.
Michael: “It’s also for the customers. We still get phone calls and texts from customers saying, “Well, when does the new Ho Wong open? “.
Jim: “Tony got phone calls from Canada, America and Australia saying ‘I believe you’re opening in October. We’re going to fly over the opening.'”
Michael: “I got a text yesterday saying ‘I know Tony and I see you reopening, can you book us a table for Christmas?’.
Jim: “There have been people who wanted to reserve tables for 10, tables for 30, tables for 40, but we can’t take any reservations at this time until we know when it’s going to open.”
Will all classic dishes be back?
Tony and Michael: “The most popular dishes were fCantonese-style beef carnation, nothing salt and pepper, spicy squid, salt and pepper ribs, cchicken satay and crispy chicken with spicy honey sauce.
“All the old favorites will be there.
“At Ho Wong, we use good quality ingredients, the best sauces, the most expensive. At Ho Wong, we always use the right ingredients.
“Everything is bought and cooked fresh.”
Glasgow Live was inundated with comments from devastated people that Ho Wong was shutting down. Did you expect such a surge of love?
Michael: “Many customers came from the first day until the last day before closing.”
Tony: “You can see young people dining in the Ho Wong. Dinner there when they get married. Then you see them with their children, then their children, generations descending to Ho Wong.
“A lot of young people come into the restaurant and shout ‘Uncle Tony!’ and give me a hug It’s like family, because we know them so well.
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“You never see another restaurant with so many repeat customers. When someone comes to Ho Wong, you will always see them again.
“Sometimes when customers knew it was your birthday they would send me a bottle of whiskey or say ‘this is Tony, here is £ 200, have yourself a drink! You would feel amazing!”
What makes Ho Wong so special?
Tony: “Food is the most important. Service and staff are two.”
The Ho Wong has had its fair share of celebrities coming to dinner over the years, including Billy Connolly – remember them all?
Tony: “We had players from Robbie Coltrane, Boyzone, Celtic and Rangers, Bob Geldof. To be honest, I can’t remember all of them. We’ve had so many!
“If the staff had taken a photo with every celebrity in Ho Wong, we wouldn’t have space on the walls to hang them all!
Jim: “The great thing about Ho Wong is that celebrities can eat with their families without anyone harassing them.”
Michael: “I think my favorite had to be Rachel Hunter, Michelle Mone brought her in, a real model!”
And the Ho Wong also made a few appearances on television?
Tony: “Rick Stein came over several times and they were secretly filming for a show and after that they wrote a letter to Ho Wong to say that you will be on a show on BBC2.
“They ordered monkfish and after this program everyone wanted monkfish!
“One time Gordon Ramsay’s secretary called me and said, ‘Tony, congratulations! Gordon Ramsay wants you on the Channel 4 show, but I said’ no thanks! ‘.
Did you think you were back when you closed in June 2019 and how did you feel on the last day?
Tony: “No, I said at the time it’s over. I’m not a young boy anymore, I’m going to be 70!
“I was a little sorry that we had to close. There were a lot of customers in tears on the day of the closing.”
Jim: “If the building was still there, the Ho Wong would still be there. “
“The very last night Tony couldn’t face it. He didn’t come. Michael, his brother, called him and said ‘you have to come in’.”
Michael: “When he walked in, everyone stood up and started clapping. He was in tears. It was a beautiful night.
“That night we were saying to customers going out ‘Do you want this?’ and they were just removing photo frames from the wall, menus, chopsticks.
Jim: “The Ho Wong just walked through the door! “Any champagne or wine that was left, Tony was just handing it out.”
We are delighted to welcome the Ho Wong again and as soon as we have that opening date we will let you know on Glasgow Live.