Halal Chinese food that’s actually decent and authentic is not the easiest to come by. That’s why I tend to stay away from it to avoid disappointment. When I first saw Mrs Chew’s open in Westfield White City, I was rather hesitant to try it out. But with it being literally right at our doorsteps, it’s inevitable that we eventually went to give it a try. In the beginning, I was surprised to find one or two passable dishes that actually prompted us to return out of convenience for halal food options in Westfield. However, in more recent times, it’s been more of a miss. Here is a full run-down of our thoughts & review of Mrs Chew’s in London Westfield.
Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen: Food Court-style Halal Chinese Food in Westfield
Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen is founded by Ellen Chew, a Singaporean restauranteur who is also behind some successful names in London, namely Arome Bakery and Rasa Sayang. The concept behind this particular venture is to offer “unpretentious and authentic halal Chinese food” in the UK, with a focus on fresh ingredients and time-honoured recipes served in an affordable way.
Following its success in Birmingham, Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen expanded to London as one of the food court vendors in both Westfield White City and Westfield Stratford. This food review is based on our experiences at the Westfield White City branch. All meats served are halal across all branches. No pork or alcohol is served on the menu.
The Food at Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen Westfield (what we ordered)
Date of original visit: July 2022
- Cantonese Roast Duck (with rice or noodles) (£10.95)
- Black Bean Beef Stir-Fry (£11.95)
- Siu Mai (£4.95)
- Jalapeno Chicken Wings (£6.95)
- Chilli Wonton (£5.50)
- Fried Mantou (£4.95)
Cantonese Roast Duck (with rice or noodles) (£10.95)
Chinese roast meats are a quintessential Cantonese food staple and one of Mrs Chew’s specialities. You can choose between roast duck, roast chicken, or a combination of both, and pick either noodles or rice with it. Needless to say, I went with the roast duck, which comes in a generous portion and comes garnished with cucumber slices, jalapenos, spring onions, bok choi, as well as a side of chilli oil and broth.
This is the dish that I actually enjoyed during my first few visits to Mrs Chew’s Westfield. The dry-aged Canton roast duck was perfectly fatty and succulent, served bone-in and hits the exact spot. There were even times it almost transports me back home as if I was sitting at Wai Kee in Hong Kong – I must be particularly missing home that day. I still preferred Rice Guy’s Cantonese Roast Duck, but for convenience, it was reasonably nice. Personally, I preferred it with noodles and, for the price, seemed a fairly good deal in London. However, it’s utterly saddening to say that, on more recent visits, this dish was no longer up to par and the quality had significantly gone down.
Black Bean Beef Stir-Fry (£11.95)
Unfortunately, the same original praises couldn’t be made for the Black Bean Beef Stir-Fry. The dish was exactly why I’ve always avoided halal Chinese restaurants in the UK and I couldn’t roll my eyes fast enough after the first bite. For me, the sauce really missed the mark as it was far too sweet and very much lacked the robustness of how a black bean sauce stir-fry should be. The “wok-hei” was almost non-existent either, which is the make or break for Chinese stir-fries. At least the beef was tender to taste, but the dish, as a whole, completely was a very disappointing one.
Siu Mai (£4.95)
Other than the main dishes, we tried out some dim sums from Mrs Chew’s as well. First up was the Siu Mai, which wasn’t too bad but wasn’t stellar either. It uses a chicken and prawn filling, which could definitely use further seasonings and totally required a touch of chilli oil to add flavours. Compared to the ones from Hong Kong Restaurant Islington (a halal Cantonese dim sum restaurant), these ones were certainly lacklustre in taste. On a positive note, what was good about this Siu Mai was the texture, which got a subtle bouncy spring to it. Overall, it’s alright and was probably better than some “halal dim sums” out there, but it’s not one that leaves an impression.
Jalapeno Chicken Wings (£6.95)
Talk about a complete failure to impress, these chicken wings were absolutely not the one to get. The sizes of the wings were rather questionably small as if you were served a plate of bones. Moreover, they were extremely dry to taste as well and were just not so enjoyable to savour. It came with a side of jalapeno sauce, which clearly isn’t a Chinese ingredient. Whilst I welcome all sorts of fusion flavours and ideas, this one didn’t work at all and was a really confusing flavour combo.
Chilli Wonton (£5.50)
Chilli wonton is one of my favourite dim sum dishes to order but, unfortunately, these were a rather forgettable feat at Mrs Chew’s. The wonton fillings, featuring a chicken and prawn mix, were rather bland in flavour. This dish is meant to be tossed in chilli oil & Chinese black vinegar to create some punchy yet tangy & piquant flavours. However, this was just wontons sitting in a pool of tasteless chilli oil which ended up far too oily and lacked the tantalising flavours it promised. Even the chilli oil itself didn’t have the robust fragrance to enhance any of the flavours.
Fried Mantou (£4.95)
Last but not least, we had the fried mantou, which is listed in the dessert section of the menu. One can say it’s still dim sum, which I personally would count it as, or I suppose it’s not wrong either to consider it as a dessert because of the sweet condensed milk dip. Anyhow, this is one of my childhood favourites and I think they did an okay job here. The mantou buns were generally fluffy, with a light golden crisp on the outside. It could be crispier and give a real good crunch upon biting into it, but it’s still decent. You can’t go wrong with a condensed milk dip but we would’ve really liked a bigger serving portion as the serving portion was just about enough for half a plate perhaps. Overall, it’s decent for a quick craving but not outstanding enough to become a go-to order.
Food Review Summary
Whilst not a true representation of Chinese/Cantonese food, I appreciated the effort of Mrs Chew’s opening up the cuisine to the halal dining market. For someone who was born and raised in Hong Kong, it didn’t nail the spot for me. Initially, the roast duck was the highlight but a couple of months after their opening, it’s no longer the case and I couldn’t really vouch for the restaurant in this instance. But similarly to how I felt about Hong Kong Restaurant Islington, it’s still good to see the attempt of starting halal Chinese food in the UK. It’s still a long way to go but better starting with something than absolutely nothing.
All meats served are halal.
Nearest station: Shepherd’s Bush