Recently I went to Wang Jiao for dinner, a Chinese tavern hidden by the crowded Via Paolo Sarpi on Saturday evening, to try a cuisine that Italians are increasingly talking about.
There are four Wang Jiao in Milan. I had dinner at the restaurant in via Lomazzo 16. The others are located in via Padova 3, Via col di Lana 14 and via Felice Casati 7. Each of them offers the same menu with small variations, what really changes is the environment.
The name of the restaurant, in Chinese, is Mong Kok: it is one of the commercial districts of Hong Kong, a very folkloristic tourist area where you can find markets and try street food.
Wang Jiao in via Lomazzo is a real tavern, bare and quite noisy. Sometimes you will almost have to scream to make yourself heard. The atmosphere is a bit hectic and, perhaps precisely because it was Saturday evening, there were many Italians: none of them, however, asked the Cantonese for rice, indeed, I saw eating chicken feet with a lot of taste. The staff is Chinese, very fast and kind.
Since, as I am told in the dining room, the place is always full, it is essential to book in advance.
The menu is varied and offers some cornerstones of Hong Kong and Sichuan cuisine. Even the price does its part, to say the least ridiculous for the quality of the ingredients and the quantity of the portions.
There are several types of dumplings and cold dishes to start with: spicy beef stomach, tofu with centenary egg, roasted duck, steamed chicken with garlic and spring onions, just to name a few. There are numerous rice dishes, both sautéed and in soup. The same goes for noodles: sautéed, in broth or even udon and rice noodles.
Among the various hot dishes it is possible to order eggplants and potatoes sautéed with meat or tofu stew with mushrooms and spicy meat.
Then we come to the preparation that made Wang Jiao famous: the legendary bowl of fire. It is a small wok on a flame that is placed directly in the center of the table so that diners can serve themselves. Here you will find fifteen and they are better than the other! Each of them has a different intensity of spiciness. I tried the one with squid, salt and pepper: mouth-watering!
Another typical type of preparation that you can find here (I ate it for the first time and I loved it) is the sautéed barrel: it is a method that combines steaming and braising and which is more flavor to the plate. Do not be frightened if you find hot stones at the bottom of the barrel, these are part of the preparation and are used to keep the dish warm.
There are many meat dishes based on pork, chicken or duck (including duck head, salt and pepper), veal, beef, lamb but also fish and seafood.
And if all this were still not enough, there are also the soups served in the terracotta saucepan.
The drinks list offers some wines, a Chinese beer, different qualities of Chinese tea and soft drinks.