Wanfo Pavilion, Norwich, restaurant review: Authentic dim sum in the city centre
They say when you’re eating out abroad, you should go where the locals eat to get an authentic experience. So when Geraldine Scott wanted real dim sum in Norwich a restaurant popular with Chinese friends was going to be the place to go.
I had only ever seen the menu for Wanfo Pavilion, on Prince of Wales Road, on Deliveroo but I was pleased to find out it was a proper sit down restaurant.
My friend Lauren and I were greeted quickly when we arrived on a Monday evening, and when we sat down noticed the buzz of chatter in Chinese around us, encouraging us we were getting the real deal.
The menu was extensive. It was the weight of a holiday brochure and had beautiful photographs of every dish to match. Whilst that showed off the great selection, it did make choosing what to have a bit overwhelming.
We had meant to go for just a selection of dim sum - we both like our food but like to have as much variety of possible so this seemingly Asian take on tapas worked perfectly for us.
But when we said “one of each of these please” to the waitress she audibly gasped, so clearly our etiquette was not up to scratch!
After taking advice that this was definitely too much for just two people (albeit two people who have healthy appetites) we opted for a mixed dim sum platter, which had two each of prawn dumplings, pork and fish roe sew mai, steamed chicken dumplings, and our waiter recommended we swap out the custard buns for pork buns (£10.99), plus some grilled pork dumplings (£5.99).
Served in a bamboo steamer the dim sum was light and delicious, a little difficult to get out of the steamer but that may have been out chopstick skills more than anything else.
We hadn’t decided what to have as a main when we ordered the dim sum, and it was a fair wait until they came back to take our order.
This was nice for us as it meant we were not rushed and there was no feeling they wanted to push us out the door, but if you were in a rush you would have needed to be more assertive in calling for attention than we were.
When we did order, we went for a takeaway classic of chicken chow mien (£6.99), sautéed king prawns (£12.99), and Cantonese-style satay skewers (£6.99).
The king prawns in particular were succulent and juicy, but with a chili kick, and were the highlight of the meal.
The chow mien too was, as expected, much better than a Saturday night takeaway with delicious chicken chunks, while the satay had just enough spice.
Accompanied with a jasmine green tea for Lauren, and an iced tea for me, we finished with full bellies and feeling of authenticity throughout.
Wanfo Pavilion was busy for a Monday night, with steady steam of what looked like students, families, and couples. The atmosphere was relaxed and casual.
Really friendly and as awkward Brits a bit out of our depth, we were pleased to take recommendations.
As you’d expect, clean, tidy.
As with any city centre eatery, multi-storey car parks are nearby. Nearest here are Rose Lane car park or Castle Mall.
Central on Prince of Wales Road.
For the two of us with starters, mains and drinks we paid £48. When we guessed before the bill came we had a ballpark of £70 in our heads so that was a nice surprise.
We had gone for the dim sum but the stand out surprise were the prawns, they stole the show and were cooked to perfection.
I would defintely go back, I’d say as more of a treat than a quick eat but you’re getting a true taste of China.
Three dishes you must try
1. The king prawns were our favourite part of the meal and we could have eaten double the amount, definitely a must try.
2. The dim sum platter gave us exactly what we wanted, a bit of everything for a reasonable price.
3. I wasn’t brave enough on this visit but traditional cooking such as frogs legs or chicken feet would tempt me another day, if only for the experience.
Value for money
It would be really easy to spend a lot of money eating here, the most expensive dish was the sautéed lobster. But it’s also possible to eat at Wanfo on a budget if you’re careful, with maocai - a traditional Szechuan dish - costing £10.99.
If you like that, try this
• If small plates where you can try a bit of everything is what you’re after, try Bar Tapas in Norwich city centre for a Spanish dinner.
• Pearl River, in King’s Lynn, gets consistently good reviews for its Asian offering.
• For something more local, Wells Crab House will serve up Norfolk cuisine to a high standard.
This is an independent review.