Service and Decor at Bayee Village
There is an atmosphere at Bayee Village; there’s the usual Chinese inspired motifs, staff dressed in an oriental fashion, running water, a fish tank – everything you would expect as well as signed football shirts and a little walk up the great game’s memory lane en route to the toilets. But, this hides the fact the interior is tired; Bayee Village needs a refurbishment – the black areas outside the air conditioning vents, for example, are a give away it’s past due. However, it should be noted that decor in itself doesn’t preclude having a good night out; after all, I did make a similar criticism of Le Gavroche.
The service is attentive, happy and precise; as you would expect an Oriental establishment to be. Wine list is decent, but we opted for Chinese beer alone on the evening we visited. Whether they were omitted, I forgot we had them, or Bayee Village doesn’t serve them, I was disappointed that there wasn’t a small basket of prawn crackers on arrival. I’ve mentioned it in the context of aperitif before and at the price point Bayee Village commands, it certainly isn’t beyond their means. Such small nibbles, to me, set the scene – like an artisanal bread roll in a braisserie and so forth.
Food at Bayee Village
This is the primary reason you’ll forgive the tired decor. In terms of upmarket Chinese, I only have as a reference point Naturally Chinese in Surbiton – which is only a 10 minute train away from Wimbledon station (which in turn, to be fair, is 15 minutes away from Bayee Village) and I suppose, represents a degree of competition. We started with a combination of a dim sum platter and a rotisserie platter. The former contained three steamed parcels of the usual forms of deliciousness, with proper al dente exterior – a lot of care and skill has gone into making them in the establishment and cooking them correctly. They prepare their own rotisserie meat daily, according to the menu, and it was delicious. Pork belly with a crispy skin, duck and lean pork, all in a Chinese style.
We were in a decadent mood and opted to insert at this stage a lobster dish – a salt and chilli fried lobster. There are several different preparations of my favourite crustacean on the menu at Bayee Village, some safer than this one, however, when I am in a gluttonous Chinese takeaway mood, I like salt and chilli chicken/prawns et cetra, so there was an affinity to the method of preparation. It was excellently prepared, thankfully the lobster was largely dressed (i.e. ready to eat without too much labour on the part of the diner) and thoroughly delicious. A subtle warmth and hit of salt works well with sweet lobster, and the frying gives the texture an extra dimension too.
Main course for me was Crispy Shredded Beef; this was prepared with a nice clear sauce and not a hint of luminous orange in sight; I may even go as far to say as Bayee Village’s version of this is the best I have yet experienced. Friend had a lamb with Chinese vegetables dish which was well executed and we shared a small rice and a Singapore fried noodles which, in turn, was also one of my takeaway favourites executed far more authentically and excellently.
They also have the ice cream filled plastic cows on the menu – I had to have one because my ex-wife took the last one I had and kept for years.
The prices (a few beers, decadent 4 courses and service) came for us to around £150 – without lobster and nothing substituting it, it would be £120, add a half crispy duck and you’d be back at £150 again. For two people, when you’re at this level of expense, the competition isn’t just a nearby upmarket Chinese, it’s also the Michelin-starred Hakkassan’s Sunday deal, dim sum and cocktails at Cocohan (both if you’re more central at the time), or other styles such as at The French Table (Surbiton). Whilst I haven’t been to The Good Earth in Esher yet (long story involving very negative comments about it from a friend in the industry), if I want really excellent Chinese food, cuisine that’s better than the already excellent Naturally Chinese, then Bayee Village gets my vote. Keeping aside my penchant to always try somewhere new anyway, if I have £75 a head to spend on a nice evening out, that’s a different question altogether – one that I don’t quite know the answer to .
|Restaurant Name||Bayee Village|
|Price Range||£75 a head (decadent menu, choices couple of pints each)|
|Phone||020 8947 3533
|Address||24 High Street, Wimbledon Village, SW19 5DX|