Kym’s, chef Andrew Wong’s follow-up to his eponymous, Michelin-starred, outstanding paean to dim sum in Victoria, close. The restaurant opened in the Bloomberg Arcade, in the City, in 2018, and was designed to be both an evening destination comparable to his debut and a top-tier lunch option for the area’s thousands of workers, many of whom are now staying at home thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Kym’s announced the news on Twitter, saying: “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided not to reopen Kym’s. The decision comes after careful consultation with partners & staff. We’re very proud of the Kym’s team & everything we’ve achieved. It has been a fantastic journey & we’re grateful to Bloomberg for their support.”
Where A. Wong evolved into one of the city’s best Chinese restaurants, principally through the immaculate execution of modern dim sum, at Kym’s there was expectation, both culinary and financial, from the get-go. When Wong opened Kym’s, he said that a big part of that was a self-imposed desire to pay respect to those who had gone before him:
Like so much of Chinese gastronomy, it’ll be deceptively simple food with a big emphasis on the ancient craft of Chinese ‘roasting’ meats — and that includes poaching [chicken with soya].
For me though, it’s also about celebrating and paying my respects to the contribution the Chinese community has had over the past 100 years on British gastronomy. I think we’ve all evolved and I want to offer casual Chinese food that is something away from what guests have come to expect.
A couple of delighted early reviews suggested that he had found his mark, with dishes of soya-braised chicken, Iberico pork char sui — now replicated across several, newer establishments — and pork and shrimp bao in a cast iron skillet drawing plaudits. But sustaining such an expansive, venture capital-backed operation (courtesy of Chris Miller’s White Rabbit Fund) was always going to rely on the lunchtime, grab-and-go roasted meats operation that functioned almost like a separate restaurant, and whose targeting, one critic suggested, inadvertently detracted from the best parts of Kym’s.
COVID-19 was always going to make that trade decline; having it decline in an environment as competitive as the Bloomberg Arcade will be challenging to any restaurant. A. Wong remains open and its namesake remains one of the most universally admired, and liked chefs in the city. Having made it look easy to begin with, the second album did indeed live up to its difficult tag.