Late-night Chinatown institution Hung’s appears to have closed for good on Wardour Street. Two Chinatown restaurateurs close to the restaurant have since told Eater London that despite signs in the newspaper-covered windows advertising a temporary closure, the old-school Cantonese caff that fed locals, students, and late-night revellers alike will not reopen. The phone line currently rings out.
Open — in non-curfew times — from 10 a.m. to the morning until 3:30, even 4 a.m., it was best known across the city for its Cantonese roast meats, burnished amber ducks hanging in the windows to capture passing tastebuds since the year 2000. But, as Eater London contributor Jonathan Nunn notes in a guide to Chinatown’s best restaurants, its greatest hits, soul-bolstering noodle soups with plush, bobbing wontons, were less advertised:
One of the few really old school Cantonese caffs left in Chinatown, Hung’s mainly does a roaring trade in roast meats — roast duck, char siu and siu yuk. While these are all passable, it’s actually the noodle soups that stand out from the competitors, particularly the king prawn dumplings practically bulging out of their wrappers, with sweet lobes of flesh and a clean, clarity of flavour from the broth. The trick is to order without noodles to get more dumplings, or go half and half with some roast meats for variety.
Chinatown has suffered more than most London neighbourhoods from the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. After being hit with early prejudices about COVID-19, the lockdown, and landlord Shaftesbury’s rent policies, put businesses under serious pressure. While Hung’s joined many of its contemporaries in using relaxed outdoor dining regulations through summer, those licenses expired at the end of September, as the weather changed at the 10 p.m. curfew came in. Now facing tier 2 restrictions like the rest of the city, alongside the gradual reshaping of its atmosphere, demographics, and places to eat by Shaftesbury, Chinatown’s longtime institutions are more vulnerable than ever. For Hung’s, the combination was too much.