Ken Lo’s Memories of China
When I was a young tennis player, quite competent, in the school side, I had a game with Ken Lo, well into his seventies. I thought my fitness would tell but Ken, stationed on the base line, had me running hither and thither and won 6-0, 6-0. Ken was a polymath: a Cambridge graduate in English, a diplomat, Vice Consul in Manchester, Davis Cup tennis player for China, an entrepreneur who set up a greetings card and gallery, author of 40 cookbooks and restauranteur. He was also the most charming man. After the game, he sent me a book, which I thought would one of his cookbooks but actually the Chinese Art of Lovemaking!!!
Ken died in August 1995 but the restaurant run by his daughter Jenny lives on at Ebury St. I visited it yesterday. It still has a spacious elegant decor as Ken broke the mould of the cheap and cheerful Chinese. It still serves excellent food. Two of the sea food dishes, soft shelled crab and iron plate sea food were scrumptious, the others – Cantonese Duck, prawn dim sum, ribs – were more standard fare. It is still, as the advert goes, reassuringly expensive. The sadness is that it was empty. You do need other diners, to people-watch and speculate on the amour, to generate atmosphere. Without Ken you have his memories, but not his restaurant skills. Victoria is also a bit of a restaurant’s graveyard – 64 Degrees recently failed there. One of the wines was priced at £5000 and you wonder now who would pay such sums.
Ken did leave a legacy. In my wild adolescence I consulted the book he presented me with more often than his cookbooks!!!!