After hours: Coach and Horses Wok n Grill in Cambridge, England
August 9, 2010
Buffet-style Chinese restaurants, no matter the location, are typically more about quantity than quality. Since I arrived in England about a year ago, Chinese takeaway spots with subpar offerings dominate the villages surrounding the RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath bases.
Maybe the quantity part of my rationale can be attributed to my usual American-size portions, but Chinese cuisine without quality lacks any differences in appearance and taste. They all seem to have the same vegetables, which are cut to the same size, in a similarly colored sauce that tastes the same no matter what other food it’s mixed with. That sort of food is really only tasty after a long night at the pub, and to those with short memories.
Enter the Coach and Horses Wok n Grill in Cambridge. It’s a nicely priced option for lunches, coming in at less than eight pounds. Dinners are priced at about 13 to 15 pounds, depending on the day of the week. Sundays have a set price of 11.8 pounds all day. Hardly expensive, considering the dining options and a definite food quality that is the closest I have found to U.S.-style Chinese restaurants.
Patrons can bury their plates at the buffet with a sufficient selection of starters, a variety of hand-rolled sushi, main courses and rice and noodles. Finally, each dish has its own flavor.
Starters include satay chicken, spring rolls, crispy seaweed, barbecued pork ribs, stuffed crab claws and more. Some of the main dishes I tried and can vouch for are the Sichuan roast pork, salt-and-pepper chicken wings, beef with coriander and vegetables and sautéed chili mushrooms.
Also, a small but tasty dessert area offers fresh fruit, ice cream and an assorted selection of cakes.
Wok n Grill, which is a small chain of restaurants in a few cities around the United Kingdom, opened its doors in Cambridge at the Coach and Horses pub about a year ago and has since become a popular lunch and dinner destination in this historic college town.
One unique aspect that sets the Wok n Grill apart is the use of a teppanyaki grill — a flat grill, usually gas-heated, that is often mistakenly referred to as a hibachi. Or, you can have your food prepared in a wok, whichever you prefer.
Just get in line, choose your ingredients from a range of meat, seafood and vegetables and select a desirable sauce. Each sauce has its own level of spiciness, indicated on the menu by one, two or three chili peppers.
Pass your gatherings on to one of the genuine Hong Kong chefs and watch them transform your selection into an authentically prepared meal.
No matter which dining experience you choose, the buffet or teppanyaki grill, the Coach and Horses Wok n Grill will assuredly be one of your favorite Asian food restaurants around. Unless it’s going to be a late night at the local pub.
Location: 18 High Street, Trumpington, Cambridge CB2 2LP
Directions: From RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, drive to the Five Ways roundabout and head west on the A11 toward London/Newmarket. Veer right when the A11 and the A14 split between Newmarket and Cambridge. At Junction 35, take the A1303 exit toward Cambridge/Burwell. After exiting, stay in the left lane and turn left at the roundabout onto the A1303. Go straight through two roundabouts and at the third take the first exit onto East Road/A603, which is also called Ring Road. Stay straight on Ring Road until you reach the T intersection at Trumpington Road. Take a left on Trumpington and continue until you see the Horse and Carriage Wok and Grill. It will be on the right, not far past the Cambridge Lakes Golf Course.
Hours: Monday-Saturday lunch hours are 12-2:30 p.m.; dinner hours are 5:30-11 p.m. Sunday hours are 12-10 p.m.
Foods: Traditional Chinese dishes prepared by chefs from Hong Kong and the Guangdong province of China.
Prices: Lunch and dinner prices for adults are 7.8 pounds and 12.8 pounds, respectively. Children’s lunch and dinner prices are 4.8 pounds and 7.3 pounds, respectively. Sunday’s adult and children prices are 11.8 pounds and 7.3 pounds, respectively. The buffet and grill are both included in the set price.
Reservations: Reservations should be made for all weekend meals. During the week, seating is first come, first served.
Parking: The Wok n Grill has plenty of parking behind the establishment. Just follow the signs.