Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
This smart little Chinese restaurant is set out like a fast-food joint, and the name also suggests the kind of service you might expect....

This smart little Chinese restaurant is set out like a fast-food joint, and the name also suggests the kind of service you might expect. Tiled floors, bright lights, fast-food style tills and a serving bar all contribute. But wait! These crazy Hong Kong people simply don’t seem to have grasped the basics of how a fast food outlet really works. The design of the place is stylish, understated. The tables are decorated with large, beautiful arrangements of fresh flowers. Everything is glitteringly immaculate, even the heavy cutlery and wine glasses. Yes, wine glasses. What’s going on here?

When the hungry customer arrives at a fast-food joint, he expects to stand gawping at the menu and shuffling his feet until he gets to the front of the sullen queue. But here, smiling and friendly staff come out from behind the bar to greet you, and show you to a table if you so wish. Madness! Then, naturally enough, the customer expects to hang around for a while. That’s the idea of fast food, right? But not here! No, they say ‘express’ and they mean it. Everything is produced within five minutes, more or less. So surely, it must have been raked out of a freezer and flung into a microwave? Not so. Once more, the Hong Kong Express really hasn’t worked this one out. You can actually watch them cook this food with fresh ingredients right there and then. In five minutes!

So, finally, the downside has got to be either the food, or the prices, has it not? What sort of a fast food restaurant would it be otherwise? In both these areas, Hong Kong Express plays its trump cards. The prices are fast food level, alright – less than £5 for a main course, rice included. But the crowning glory of this delightful restaurant is the quality of the food – such delicious, fresh, and tasty fare can be hard to find even in the fanciest Chinese restaurants. Admittedly the menu is neither vast nor adventurous, but it does not need to be. Every dish is simple but splendid, a generous portion, attractively served and piping hot.

It may seem churlish to criticise but, hey, that’s why you’re reading this, right? Matt and Cat usually visit the restaurant in the daytime, but it’s worth remembering that in the evening it is a bit of a fast-food hangout for those emerging from pubs. On a recent visit M and C found that the place was a bit cluttered up with scruffy hangers-on, who were not dining but sat around idling, and passing to and fro from the kitchen for no apparent reason. They may or may not have been delivery drivers awaiting orders, or just off-duty lorry drivers keeping warm. Anywhere else this would have gone unnoticed, but it seemed to jar with the stylish slickness of this place. Perhaps Hong Kong Express can invest in a couple of silk embroidered sheets to throw over these chaps when they are not in use.

You may not be too shocked to learn that Matt and Cat are regular patrons of this place. It does takeaway too, if you want it, but frankly, the eat-in experience is so positive and quick that it seems pointless not to just sit there and enjoy it.

UPDATE March 2006: Following an accidental fire and some major roadworks outside, this fine eatery seems to be closed at present. We hope it’s just seasonal! There appears to be plenty of work going on inside so we expect them to be back soon.

UPDATE April 2006: Yes, they’re back! Matt and Cat have been back to try their favourite Chinese within a few days of their reopening, and can confirm with great pleasure that the Hong Kong Express is firing on all cylinders again.
Hong Kong Express, Ryde

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  • Pete

    17th December 2015 #1 Author

    Um. Dropped in for a late night spring roll to fill a gap. I asked if they made them in house. I was briefly assured that they were. Said roll arrived and proved to be still cold in the middle. Obviously not home made but out of a macro/cosco packet. Just okay if they had managed to cook it… But they didn’t. I was the only customer!

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  • Sailor Sam

    30th October 2012 #2 Author

    Having visited the West Midlands recently, I ventured into a Chinese takeaway and had a duck chow mein. It was very agreeable so I tried one at HKE to see how it compared and I would say it was equally as good. What was different though was the price. HKE was over £2 dearer.

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  • Alison

    19th May 2012 #3 Author

    The last two take-aways we had from HKE were the worse we have ever had. I had crispy beef both times and the beef was rubbery and on the last occasion we waiting over an hour and a half for delivery so all the food was cold and we had to reheat in the microwave. I too sent an email to the owner, not asking for anything but just stating how disappointed I was and I also did not even have the courtesy of a reply. We have never been to HKE again up until then we had been regular customers at least ordering a take-away once a month sometimes more often. Had the owner given me a courtesy of a reply maybe I would have given them another try.

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  • Jim

    6th January 2012 #4 Author

    Fantastic place, great food, great staff and service, great prices and faster than McDonalds. We use HKE for both take away and eat in, neither dissapoint. The staff are always happy to bag up what the kids don’t finish too. Out of all the places to eat in Ryde, HKE and Michelangelo’s are my favourites.

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  • Rosie

    5th January 2012 #5 Author

    Food is fantastic the hygene rating has gone up recently as it stated there. Most people dont know that hygiene and food quality isnt the same. Also what i have noticed is that 1 of the new staff there is very friendly

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  • Jonathan

    6th September 2011 #6 Author

    Made an impromptu stop there last week as it was getting late and neither my wife or I wanted to cook when we got home. I had Thai style chicken wings to start although I did struggle to identify the Thai influence as they seemed pretty standard fare, tasted alright though! I followed this with the Shanghai Crispy Chicken having had it previously at the Newport branch, delicious as ever with plenty of the sweet/sour/spicy sauce. My wife asked for a vegetarian version of the Singapore Fried Noodles which they happily obliged with along with a portion of Fried Bean Curd Szechuan Style. We both left full and satisfied and will be back when next in Ryde. THe only disappointment was forgetting to put the leftovers in the fridge on our return so we were unable to enjoy them the following day!

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  • da yw wyth

    25th August 2011 #7 Author

    Very disappointed by a recent trip here. Food tasted ghastly and some suspicious looking bits and pieces in with the meat. Maybe this place has gone downhill since last year, when I heard it being praised by a bona fide Chinese person…

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  • Sailor Sam

    3rd May 2011 #8 Author

    If you mean the one in Ryde Tom, maybe it’s because that the toilets are nearly always out of order? I believe they are a requirement (especially hand washing facilities) when serving food to eat on the premises. However, I have always found the food to be of very good standard and good value compared to other nearby take aways.

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  • Tom

    3rd May 2011 #9 Author

    have you seen the new food hygiene for Hong kong express this place only got one, major inprovements needed ,

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  • Dan

    6th December 2010 #10 Author

    hey you should really try the take away out , what can i say , its horrible , chips are cooked in nasty oil,sweet and sour has no tatse, water down sauce , i tryed email the owner but hes could not be brotherd to answer me its been 3 weeks now .Its a shame ive use this place many times , its seem like the food is rushed. i love chinese food but hong kong express does not have the wow factor for me.

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  • Ali

    12th September 2010 #11 Author

    I find eating in at HKE Ryde, the food is very different to when we have food delivered home from there. The home delivery meals are nowhere near as good and we prefer to order deliveries from the Newport shop. We last ordered Chilli Pork from Ryde and it was extremely dry. Have enjoyed meals in the restaurant but HKE Newport is better for take aways. Recommend Chilli Chicken.

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  • Graham & Carla

    20th May 2010 #12 Author

    Having recently moved to the island and openly admit to being food lovers (of any kind), your website is proving invaluable! Paid an unplanned visit to HK Express in Ryde last night and have to agree totally with your views. Service was attentive and friendly, the food was hot, fresh and delicious (I can vouch for the mighty fine Szechuan chicken!) For me there is little more you can ask for. Living in Ryde I have a feeling we will be regular visitors!

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  • Emma-Jane Dyer

    27th September 2009 #13 Author

    Yes, I agree I have eaten a few times at hong kong express and the chicken chow mein is the best I have had. However, the other evening we stopped for a quick bite to eat and I was rather unimpressed with the food. Very bland and tasteless. I must still rate Jade Garden takeaway in East Cowes as very good. Delivery service is prompt, and the food of a very high standard.

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  • Jojo Lei Hang

    10th June 2009 #14 Author

    Oh by the way we also have one in freshwater 🙂

    M & C respond: we know!

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  • Jojo Lei Hang

    10th June 2009 #15 Author

    Hi Matt and Cat thanks for the review of our family business 🙂
    I have also created a facebook group for Hong Kong Express fans 🙂

    Jo-Lei

    Reply

  • jannette

    15th December 2008 #16 Author

    I tried to buy a voucher as a christmas present, I emailed first to make sure I could do this. But, the girl who answered the phone obviously thought it was a good joke and didn’t have a clue what I was on about. So, I and my mum and dad (who the present was for) will remain oblivious to this place for now. It was due to your recommendations that I tried.

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  • D

    19th May 2008 #17 Author

    Think I’m going to upset the apple-cart on this one judging by the comments above. I have used this place four times now and every time has been the same – very fresh ingredients but no flavour. If they sort themselves out and make this food the mouth-watering, beautifully flavoured fare that Chinese cuisine can be then I will start using them again. All the time they are wasting great ingredients through poor or no seasoning though I will not waste my money. After all – anyone can cook chinese!

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  • Immi

    4th December 2007 #18 Author

    There is a Hong Kong Express in Newport now too, and it’s much nicer than the one in Ryde.

    Also, to the most recent comment, there are, in actual fact, two kebab shops in Ryde.

    Matt and Cat respond: Thank you for your comment. We reviewed the Hong Kong Express, Newport in November 2006. Read our review here.

    Reply

  • Matt

    20th April 2007 #19 Author

    [Comment submitted by email and added by editor]
    My name is Graham page. I am a blind person so can’t read the verification graphics for leaving comments so I am sending them to you instead.

    I visited the Isle of wight for the first time for work purposes and got back today. I stayed there for a day.

    Before going there I used your site to find useful places in Ryde so that I could ask how to get to them.

    I am used to getting around as I need to visit clients’ work places as part of my job. this could take me anywhere in the uk though it is often London and today it was Newport in Isle of Wight.

    I chose to stay Monday in Ryde and a person I met on the hovercraft offered to drive me to the Abingdon Lodge where I stayed. I was hoping for a bar and food there but apparently the chef is off on Monday and this also meant the owner didn’t want to open the bar either. The place only had 2 other people staying to be fair.

    I therefore asked him for directions to the Hong Kong express and went in search of it.

    I had Hot and Sour Soup followed by the Dragon Special with fried rice. It is really useful for me and many other blind people when restaurants have web sites so you can look up what you may want to eat beforehand.

    The soup was not the most spicy I have had and compared to others I would say the bits were ground up small. It was impossible to recognise what kind of meat or fish I was eating when eating the dragon Special. This could have been the way it was cooked as chinese people do often steam meat or it could have just been very processed. Prices were reasonable however and there was plenty of food. Service was quick and the woman who helped me to a table didn’t seem to know how to react to a blind person but she got used to it well enough as time went on.

    After this first meal I would say the food was not Gourmet but you can’t complain about the price and quantity, and it is freshly cooked.

    The other eatery I tried was a newish kebab shop called I think the chervin Kebab House. I could not here what the person behind the counter was calling it as he had a strong accent and spoke fast. I have found reference to this in listings of restaurants, and I doubt there are 2 kebab shops on Ryde high street.

    I had a mixed kebab which comes with chicken and lamb shish and the familiar Lamb doner.

    Lamb Doner meet is made with rolled mince lamb and often includes added lamb fat or lard to bulk it out. It is often quite greasy and usually not of high quality. The Shish meat should be proper cubes of meat and this was certainly proper chicken and lamb well cooked. I personally think the salad should contain plenty of raw onion and cabbage. This one had these things but also had lettuce which I would rather not see. I would rate this kebab shop then as being of just above average quality. The shish kebabs are definitely worth a try. It’s worth specifying what salad you want in a kebab shop, I just wanted to see what would appear by default.

    My only other comment is that while wondering through Newport, following directions to Lugley street, I stumbled into what I found out was a church serving people orange juice and buns. it seemed full of old people from yourkshire (going by their acents I would say generally south yorkshire). none of them could tell mee where Lugley house was but they were all too keen to offer me barely diluted orange squash and biskets!

    Over all people were extremely friendly and I would have no hesitation in going back there on my own knowing I could probably find my way from a to b and I look forward to trying out some of your other food recommendations.

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  • Matt

    9th May 2006 #20 Author

    They are certainly back. And we are glad! Now check out their great new website at http://www.hongkongexpress.co.uk/ which comes complete with instructions on how to use chopsticks, and some of the cheesiest chinese music ever!

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  • Louise

    5th May 2006 #21 Author

    You’ll be pleased to know that they are open again and doing the same fantastic business as ever. We love the place as is evident in our ever-increasing waistlines!

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  • Andrew

    5th March 2006 #22 Author

    I love it when they cook the food in front of you. Its a bit of a show as well.

    Reply