Amy Poon's Wontoneria Arrives at Sotheby's for Asia Week

Amy Poon's Wontoneria Arrives at Sotheby's for Asia Week

This spring, to celebrate Asia Week, Sotheby’s has partnered with Amy Poon to bring a taste of Asia to Sotheby’s Restaurant on New Bond Street.
This spring, to celebrate Asia Week, Sotheby’s has partnered with Amy Poon to bring a taste of Asia to Sotheby’s Restaurant on New Bond Street.

Mariko Finch: You come from a family with a great culinary history, most notably your father, Bill Poon. How do you carry on that legacy in the work you’re doing now?

Amy Poon: Legacy is a rather weighty word! I've avoided a career in the restaurant industry for most of my professional life. A dawning realisation of and appreciation for what my parents created and built lead me to try resurrecting the name. Fortunately, there seem to be lots of fond memories of Poon's and goodwill for the name. I'm not a professional chef so I will never be able to do what my father did but I consult him and my mother on all culinary aspects of the business. At the heart of every food product we make is a simple question, would my parents eat this? It's easy, I think, to get lost in the noise, particularly with social media nowadays, so in an attempt to safeguard my parents' fundamental beliefs in good honest food, I have to adhere to my father's standards. If he says three grains of salt, I try.

Cecilia and Bill Poon in the kitchen of their restaurant. Courtesy Amy Poon.

I try to focus on my knitting and I love collaborating with people who I think share a fundamental love of food and respect for how it comes about and the effort and dedication it takes to work in the food business. My parents had staff who worked with them for over 30 years. My mother had a simple philosophy, look after your staff and your staff will look after you. This is something that I have always carried with me, a belief in creating a kind, respectful and considerate working environment and culture.

What’s the most surprising thing you encountered in the course of founding Poon’s?

I discover things everyday but I am always blown away by customers who remember Poon's in the 70s, 80s and 90s and who get in touch to share their wonderful memories and stories, from famous photographers to plumbers who serviced the restaurants. I have shared some of these on my Instagram. They never fail to touch me and keep me going when the going is tough. I have been going through boxes that have been in storage and have discovered so many wonderful things - old Poon’s crockery, photos of my parents hosting various dinners and events with Sergio Mendes, Jean-Michel Cazes, James Galway. I found a postcard signed by Sean Connery to me, so many menus for banquets and dinners. I guess it's a discovery of so many untold stories and also a reminder that my parents were once young and ambitious and brave. I think we forget that about parents and grandparents.

A selection of Wonton's from Poons.

Knowing what you know now, what piece of advice would you give your younger self?

My younger self wasn't very good at taking advice, I don't think my older self is either. I do try to remind my children now of the bigger picture. I think keeping things in perspective can be very helpful.

What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten, and where in the world was it?

This is a very difficult one. I've eaten so well over the years and had some extraordinary meals and food experiences. If I had to choose one, I think it would have to be my grandfather’s 80th birthday banquet which my father hosted at Poon’s in the City for over 100 guests. The kitchen prepped and cooked for days in advance – master stock made with an entire pig and kilos of Yunnan ham brought from China, abalone, lobster, dried scallops, steamed huge turbots, and long life noodles so long I had to stand on my chair to serve them (you must never cut noodles on someone’s birthday, the length of noodle symbolising the length of life), pillowy rose-tinged longevity buns filled with lotus paste. It was not just a culinary experience but an homage to life, and age and achievement and survival, celebrated through the language of food.

Which famous figures – from history or the present day – would you invite to your dream dinner party, and why?

I don't have any fantasy guests. My friends are all accomplished, interesting, funny clever people. It's hard enough to find time for dinner with them let alone make-belief scenarios. Every so often I cook an informal dinner for women I have met in the food space. Hattie Ellis, Helen Goh, Fuchsia Dunlop, Jenny Linford, Jenny Lau, Nicola Lando have all been for supper and I love these gatherings. I derive such energy, inspiration and joy from being around these brilliant individuals.

Amy and Bill Poon at the Wontoneria, London, 2023. Courtesy Amy Poon.

How would you describe the personality of London’s restaurant scene?

As a consumer, I think it’s brilliant – broad and ballsy, vibrant, creative, collaborative, experimental and at times overwhelming. As an operator, I find it slightly terrifying, a little fast and sometimes fickle.

You’ve just touched down in London for one night only, where would go for a meal? (Aside from your own restaurant, of course!)

Without contest, dinner at “The Mothership,” my parents’! Otherwise, a tricky one to answer – like which child would I see! It would depend on where I touched down from. I seldom don’t want Chinese food but I love crab, steak tartare, French fries, liver, aubergines, fresh sardines and anything with anchovies. I like food that is simple and honest. Then there are restaurants of course that have emotional significance. I always have a good meal at Clarke’s.

What’s the one kitchen item or ingredient you cannot live without?

Wooden chopsticks – I use them for everything - mixing, beating, cooking, straining, poking things to see if they’re cooked, to keep pot lids ajar, as a trivet and of course eating!

Are there any exciting projects you are currently working on that you can share with us?

We are looking for a permanent home for Wontoneria so if anyone knows of a suitable site, do let us know!

Poon’s wontons will be available every day at at Sotheby’s Restaurant between 12pm and 3.30pm from 3-19th May (excluding 6-8 and 13-14 May). To ensure you don’t miss out, reserve your table using the link below.


Sotheby's Restaurant

About the Author

More from Sotheby's

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top