Just wing it: A look into the best Wingman in Hong Kong
23 Jul 2020
“Wings are the best part of the chicken because every bite is the perfect ratio of skin to meat to sauce" shares one of the chefs at the funky Central speciality joint Wingman. Unsurprisingly, as a city that enjoys a pair (or ten!) of perfectly cooked wings, Wingman has been the go-to since they first opened their doors in 2018. While it may be difficult to believe that success did not happen instantly for the founders: Jack Law and Elliot Nicholas, it was a process to get to where they are. Fortunately, we had a chance to speak with the dynamic duo themselves about how they went from 20-something-year-old wing junkies to some of Hong Kong’s biggest wing specialists.
If you did not know, the Central wing hotspot that we know (and love!) today was actually born out of a boozy conversation that occurred around five years ago back in 2015. “Jack and I were drinking and talking about F&B in Hong Kong when I mentioned that one of the best places in my [university] town was this little wings place that everyone would go to for dinner and pre-drinks before heading out,” Nicholas remarked. The dashing pair then mulled over the fact that Hong Kong didn't have any single-dish places dedicated to wings. Realising the need for a good wing go-to, Elliot and Jack started to get their gears going and play around with names.
Fun fact: Wingman was originally named “Ho Wing”, a wordplay on the Chinese phrase which means “good wing” or “tipsy” which pretty much summed up the founders’ intentions.
Fast forward a few years, the Wingman team had managed to strike a partnership with the gourmet burger joint, Burger Joys, which helped deliver wings straight out of the latter’s kitchen. “Going delivery-only at first… I could lie and say it was a strategic decision, but the reality is that we didn't have enough money to open a restaurant haha!” admitted the one-half of the wing twosome. With luck on their side, this move actually benefited the business as it created hype and developed a cult following which, unfortunately, many restaurants do not have the luxury of.
The wind beneath Wingman’s wings
Even though nothing says I love you more than carbs, no other food truly brings people together the way a plate of wings does. Completely accessible, unpretentious and unique, wings are generally loved by most from adults to kids alike. While there is no one way to describe the ‘perfect wing’, Elliot shares the main things to look out for are “crispy skin, a good sauce/rub to coat the skin, a juicy inside and flavourful meat” and as wing specialists, the team prides itself on the time, care and effort put forth into each wing.
Using a secret, housemade brine, the wings are marinated for over 12 hours ensuring that the meat remains tender, juicy and full of flavour. “I can't see too many other restaurants taking this level of care over the humble wing!” Elliot proudly boasts. Not called wing specialists for nothing, at Wingman you’ll also find that each wing is a different flavour sensation. A testament of this is their signature Espresso BBQ and the well-loved traditional Gai Bo with a modern, elevated twist.
“We’re not trying to make a whole menu of flavours that everyone likes” Elliot strongly remarks. A great deal of the designated wing joint’s charm comes from their drive to create as many flavours as possible. Holding an ‘artistic license’ to stay innovative and imaginative, chefs are more than encouraged to experiment and mess around with new flavours - the sky’s the limit (or possibly even beyond!). It keeps things interesting when hardly two people have the same favourite.
Earned their wings
Contrary to popular belief (or maybe not!), running a single-dish restaurant is no easy feat. “First and foremost, it is making sure that the wings are simply the best wings you will try in Hong Kong. If you can go somewhere else for our speciality and they do it better, we are in trouble,” confessed the wingmen. There was also an instance where the diner ran out of stock with an hour of service to go. A lesson learned for sure because truthfully, it is not as if the guests could just eat something else.
An example of how the COVID-19 pandemic has put the world on hold, Hong Kong’s very own Wingman was invited to a Wing Festival and Competition in London to showcase a whole range of crazy and delicious flavours and bring home the gold. However, not all hope is lost because these flavours are currently on the back burner and saved for a momentous occasion!
Wait in the wings
Some good news for diners on the other side of the harbour, Elliot and Jack teases that they would be opening their first branch in Kowloon in the near future. They have also pushed forward the launch of their planned breakfast menu, including a take on the Duck & Waffle and a Smashed Avocado Sourdough Toast with a Wingman Panko Crusted Egg! As for now, the Wingman team wishes nothing but the best for the F&B scene to come out the other side stronger.
Get your wing fix any time of the day and at the comfort of your own home at www.wingman.hk