THE Tai Pan Express, Rowland Place, Green Lane, Northwood, was named the best Chinese takeaway in the UK at the first ever Golden Chopstick Awards.

Steffie Lai and mum Lai-King Lai, 59, received the award from Gok Wan at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, on behalf of owner and founder Paul Lai, who was on a working break in Hong Kong.

Steffie, 24, one of Paul’s four daughters, said: “It’s a great reward for all the hard work that has gone into his restaurants.”

Steffie, a florist and part-time dance teacher, said the takeaway was one of her father’s three Chinese restaurants.

“We What’s App’d Dad when we got the award so he got to see Gok, at least,” she said.

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“Dad came over here from Hong Kong on his own when he was 14. He stayed with an uncle in London and, as he got older, he got a job as a chef and worked his way up to managing a restaurant.

“He stayed in touch with mum, whom he met at school in Hong Kong and went back to marry her. She then came over and they both worked incredibly hard - and 25 years ago opened their first restaurant.

“It has taken a lot of hard work, old-fashioned grit and determination, but now he is 60 I think he is finally starting to relax and enjoy life a little.

“All four of us, his daughters, have paid our dues working in the Tai Pan during school holidays and while we were students, but none of us has gone into the business as a career.”

The girls all grew up in Northwood, but the family now live in Watford.