A POPULAR Chinese restaurant in Colchester town centre has received top marks from a hygiene inspector months after receiving the lowest rating possible.

Colchester Council’s environmental health team visited China Chef, in Crouch Street, in February, criticising its levels of hygiene.

But owner Kenneth Lo, who has run restaurants in Colchester for 40 years, rubbished the report and said customers would have noticed any issues due to its open plan kitchen.

The report had called for improvement to the restaurant’s handling of food, including preparation cooking, reheating, cooling and storage.

At the time, a spokesman for Colchester Council said: “When one of our environmental health officers undertook an inspection of China Chef, they found several serious food hygiene and health and safety violations.

“These included examples of poor hygiene practice and layout and a food safety management system that had not been followed or maintained since 2019.

“The owners have since been given time to address these issues and a re-inspection is planned to check legal compliance and standards of hygiene, but that will not alter their current one star rating.”

The premises was revisited last month and received top marks of five out of five for hygiene.

Reacting to the high rating, Mr Lo said the council’s first visit had impacted on business.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted we have got our 5 star food hygiene rating back after a recent revisit by a hygiene inspector.

"Earlier this year we were downgraded from 5 star to one star because we had failed to update our food safety management system records, especially for daily fridge and freezer temperature readings for a long period of time.

"This job was done by a senior chef who had left us shortly after the beginning of the Covid pandemic in March 2020, and was picked up on at the time of the hygiene inspector’s visit earlier this year. 

"However in his visit he was satisfied with the cleanliness and condition of the facilities and building. 

"We pride ourselves in our high standard of cleanliness as we have an open-plan kitchen on show to the public." 

He added: "We apologise to our customers for the concerns this may have caused, however the owners are now directly maintaining the Food Safety records themselves and after the re-inspection

"I have never been happier than to display our 5 star food hygiene rating in our shop front window."