Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Three Chinese restaurants in one week

Failed to buy Neil a present on holiday, and having returned home with a very British craving for Chinese food, I treated us instead to a meal at Pacific. As it turned out I ended up eating in Chinatown three times in a week, very rare and extremely decadent. Here’s what I found:

What I ate: Vegetarian prawn dumplings, Quorn pieces in black bean sauce, seasonal veg with garlic sauce, egg fried rice, soft noodles and bean sprouts, Tsing Tao beers
What I paid: £29
A little pricier than most of Chinatown but that bit cooler and more stylish. Good user-friendly menu with ethos explained in the front. Bonus points for Quorn dishes and lovely seasonal sides, plus rarities like the prawn dumplings. No idea what’s in those. The waitress brought the steamed version when I’d asked for fried and when I tried to explain the mistake she hadn’t a clue what I was trying to say. Still, it tasted great. Good place for a date I would think.

China City
What I ate: Rainbow soup, mixed vegetarian dim sum platter, gluten sweet and sour duck, boiled rice, soft noodles with bean sprouts, Tsing Tao beer
What I paid: £18
Cheapest of the lot, full of cool Chinese teens and lovely staff. Soup was a bit uninspiring, doused with soy and pepper it was much improved, but you shouldn’t have to really. Oughtn’t to have strayed from my usual hot and sour but it did have the word ‘rainbow’ in it. Mixed platter was nice, lots of seaweed and particularly good Chinese samosas. Most people balk at the notion of gluten duck but I love it even though it’s probably killing me, and theirs was tasty. Generous portions too. This one’s on me.

Pan Asia
What I ate: Veggie sushi, crispy chilli veggie beef, soft noodles, Tiger beers
What I paid: £26
Classic work do venue, this time for my best mate Joffrey’s 30th though, and fave meal of the week for me, though a couple of other people found their dishes too salty. Generous portions again, next time I’ll split a main with someone and get soup and shared platter for starters. Bonus for offering sushi, and veggie sushi at that. The chilli beef dish is brand new to the menu and I thought was divine. I would normally stick with tofu and veg but I seem to have gone mad on meat substitutes this week, for whatever reason. My only gripe was they pushed Tiger beers on us and when we twigged it was a full quid dearer than other beers they took the drinks list away! Could just be paranoid. My favourite moment was when the waiter, in preparation for a surprise rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ replete with ice-cream and sparklers, whispered in Joff’s ear ‘Whose birthday is it?’ and Joff dourly replied ‘Mine’. Oops. Keep for special occasions.

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