The benefits of working in a university is that you find out where all the students eat. Tonight I'm eating at a conceptually confused Japanese restaurant. The proprietor speaks Mandarin, there is kimchi noodles on the menu along with special fried rice and roast duck. I order Singapore noodles, shying away from the fatty katsu curry. My dish it is tasteless but redolent with turmeric.
I spy a plastic container on the bench containing what looks suspiciously like cold Singapore fried noodles. Obviously it's been a while since my noodles have seen any frying, but they do know the insides of a microwave intimately.
I guess I can't complain at £4.50.
I find myself here again, but only because my first choice, Oriental Canteen, is closed. What kind of eatery closes at 9:30 on a Friday night? This time I order roast duck and rice. Dionne Warwick is singing Why Do You Have to be a Heart Breaker in the background. I am the only Asian (Oriental) face here aside from the proprietors – this is telling. It comes with a weird sour-sesame cabbage salad thing.
I won't deign to give Oriental Canteen a picture. They're the best deal for Chinese food in the area and they know it. They wouldn't last two seconds in Sydney of course, but here because the British put up with so much, they do. One afternoon I ordered Char Kuey Teow and asked politely if I could have extra vegetables with that. To which the mainland Chinese girl replied, "No! Only one size." Their roast duck/pork/bbq pork/etc. is just meat and rice - not even the token three green vegetable strands. Their food is passable, but I sense far too much microwave cookery here for my liking. I spy a plate of Singapore noodles that are whisked out of the dumbwaiter almost before the waitress has a chance to shout the order down into the basement kitchen.