Hung’s and a couple of trendier places like HK Diner and Café TPT amongst others. I decided to try HK Diner having had my ear bent over dinner at Hunan on how it's the best 'cheap & cheerful' place in Chinatown. I had my doubts and these weren't assuaged by my bowl of fish ball soup noodles (yu dan tang mein). From the photo, you can't discern anything is wrong and as the fish balls, fish cake and noodles (san mein) are all bought in, there's only one thing they need to get right, the soup.
It's funny how the quality of the food impacts on the overall dining experience. Things that in another time and place might not have bothered me really pissed me off. The English language only menu I was handed consisted of 'Chinese Food for Dummies' and whilst there was a double sided specials menu card, this had English translations on one side only. Now I can't read Chinese properly but I can read numbers. Perhaps I'm being cynical but the bilingual side of the menu seemed to have big ticket items on it whilst the Chinese side of the menu had cheap stuff like soup noodles on it.
Was this a purposeful ploy to steer non-Chinese readers to order more expensive dishes by not translating the cheap one-dish meals into English ? I guess it makes a change from the usual menu divide which segregates more esoteric dishes for Chinese diners from the anglicised dishes on the English menu. It's this kind of practice that gives Chinese restaurants a bad name.
Whilst expectations of service aren't high in Chinatown, I also didn't appreciate the bill being thrust my way whilst I was drinking tea and reading the paper. It wasn't as if there were people waiting for my table and I really needed to drink more tea. It was their loss actually as I was going to order some Cantonese BBQ to take home. Instead I crossed the road and went into Hung’s for a take-away portion of cha siu.
Verdict: On reflection, I shouldn't get so worked up about a bowl of noodles and a pot of tea that cost £6.60 but I don't think I'll be switching my allegiances to HK Diner anytime soon.
Other Stuff: I was intrigued by their claypot rice before I got a strop on. They also serve bubble tea if you like that kind of thing.