Tuesday, December 19, 2006

# Cold night, hot food

Sometimes life can feels so sweet with such simple things...

It was just another misty, cold London night and we decided to have some hot food in China Town. As usual, almost all the restaurants were packed full with people, even the ever-famous Wong Kei which attracts many customers to its no-frills super rude service.

We nearly gave up until we saw "1997", which surprisingly does not have too many customers inside. At first we were a bit hesitant, but the warmth of the waiter in welcoming us made us decide to give it a try.

It was pleasant to see the surrounding was clean enough, and I was more pleasantly surprised to find the old style marble top table with patterns adorning its wooden edge. Ah, such a sweet old memories of childhood...

Despite the ongoing swearing and gossiping among the workers, they were very friendly towards customers. Service was fast and we were immediately served with hot chinese tea. I particularly like the typical chinese tea cup, which was spot white clean.

I like the kettle even more! It was the typical old-style kettle we used at home, large and bullky and easy to get burned with the hot metal surface. Yup, this IS the kettle where our tea is put. A more common ettique was to provide customers with the smaller and more decorated teapot, but I just love the old-fashioned style of presentation.

The cutleries were standard too. Ancient wooden chopsticks in bamboo container. Red-colour menu with best dishes of the day. And of course, the essential soya sauce and toothpick in traditional chinese restaurant!

I just love the setting of the restaurant - the old-style furniture and cutleries and the simple yet clean environment. It brought back so much childhood memories of the older times when everything was so simple. Life was thrifty and simple. Household equipments were old but durable. People were friendly...

I was already starting to fall in love with this cute little restaurant.

Despite the name of the restaurant being very Hong-Kong-ish, ("1997"), the cooks and many of the staffs were from Malaysia. So they do a lot of Malaysian dish. We all decided to go for the curry mee to cure homesickness... Wow, the portion was huge, and they sure put a lot of ingredients in it! Though it does not taste authentic enough, I am satisfied with the compensation by lots of ingredients in it. However, it's still a bit expensive for a bowl of curry mee.

Hot tea poured from the traditional kettle = 0 pound
Unauthentic curry mee but with lots of "liao" = 7 pounds per bowl
Wonderful dining experience at a cold night in London = PRICELESS


Oh ya, I forgot to mentioned one important feature. The bowl which they put our curry mee in, was not the conventional bowl too. They just put it in the metal pot (the shape is similar to those clay pots) which they used to heat up the food with. Here's a picture which shows my bowl, erm, pot, more clearly.


Z.J. said...


和英国贵族式的下午茶相比较, 是完全两样品味.

从你第四张相中所见, 有一种大排档的感觉.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Now, an experience like that is definitely worth going out and paying for, especially this ultra-sentimental time of the year!

Have you ever noticed that "famous" restaurants can often tend to have crappy service, and it's often the lesser-known, less "hip" ones that give you the most memorable dinners?

It least it often seems that way to me. That's why I tend to avoid "famous" restaurants.

YD said...

Yes Z.J., the restaurant adopts a "Tai-pai-tong" style. I enjoyed the dining experience there for the little things that exhibit strands of tradition.

You are so right. I have a tendency to avoid "famous" restaurants too, just can't stand waiting for hours for crappy service and being hushed right after you finish the last piece of food.

My friends and I have been scouting for small cosy coffee shops which make their efforts to create a unique environment and taste. We've found a few, but haven't got the pictures yet. Will do some post after we revisited them. :-)

And yes, it is indeed the super-sentimental time of the year... More post coming up about christmas. ;-) yearly tradition.

Pandabonium said...

Just the place you needed to nourish you, body and soul.

There are many corporate restaurants which replicate the exact same food everywhere in the world, every time one visits. They vary from fast junk food to "family style", to high end chains started by famous chefs, but all are the least rewarding.

The eateries run with the owner's personal attention may not be perfect, but they can offer unique experiences with just enough "strands of tradition" as you put it to draw out the memories of the things you love and miss.

Robin said...

For me, I would prefer a simple meal, in less crowded place, and friendly waiter with a smile.. then que for long wait and rude waiter.

Curry mee at 7 pounds.. hmm. hotel rates in Sg abt the same price.. Well, I hope u shared the noddle with someone else.. (although it may be a no no in most ang mo place)

Seem like too much food for the small YD.

YD said...

Meaningful words, panda. Thanks! "The place to nourish your body and soul", how true.

Robin, I'm not particularly "small", hehe.... But nevertheless, I didn't manage to finish the whole bowl cuz the portion is really too big. Ya, it's a no no to order food to share, not so much because it's in ang mo's place, but because the chinese restaurant waiters will curse you and said bad words. :-(