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Hunan(Chinese Restaurant Blues)

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Hunan(Chinese Restaurant Blues)

Tony Finch | Nov 22, 2001 05:32 AM

A trip to the much vaunted (on this board and elsewhere)Hunan in Chelsea last night reminded me EXACTLY of why I have avoided going to Chinese restaurants in London for the last couple of years.

The place was jam packed(not their fault,obviously)and very cramped and noisy. Everyone appeared to be smoking.I'm not an anti-smoking nut but as the evening wore on we were eating in a sweaty,uncomfortable fug.

Service was not unpleasant but was very rushed and offhand.The leave-it-all-to-us menu option,which most people apparently choose,meant that a succession of dishes were slapped down in an order that defied all semblance of balance and harmony.Mussels followed chicken,prawns followed pork,duck followed beef.Some of the dishes were OK,but everything tasted so SALTY.No rice was proffered.The only carbs were in the form of the pancakes accompanying an odd version of crispy duck in which the duck had been stewed in a lurid,glutinous sauce.This was not a nice dish.

Despite apparently being on the same sampler option,others seemed to be getting different dishes.The maitre d. seemed primarily interested in a group of chain smoking Chinese businessmen next to us who were definitely getting completely different food(including bowls of steaming rice).

After said duck a curious exchange took place:

Waitress:That's it.You finished.You want more?

Me:Sorry?

W:You want more?

M:(being greedy bastard)Well,if there's more I'll have more.

W:No more for you.If you have more you feel sick.

I'm not sure what misunderstandings were going on here but I was left wondering:
a)was this my mother?
b)why had she asked in the first place.

I dunno.Maybe I just didn't get it.With no wine(the wine list is very reasonably priced) but with tea and service the bill came to £62 for two.Not the most expensive night out in London but a lot to pay,I thought,for yet another dispiriting Chinese restaurant experience.

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