Chinatown: curious, colourful, kitsch

by baddieworld

During a two-hour walk through my neighbourhood, I have spotted:

pretty lanterns – yep, hard to believe, but Chinatown has some of these…

the Statue of Liberty taking a break

a very scary dragon…

unidentified yummy objects in an Asian bakery on Canal Street

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cute-looking cupcakes (?) in a bakery on Canal Street… also in stock: green tea custards – must try!

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the biggest and ugliest snow-man I’ve ever seen (1 Essex Street)

jewellery-store window decorations

Cafe Grumpy’s delightful flat white (13 Essex Street); also, their chocolate brownie is to die for!

street vendors offering delicious-looking fruit

Chinatown looking its best at night, arrayed in glittering lights

At the end of my walk I wanted dinner – and this comes with a story. After a bit of walking around, I was starting to get hungry so I stopped in front of an unassuming… well “restaurant” is too grand a term for it – a neon-signed, formica-tabled place to eat where some Chinese-looking people were happily chomping on some food that didn’t look half bad. The menu was mostly in Chinese, with some brief description in English, but by looking around I had already decided I wanted some of those mouth-watering dumplings and some green tea. I point to the menu, and clearly say the words “dumplings with pork and chives”, receive the news that no tea is available, and quickly opt for some noodle soup to warm me up instead. “You want both?” the diminutive Chinese lady asks incredulously. “Dumpling AND noodle soup?” I nod affirmatively, a bit annoyed. That’s surely not disproportionate, I think with a frown. One big dumpling and a bowl of soup… would hardly qualify me as a glutton…

I sit down, and watch as they freshly prepare the noodles in the open-plan kitchen. Five minutes later, the bowl pictured is placed in front of me:

Noodle soup in a restaurant on Catherine Street

The clear broth was light yet tasty, and I added soya sauce and vinegar for that extra umami and sour taste. The noodles were great – and the green leaves – I presume they were bok choy – coupled with the pork made me think of a Romanian specialty I love called “ciorba de salata verde” (salad soup). This soup also had seaweed in it, which I happen to adore, and so I started eating happily.

What I neglected to say was that the size of this bowl was huge. It was the size of a small watermelon – and probably held more than a kilo of soup. Half an hour later, I had managed to eat about 25% of the soup, and was thinking about my lovely dumpling, when what is plonked down in front of me? Why, my dear peckish reader, it was a second bowl of soup. With a rather large dumpling in it. In about one second I realized my mistake – this is why the lady had asked if I wanted both. Not because she was mean, but simply because I had ordered two enormous bowls of food!

I look at my second bowl in dismay and slight despair. A Chinese couple nearby notice, and call out to the waitress. I smile at them. I smile at her. And to cover up for my mistake, and because I am sometimes too ashamed to complain (but not do the passive-agressive bitching-on-my-blog routine) I exclaim: “Oh, I do apologize, I forgot to say I wanted my second soup to go!”

I am delighted to report that my dumpling soup is obediently waiting for my pleasure in my fridge. All’s well that ends well.

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