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Cheap Eat Chinatown: Shall We Compromise?

To be honest, having wurst-ing my weekend away in Germany, I run out of time blogging. This one is going to be just a brief sharing blog on places I go in and near Chinatown when the money was low.

The busiest spot for super cheap food in Chinatown, it seems, is Misato, one good Japanese restaurant that serves food on what seems a tray rather than a plate. Yes, the portion is the X factor of this rather run-down-looking restaurant, the epitome of if-you-pay-cheap-you-ain’t-get-atmosphere type. Be warned as the queue can be immense at lunch and dinner time. My pick for food? The pork tonkatsu–enormous, deep fried pork chop topped with omelette and light Japanese onion gravy. It also comes with a salad and a mountain of steamed Japanese rice. Priced only at about £7, there are compromises to be made. The cut of pork is never brilliant and the salad dressing that could bug you how unhealthy a salad could get. Through the years of eating there and hearing feedbacks from friends, it’s best to stick to the deep fried dishes–tonkatsu, curry, etc.–served with rice and do not order the sushi there. My latest experience has also informed me of the marvellous prawn tempura that you could not taste, or even see, the prawn meat inside the batter.

My second pick is Far East Cafe. I am actually quite impressed with their steamed buns. Unlike the big £1.20 buns to go on Newport Court that taste of fat and connecting tissue, the Far East ones are nice, fluffy and packed with flavours. And packed with fillings, too? Not always, but I’d say, there is enough filling to induce your satisfaction of eating a steamed bun. The congee with pickled vegetable toppings is lovely enough to get by and invokes some of my childhood memory. And how much is it priced? About £4 something for the congee and £1.20 for the buns, which I usually need two or three of different filling to stuff me up, plus an egg custard tart!

If you head for Far East Cafe in the early hours, pick up their freshly fried doughs or their deep fried buns. They are really good when hot, but if you are there late, just do not bother! The cold ones have the taste of chewy paper soaked in oil. I wonder how could it be that different! Dishes to avoid–there are a few in most cheap eat places!–are, for instance, Cheng Fun as it seemingly contains to meat at all.

The last but by far the least is Rosa’s, a Thai eatery that has been branched out from its East End family. They do a very good lunch deal and the Pad Thai that tastes true to Bangkok’s hawkers, providing you order the prawn version. My favourite, however, is the Laab Gai–minced chicken salad with tangy lime juice, mint and chilli, and I also try their Pomelo Salad–pomelo simmered in coconut milk served with double cooked crispy tofu–which I find delicate. The generous portion also makes Rosa’s worth bookmarking. Not all dishes is authentic, I must say, and many of the curry dishes, such as pumpkin curry, are garnished with so many western roots that keep Thai purists scractch their head. And their flavours are right out of market, not Bangkokian ones but more from Spitalfields.

Enough said, I will not attempt rating here due the flavour and quality inconsistency of their whole menus but here are the addresses:

MISATO

11 Wardour Street
London
W1D 6PG

Tel. 020 7734 0808

Misato on Urbanspoon

FAR EAST CAFE

27 Gerrard Street
London
W1D 6JN

Tel. 020 7437 3186

Far East Chinese on Urbanspoon

ROSA’S

48 Dean Street
London
W1D 5BF

Tel. 0207 494 1638

www.rosaslondon.com/soho

Rosa's Soho on Urbanspoon