The first time I visited England was in the late eighties, when I was still in college. I had no money then, as one does in college, but my then-boyfriend’s mother lived here, so we scrimped and saved and came for three weeks after the end of a spring semester. It was the first time he’d seen her in years (she had moved back here after divorcing his father, leaving most of the kids in the States). So it was important emotionally, but it was also the first time I’d been anywhere–by a long shot. Almost the first time I’d been out of California.
We stayed most of the time with her in Christchurch, because the point was visiting his mom and also we had no money, but we did spend a few days in London (visiting an uncle and seeing the city), so I did get some sense of the place.
In my next lifetime, when I was a trophy wife, I visited London several times, and stayed in fancy hotels and toured Buckingham Palace and met rock stars and took the Eurostar to Paris and saw lots of first-rate theatre and all that, and so I got a different view of the place.
But one thing held true through all of that London experience: Chinese food was to be avoided at all costs.
Indian food–sure, absolutely! And French, and maybe Malaysian, but that was about it. Otherwise, stick to pubs. In no way should one attempt Chinese food (or Mexican). Especially if you were from California. You’d likely never recover from the shock and horror.
But London is different now. Our (temporary) neighborhood is deeply ethnic–every kind of restaurant, every language on the streets. And though Halal places are the most prevalent, there must be half a dozen Chinese places within two blocks of here.
So today, after a grueling day touristing St. Paul’s (including climbing ALL THE WAY to the top) and the Tower, and then my boots breaking and I had to buy others, and then our favorite pub was all crowded up–we tried this unassuming joint called Kam Tong.
OH MY GOD it was good. And we ate ten peoples worth of food and drank five peoples worth of wine and left an inappropriately large tip and still it was only around 100 pounds (so normal two people should spend around thirty or forty).
Seriously, you guys, I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight, I’m so full. It was Just So Good.
And I’m so glad to know that it’s okay to eat Chinese food in London now. Dunno about Mexican, though.