Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Cafe TPT, 21 Wardour Street, Chinatown, London
Teepeetee is one of my favourite restaurants in Chinatown. We don’t go there as often as I’d like because the bf says that there is no ambience in there.
What he means is that no matter how many people are in there, it never seems noisy or busy enough, unlike the other Chinatown restaurants where you’d be pushed to find elbow space.
For me, as long as the food is good, I could be eating in the store room and wouldn’t be much fussed.
Until now, I’m still trying to figure out what TPT means.
Tai Pai Tong?
It gets squishy in this place very quickly. Service is efficient, as is expected in Chinatown.
While I’m in this topic, some people, usually newbies, have a meal in Chinatown and complain about the service. That is like complaining about the lettuce on your kebab.
Sit, order, eat, go is what you do in restaurants here. None of that chat and chilling out malarky. It’s not because they like being rude (perhaps some of them do) but customers equals profit.
Customers who eat fast equals more customers. More customers equals more profit.
Anyhow, back to this meal at TPT, where the waitresses were very nice.
Chicken with jellyfish (half) £10.50
The first time I tried this dish, I poured the contents of the bowl onto the chicken and jellyfish, assuming it was the sauce to go with it. Mistake.
That is a bowl of some salty stuff, very salty stuff (not quite sure what the stuff is but it’s salty).
The dish is served cold, and the chicken is boiled before being shredded and mixed with the jellyfish. I could taste alot of sesame oil, which is the main ingredient in the dish. Sesame oil on cold chicken just works so well. Without the jellyfish, this would have been a bland dish, but with the jellyfish, there is a whole new dimension to the textures and taste.
Because it’s not served hot, the flavours are given the chance to tap dance their way across your tastebuds. Tapping away, the crunchy jellyfish then bounces from end of your teeth to the other, with the tender and chewy chicken calming things down for the crew.
Fish with spring onion and ginger hotpot £10.50
There’s something about dishes in hot pots that makes my bf choose them everytime he’s at a Chinese restaurant. It could be hotpot fish, hotpot beef, hotpot furry gloves, whatever the hotpot, he’ll have one.
This was a good choice, however, as it was a drizzly and very windy day. In warmer countries, whenever it rains, people tend to want something hot. This doesn’t apply in England as it’s always cold, usually rainy and sometimes windy also. However, on that day, it felt like one of those ‘want something hot’ days, and so we ordered a hot pot.
The fish pieces were done just right, slightly al dante (if you can apply that to fish) with enough bite but yet flaking to show how fresh it is. Stirred in with the starchy gravy, and bok choi which had soaked up all the flavours, this was the perfect dish to have with rice.
Stuffed beancurd £8
The usual policy when dining out with friends is to have one person choose one dish, and have a another dish as the extra to be shared. Whatever cuisine we’re having, it’s common among our group of friends to try each other’s food, and usually we put the dishes in the middle of the table to be shared.
With Chinese cuisine, that is more easily done than when having, say, sausage and mash. Not impossible with sausage and mash, just slightly less appealing having to eat someone else’s shared mash.
This was the dish chosen by another friend, and I had no idea what it’d be like from the name on the menu. Stuffed beancurd made me assume that it’d be deep fried, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had gravy and veg and other little bits on the plate.
Deep fried tofu stuffed with a mixture of pork and prawn, cooked in gravy. This was another dish perfect for eating with rice.
Kailan with oyster sauce £6
This was not a dish from the menu, but kailan is not a tough request, so we just ordered it from the waiter after going over the menu a few times but not finding it there. It was as good as it looks, perhaps even better that it looks.
Strange, you might find. After all, how can a dish of vegetables blanched in hot water, and served with oyster sauce be any different, or any better than if it was served anywhere else?
The main difference is in the quality of the vegetable. If it’s tender yet resistant to the bite, especially at the stalky bits of the veg, you know you’re on to a winner. This was definitely a winner, each and every stalk of the veg. Each bite (I do like the stalks of kailan) was sweet, crunchy yet tender, and so tasty, I can taste it as I type.
Marinated cuttlefish £8
There must have been times when you’ve walked by a Chinese restaurant with chickens and ducks hanging by the window, wondering what on earth those other things were. If you’d seen an orange coloured thing, looking alot like squid, that’s the marinated squid.
I’m not sure what the marinated bit refers to, but I guess that means the squid has been pre-cooked and then stewed in a sauce to give it that colour. Served slightly warm and sliced up, it doesn’t taste particularly of anything, just slightly fishy. The main reason why I like this is the texture. Chewy, and chewy.
Tau foo fah (sweet beancurd dessert) £3.50
Whilst the people around me sat back in their chairs (quite an achievement in a place as small as this) and said how full they were, I eagerly ordered dessert.
Desserts in other restaurants are just an over-indulgence, but here, it’s something of a must because I haven’t found anywhere else in Chinatown serving this. There is a cafe down the main street which does it, but it’s a cafe which turns into a restaurant during dinner time and stops serving it after.
Served chilled here (although I prefer it hot), the waitress said she could ‘ting’ it for me.
Why waste time using words like ‘microwave’ when you can just say ‘ting’.
After I said no to the ting because I wasn’t sure how the ting would affect the texture, I put the spoon into the bowl and slurped. It was a nice slurp, with smooth beancurd and sweet syrup.
Red bean iced drink £3.50
I’ve not had this drink else where before, but for those in the know, this place apparently serves the best version of this drink in Chinatown. I had a sip, and it’s basically red bean at the bottom of the glass, with ice and condensed milk at the top. Before you drink it, you’re meant to stir it completely so that the drink is evenly mixed before you have it.
Would I come back to this restaurant? Every time anyone suggests this place, I say let’s go.
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