Welcome to another weekend Kitchen Chat.
It is Friday night. What are you doing? A big plan ahead for the weekend? Normally if we were in Sydney, we will be out and about in King Street, Newtown with friends to a pub for PDD (Pre Dinner Drink), then dinner at a Thai restaurant, and after that, if we are still up to it, to The Imperial Hotel. The night goes on. It doesn’t sleep. Those were the days. Like my friend, Steven Cumper, said to us every time we booked a table at his restaurant, Red Velvet Lounge. He would say, “Guys, you are becoming a local”. We will go and eat at 6:30pm and leave before 8pm to go home. It is an early night, on a Friday or Saturday night. Guess age is catching up.
I am listening to a Leonard Cohen’s CD, Ten New Songs, that my partner recently bought. Well, Leonard Cohen is his latest favourite. Almost every night I have to listen to his music. No choice. The house is too small. I cannot retreat to a quiet corner. But I really don’t mind. I quite enjoy the songs. His music is calm and relax. If I close my eyes with a glass of wine with the lights dimmed, I will be transported to a music lounge somewhere in Canada.
Earlier this morning on our way to work, my partner asked me to buy some takeaway from our favourite Indian restaurant, The Taj Palace. I called from my office. Ordered a Garlic Nann bread, Himalayan Chicken and Punjabi Dhal. All for $17 only. I got there an hour early so I can have lunch somewhere. I thought I will try The Vegetarian Hut, next door to Taj Palace. It is a Thai vegetarian place, opened a few months ago. I have walked passed many times at lunch time, and it is usually very quiet with one or two customer. But, I decided to try it this time, while waiting for my dinner takewaway.
I ordered a Spicy Noodle. The interior is nice, with a small water fountain trickling away with soft Thai music in the background. The furniture is dark with timber flooring. It is a nice, cosy environment. There are 2 women working. They both serve and cook. Thai people are really charming and sweet, with great smile. Their English has a nice melody of Thai accent. I love Thai food and Thai people, the culture and frequently visit the country.
After my meal at The Vegetarian Hut for $12 – flat white noodle (Hor Fun) with bok choy, a bit of fried diced tofu, and mock meat, I went to see Harry to pick my dinner takeaway.
I told Harry I just came from my lunch next door, pointing towards the other place from his takeaway window. He and his wife looked at me. Then asked, “How was it?”. I paused and not sure how to answer his question. Before I could answer him, he asked “Will you go back again?”.
I replied, “No”.
“The tofu and mock meat were not fresh. They were too dry. Probably fried a few times. Hard and flavourless, ” I said.
The owner/cook actually asked me what I thought about her food. I told her that it was okay. She laughed and was not happy, and said to me, “Just Okay?”
Unfortunately, I had to say, “Yes..” and continue to say “..you asked”.
Now before I continue on. Will you actually tell the truth to the chef or owner if you were asked what you thought about the food you just ate??? I think most customers will be diplomatic and politely answer, “Yes”. However, I have been there as a chef, and I would personally prefer to know the truth so I can improve. But, unfortunately and sad to say, the woman did not take my response too well. I think she expected to hear that I really enjoy the food. There is nothing wrong with her cooking. Oh, she did say that she cooked the Spicy Noodle. And, I told her that I know. The taste was good and spicy as it should be. But, unfortunately the fried tofu and mock meat were too dry, chewy and tough. I don’t believe they are fresh and would have been fried a few times.
Her response, unfortunately, I thought was a bit defensive. So, I thought to myself she should not have asked in the first place. i would have kept quiet. But, she said the tofu was dried because of the supplier. Lately, they have not been delivering fresh tofu. I reassured her that her cooking was fine, and the noodle was perfectly cooked.
The $12 noodle for vegetarian with flat white noodle, bok choy and a bit of overly dried tofu and mock meat was expensive compare to Harry’s takeaway, freshly cooked for my dinner at $17.
I hope The Vegetarian Hut will survive in the busy North Hobart eating street with so many eating choices. A vegetarian dish is not that difficult to cook. The focus is on the freshness of the vegetables and mock meats.