Being back in Chinatown always brings up memories of my arrival in London. As an impoverished and rather clueless student in my first extended time away from home, Chinatown seemed to beckon as a beacon of hope and familiarity in this alien city of London. It had all the comforts of the familiar seemingly nestled among neon lights, Canto pop tunes and foul language (listen to a translation of what the waiters are saying in Cantonese and you will understand).
Now, having grown a bit older and perhaps wiser, I know that Chinatown is where the tourist, clueless or desperate choose to eat. There are far better places to empty your wallet for Chinese food than next to busy Leicester Square. In such a prime location, the food seems overpriced, over-salted and unfortunately over here. Yet, although, I might often in my present day self stick my nose up at such plebeian foods, sometimes convenience wins out over discernment. So this was how we ended up at C&R, which has grown from a small cafe in my student days to a sprawling multistory establishment today. The price seems to have bumped up maybe 50% too but then again, that’s the way with inflation these days. I still remember when tube tickets were just GBP1.
Nasi Lemak, rice cooked in coconut milk with sambal chilli, anchovies, achar, chicken curry, peanuts, cucumber and egg. The rice was the stand out bit and there was plenty of it. The sambal chilli and anchovies, a taste of home, the chicken curry decent, if a bit bony, the peanuts and eggs nothing to write home about. Despite my protestations, this was not bad, although I could have done with more of everything, except for the rice.
Wat Tan Ho, Cantonese style char kway teow, broad rice noodles fried with king prawn, fish cakes, squid, fish balls, pork, vegetables and egg gravy on top. Sadly a bit bland and the noodles, which could have been so much more, drowned in the sauce. Although in all fairness that is how they are supposed to be presented, so perhaps I am just being unfairly critical as usual. Good thing that I was with someone else who had far greater appreciation of such delicacies than I.
As a no frills joint, in the middle of central London, you can’t really ask for more than comfort food at an affordable price. In the new year, we can all do with a bit of the familiar and this certainly delivered on that front. The food was a throwback to my temporal and physical past. The price at a fairly pocket friendly level. The music, kind of the same as a decade ago but then again, instead of being called out of date, it is old enough to become nostalgic. In this new day and age, you can’t really ask for more than that in the new year.
A quiet eating 6.5/10.
Lunch (1 course) was GBP8.50 excluding drinks and service.
4-5 Rupert Court