Just round the corner from home, a few days till it closed, and a reliable recommendation, we had to get to Mei Mei's Street Cart at Wong's Happiness Diner. And quickly.
So, with the allure of braised Szechuan aubergine, we did. Very quickly. With a lovely Chinese-food connoisseur in tow.
We crept past the rather late anti-Valentine's Day event taking place downstairs in the always intriguing, ever-shabby Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, and sneaked up the stairs, our noses leading the way. A candlelight room of mismatching furniture, beer cases filled with chopsticks, napkins, and ceramic soups spoons, a bar of wooden pallets, fairy lights, a Chinese film playing silently, and a great playlist on the speakers, welcomed us.
Tsingtao for B & L and a dangerously delicious plum wine cocktail for me. Yum. Especially yum because it came in an elegant jam jar with fluorescent straws.
It's another restaurant of sharing food. My favourite. Especially when all my eyes will look at on the menu is the aubergine: putting in a cohesive order would have been difficult. I left that to the others and sipped away on my purple, plummy cocktail.
A feast arrived in dribs and drabs. Vegetable wantons, pak choi, sticky chicken wings, (I just assumed that no one was chopstick talented enough to eat these with two sticks, so fingers and stickiness it was. This is where the messy table, face, hand situation began. It only got worse from here.) sesame rice, ribs and spicy cucumber, and the aubergine.
Everything was fabulous. More than fabulous. It was delicious. We fought over the last of everything, and every plate rapidly disappeared. We barely bothered putting things politely into our own little bowls, instead just grabbing it as quickly as we could off the beautiful plates.
But the aubergine stole the show. If it hadn't come last, and I hadn't already eaten far too much, I would have ordered more. My photo doesn't do it justice. Sticky, sweet, rich, spicy, fleshy. And with a pair of fried eggs on top. Everything is better with a fried egg on top.
We refused pudding, not wanting to lose the aubergine flavour from our tastebuds. Needless to say, we left with smiling faces, begging them to stay just a few more weeks so we could return.
Lowlight: it's leaving soon. Hmph.
MeiMei's Street Cart at Wong's Happiness Diner. Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, E2 6NB.
a food journal
a food journal