A few weeks ago, me and two of my friends had dinner at My Old Street, a Chinese restaurant that, judging from the online reviews offers great value food, with no frills when it comes to the service.
And indeed, this was precisely our impressions of the place. We ordered a big bowl of soup, shredded potatoes and chilli chicken with a side helping of greens, pictured below:
The soup was a wonderfully filling, moreish concoction, and walked the line between tastily spicy and tongue-burningly hot. The plate of greens was enough to share between the three of us and bought some much-needed vitamin B to the meal. The potatoes supplied the carbs, but their sliced layout meant that you consumed less overall calories than if you ate whole potatoes. And the slices of crispy onion embedded in the chicken dish was inspired, really bringing out its well-seasoned, savoury flavour.
The interior of the restaurant isn’t particularly stylish, instead deferring to the tried-and-tested canteen layout that is common in many restaurants in mainland China. The waitresses were efficient but not particularly friendly, their iciness bordering on curt.
For diners who are used to service with a smile, this brand of sangfroid might not be to their liking, but on the plus side, My Old Place do not charge the usual 12.5% tip that most London restaurants help themselves to (and don’t deserve). Furthermore, if you prepare yourself for the fact that the waiters and waitresses are there purely to take your order and not to pretend to be your best friend, then their nondescript approach doesn’t come across as such a shock.
We split the bill three ways, meaning each of us paid only £16.24 for the vast quantity of delicious and authentic Sichuan food that left us thoroughly full. No tip was left, but the restaurant didn’t ask for one. And truth be told, that’s how I like it: I’d rather not pay for a tip, and use my money to spend on all the nom instead.