I first visited Yuen Shan last year. That review can be read here.
Firstly I'll apologise for the lack of photos, I wasn't planning on writing about this place but I just had to share my experience with you.
So I'll begin.
After having peanut butter and honey on toast for lunch today and yesterdays equally healthy lunch of cheese on toast followed by half a piece of cake and a cup of tea for dinner I felt my body was crying out for some nutrition in the form of vegetables.
Bit of an odd move then, you might think, for me to then visit a Chinese restaurant but I had my heart set on braised silky aubergines and some tasty greens.
I went inside after a quick glance at the window menu. I loved it last year so presumed it couldn't have got worse.
A young waitress eating dinner noticed me and, shocked, quickly swallowed whatever it was she was eating and then rushed over to greet me. She showed me to my table. There were two other people there, pretty quiet for half six. I perused the menu.
I noticed the Mongolian lamb and remembered how delicious it was. I didn't order that though as I stopped eating meat 8 months ago.
Just in case anyone is wondering, I have been a vegetarian for most of my life. I started eating meat when I enrolled in my professional chefs course as it wouldn't really have been possible for me to learn how to cook certain dishes, by which I mean those including meat, without tasting the food. I went back to a meat free diet but I still eat fish (pescetarian / vegaquarian..call it what you wish).
Back to the review - I chose braised aubergine, sautéed tofu with seafood and boiled rice. I ordered Chinese tea to drink.
The food arrived and looked well presented: glossy pieces of aubergine in a rich dark gravy and...hold on a minute..lumps of minced meat.
I've never ever sent food back as I find it awkward and know how annoying it can be from the chefs point of view. I even contemplated picking around the meat before deciding against it.
I called the waiter over and pointed out the meat, asking the obvious - "is this meat?"
He told me that it was and when I stated that it said vegetarian on the menu he was sceptical and even brought over the menu so I then had to point out the big bold words "vegetarian" above the list of dishes, one of which being the one I had chosen.
He quickly apologized and went back to the kitchen with the aubergine. My tofu dish arrived and I couldn't help but wonder who ate my food and then threw it back up onto my plate. Harsh, I know but this had to taste better than it looked...surely!!
Tough contest, I declared it a tie. The tofu had the consistency of no other tofu I've had before - similar to a wet squidgy marshmallow. There were chunks of carrots that had blatently gone off, overcooked squid and something not unlike a crab-stick. The whole thing was covered in a slippery, gooey, raw egg like sauce.
I'm not exaggerating at all. I have a strong stomach but this was way too much even for me. I couldn't physically eat any more.
The aubergine arrived with no rich dark sauce but it was instead accompanied by a pool of soy sauce and oil. I struggled to eat a couple of pieces. I had this dish many times in china, a few of those in seriously dodgy places but the grease slowly coated my entire mouth and lips and this combined with the traumatic tofu dish was too much for my stomach and I had to stop there.
I'd eaten six mouthfuls but already I felt heavy. I went to the counter, reluctantly paid my £13.70 bill and left the restaurant as quickly as I could.
The waiter even had the cheek to follow me outside and tell me I hadn't paid him enough before realising his mistake - again.
I buy a bounty from across the road, partly to remove the lingering nasty taste and partly for the nourishment the meal failed to provide. After all it has coconut and that's good for you, right?
I cycled past Pho 68 and look in the window. It's almost full and I couldn't help envying the happy looking diners.
On the positive side, they say you learn something new every day. Today I learnt that just because there is a vegetarian section on a menu in a Chinese restaurant, this doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't contain lumps of meat. Oh and I also learnt never to eat there again.
Thanks for reading.