Category: Chinese and other Asian
Matt and Cat are big lovers of sci-fi. Matt, who fancies himself as a writer and a scientist, combines those two interests in a bookshelf chock full o' the works of Asimov, Heinlein and Iain M Banks.
Cat prefers to have her sci-fi injected straight into her eyeballs. In the 1980s, when her hair was as vast as Arnie's biceps, she loved staring glassy-eyed at the Austrian Oak's portrayal of The Running Man, or his seamless depiction of both Douglas Quaid and Hauser in Total Recall, adapted from Philip K Dick's 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale'.
The ultimate eighties Dick adaptation has to be the story set in a world where genetically-engineered organic robots, indistinguishable from humans, wither and die atop a decaying building. No, not a documentary about County Hall, but Ridley Scott's Bladerunner. Mindful of this dystopian vision of a rainy neon future, M&C went with a pal to Newport's Noodle Pot.
Matt and Cat are fans of the Hong Kong Express chain of Chinese restaurants.
Starting in Ryde, the brand spread westwards to Newport and Freshwater. Each new venue provided fast, fresh Chinese food in the distinctive Hong Kong Express style. Perhaps not the first choice for an intimate romantic tryst - say - but if you want to eat well in short order then it's hard to beat.
One thing M&C have noticed is that as it gets slicker, Hong Kong Express has got just a little bit more impersonal. At one time it was possible not only to get that great Chinese nosh, but also for the friendly staff to greet you, seat you and even sometimes remember what you ordered last time. These days, sometimes it does feel a little like being on the production line (although some restaurants use conveyor belts to good effect!) . But hey, the food's still good. So it was with some excitement that Matt discovered from co-workers in his office that the Hong Kong Express bandwagon was still on the move, with the opening of a mobile catering unit at Vectawarm on the Dodnor industrial estate, right near Matt's workplace. A lunchtime excursion was clearly in order.
Lake: the village that's in the way of other more interesting places.
If you've passed through Lake you may have been too distracted by its architectural hotchpotch to notice the disproportionate number of eateries - particularly takeways. Indian, chippy and Chinese restaurants all vie for attention on Lake's short strip. Obviously deciding that the market isn't quite saturated, summer 2011 saw the opening of Asia Fusion.
Nostalgia buffs may mourn the loss of gentlemen's outfitters 'Man About Lake' and its sister shop 'Lady of Lake'. There may be some readers who also remember when Lake had enough working men to warrant the magnificence of Lake Working Men's Club. This spectacular construction, built in a 1970s brutalist style, looms triumphant at the rise of Sandown Road. Affiliated with the CIU (Club and Institute Union), it was the setting for many a wedding reception, darts match and meat raffle. Having sat forlornly vacant for a considerable time, the lights are again glittering as Asia Fusion has breathed life into this monolithic landmark.
As soon as its doors were opened, Asia Fusion prompted comment on Matt and Cat's Facebook page, including some quite negative feedback. M&C try not to be swayed by others' opinions and, keeping their collective mind open, they ventured to the Asia Fusion with some friends in tow. Would they concur with the naysayers?
Returning from a trip to The Other Side, Matt and Cat were on the hunt for a quick take-out to eat at home. Right under their noses was Jade Garden, the Chinese takeaway in East Cowes that everyone is obliged to pass when leaving the Red Funnel car ferry. It seemed rude not to stop, so your reviewers pulled up to see if Jade Garden was any good.
Matt and Cat had heard from trend-setters in East Cowes that the Jade Garden was the place to go for Chinese. It's a classic small urban takeaway, although its kitchen seemed to go back a long way. M & C, accompanied by junior reviewer Bill, perused what proved to be a standard Chinese menu, and if the date on the front (2005) is correct, some of the longest-held prices on the Island too. Cat was surprised and interested by one section which promised fillet steak dishes - although on enquiry the jolly chap behind the counter had to confess that they'd stopped serving it 'ages ago' - perhaps fillet steak was too rich a dish for East Cowes to handle.
Before long the trio had selected what turned out to be an echo of their favourite order from the Hong Kong Express. Cat chose chicken chow mein, Matt had crispy fried shredded beef, and Bill went for sweet and sour pork Hong Kong style. A bag of prawn crackers and a side-order of mixed veg rounded the meal off, and in a trice, the hot bundle was back on board the car with the hungry voyagers, and swiftly transferred to Ryde where it was decanted onto plates for immediate consumption.
Having fortified themselves with the most delicate and sumptuous Robert Thompson canapés, plus the ever-scrummy Isle of Wight cheese and Garlic Farm tasties at the WightLife photography competition exhibition, Matt and Cat stumbled out into the dark streets of Newport. Did the grazing satisfy or could the duo go another round? On Cat's gentle enquiry, Matt beat his manly chest and bellowed "more nammit!".
Encouraged by a friend to try the new pizza parlour in St James Street, they headed west. Alas, on arriving at Turner's, they were disappointed to discover that it was take-out only. Tempting as it was to have a pizza to go, the nearest place to sit and eat it would be the bus station. A pleasant enough place during the day - if you can ignore its anachronistic architecture - in fact, quite a functional interchange. However, at night, it takes on a different character as Cat discovered recently. Soggy children sit wedged in the library's niches out of their gourds on cheap hooch. Harmless to passers by but not really a desirable place for dinner. Matt and Cat moved on.