I travelled 4000km to discover that the Empress of China was seriously hot and spicy (to quote the hotel’s marketing material)…
After declining the offer to replace chopsticks with cutlery (force of habit) I remembered I was dining on my own. No problem. I placed an order of varied dishes preceded by a glass of Grover’s Vineyard India Blanc de Blanc, intent on trying some local produce. Ten minutes later a waiter came over to ask if I was ready to look at/order the main course yet. First look of horror: what was the appetiser banquet I’d just ordered then? First waiter to the rescue: full order already taken. Phew.
A side dish of fried lettuce was placed on the table, in preparation for the forthcoming starter I thought. Five minutes later and the untouched side dish went. Good job I was enjoying my book really.
Had the most delicious deep fried fish fillets in batter with a hot n’ sweet chilli sauce for starter – too big to provoke any argument from the chopsticks too. For main course, I chose a bucket of garlic fried rice and a barrel of braised mushrooms and asparagus in hot ginger chilli sauce with another glass of India’s finest. When asked if I’d like yet another glass, I couldn’t quite get my lips around “D’ya-think-I’m-an-alkie?-If-I’d-wanted-a-litre-of-wine-to-myself-I’d-have-ordered-a bottle, -wouldn’t -I?” so I opted for “yes please”.
Secretly pleased that I’d managed not to eat the huge quantity of food in front of me, I joked with the waiter, “there’s a meal for four here”. “No, only two” he replied, “minimum portion served is for two persons”.
Second look of horror slightly eased by the 3 grains of rice remaining in the bottom of the barrel.
I thought I might offend the local hospitality if I declined to look at the dessert menu. Not so. The third look of horror was the waiter’s. I didn’t order a dessert after all but favoured martyrdom*.
*martyrdom consists of eating pastries saved since breakfast in the solitude of your room.