As the excitement from Freshers' Week fades and the reality of your deadlines sinks in, you might be craving some home comforts to soothe the pangs of homesickness. If you’re Chinese, this guide will help you find just that. If you’re not, you might find some discovery sites of Chinese culinary interest.
Where to Dine Out
Conveniently located across from the Garage, this quaint establishment offers tacky music on a whole other dimension. The ambience can only be described as “your mum’s party playlist before she discovered 10 Hours of Relaxing Music for Sleep and Meditation”. Although best for treating your entire extended family, Loon Fung is also frequented by students who resentfully find themselves brunching with their friends the way they remember their moms brunching with their high school friends. Despite all this, they can’t stay away from the perfectly cooked dim sum any more than I can. To find your Cantonese afternoon tea essentials, head to 417-419 Sauchiehall Street.
It’s cheap. If you’re aiming for affordable, here you go. No point in beating around the bush. That’s its main selling point. Angie’s Cafe offers cheap, simple, practical meals in authentic Hong Kong “Cha Chaan Teng” style. The portions are big but that does not mean they compromise on taste. Inhabiting a street corner behind St Enoch Shopping Centre, Angie’s Cafe might not be the most accessible for students in the West End, but if you are already in town the mouth-watering stir fry dishes are well worth seeking out. For some uncomplicated deli food, look for 82 Howard Street.
As much as Cantonese food is celebrated, it is about as representative of Chinese cuisine as Crazy Rich Asians is of Asians. Known for its fusion cuisine, Little Canteen is a usual haunt for Chinese students in the West End. For those of you who can’t live without spicy food, Little Canteen offers a little something to spice up your lives. You have to fish their grilled fish out from under the layers of dried chilli, but when you do, the tingling buzz on your tongue from the Szechuan peppercorn will more than make up for the labour. Their Dan Dan noodle practically swims in chilli oil. The red oil you see in your bowl goes very well indeed with the kitsch communist decor. It’s no coincidence that the rice dishes often remind me of the filling canteen food you’d get in mainland China. Probably also owing to the factory/school canteen tradition, the menu is quite loner-friendly, unlike most other chinese restaurants. One thing to note though, this brightly lit and spotless ‘canteen’ is as its name suggests, not very spacious. But if you avoid the peak hour, you just might find yourself a nice little table. Find the Little Canteen at 1164 Argyle Street.
For the Sichuan cuisine fundamentalists, this is a must visit. However, as you will find out soon enough, the Sichuan House is on the less affordable side out of all the restaurants on this list. That is to say, it’s more ‘proper restaurant’ than takeaway. This being a Chinese restaurant (think greasy food and unpredictable service), it’s probably not ideal for a romantic first date. Still, I would say it’s competitive enough for the fourth to sixth date phase. Although half the menu looks covered in chilli and/or chilli oil, there are usually even more spices than meet the eye. The result is a fiery but nuanced (in a good, sophisticated way) experience that lingers in your memory. For the best Sichuan cuisine this side of Chengdu, find your way to 345-349 Sauchiehall Street.
Jay’s Grill Bar
This hotpot-slash-Korean barbecue joint gives you access to unlimited amount of meat and vegetables for £22.99 per person (price varies depending on the time of the week). Strictly reserved for the start of the month, I would only go in with a dutifully emptied out stomach. There’s no getting around coming out feeling like you’ve sold several vital organs to the owner only to replace them with succulent slices of meat. You’ll get to mix your own sauces, and choose any combination of ingredients to spread on the grill. The staff is friendly and helpful. If only they weren’t, then I could at least have a reason to boycott them and stop spending money I don’t have. For a delicious way to go bankrupt, try 141 Elderslie Street.
Where to Shop
This small grocery store will satisfy most of your cravings for Luosifen (“snail rice noodle”) and Chinese snacks. There are also various imports from Japan and Korea for you to choose from, so really there’s no avoiding iMart if your stomach started feeling particularly Oriental. You will find a bountiful supply of frozen dumplings, buns, and dried noodles here. These are pretty much all you would need for some easy-to-make Chinese student meals anyway. Find iMart Oriental at 217 Hope Street.
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