Let's Cook with Meg and Ted


Jasmine - this restaurant has the misfortune to be located beside one of the unsightly crop of Time restaurants springing up around town, and on the first night we ate here, there were far fewer people in Jasmine than next door. Well, it was their loss - but let's just hope that Jasmine, and other individualistic, non-chain restaurants like it, can survive despite the herd-like behaviour of braindead chainstore patrons. Because, unlike the tastess pap served at Time, the food at Jasmine actually tastes of its ingredients. I'm not saying that the food here is haute cuisine or something to travel across the country for, but when you eat a mouthful of something they serve, you can generally identify individual spices, differently combined in each dish, which is a pleasant change from the standard reddish, sweetish, mucilaginous all-purpose sauce used in a lot of places (gee, why would you think I was refering to Time?). Anyway, let's stop thinking about bad food and start talking about the good food here. Entrees: the salt and pepper aubergine is excellent, cooked just to the right degree, not too salty, and served with a visually gorgeous spill of thickly sliced red and green chillies - delicious. I also like the vegetarian hot and sour soup, which is very tasty and lives up to its name, and contains tofu and a nice range of vegetables. The szechuan tofu and vegetables are well cooked, and in a sauce which I would rather be slightly hotter, but is still pleasant and spicy. The only dish I was not thrilled with was the Monk's vegetables, which were fine, but nothing exceptional. I should say however that I do have unreasonable expectations for this dish, since the first time I had it, in a rather posh Chinese restaurant in London, it was fantastic, stuffed with half a dozen different kinds of fresh and dried mushroom and with a subtle but interesting sauce, and I shouldn't expect the average non-capital city restaurant to live up to that, I guess. Finally, the servings of rice are huge, which is a nice change, and the service is very good. I will definitely be returning here, to try the salt and pepper tofu, vegetables in black bean sauce, and other things from the large vegetarian section on the menu. Highly recommended. Preston St, Brighton. (September 2003)

Great Wall - This restaurant is in a cursed location - I've seen three Chinese restaurants open and shut down here just in the last two and a half years. I'm hoping that Great Wall breaks the curse, because the food is good, but both times we've been here there has only been one other table occupied. Get there, people! They have a big menu of more or less standard westernised Chinese dishes, but are good about making something that's not on it if you ask - Ted gets them to feed his salt and pepper aubergine fetish, and they do it well. More interestingly, there's also a smaller menu which offers more traditional dishes - braised fish head, deep fried morning glory, various ways with eel. Be careful of this menu if you're a vegetarian (the 'vegetarian' stuffed bean curd hotpot was garnished with chopped prawns), but if you're a meat-eater it would be fantastic. The waitresses are lovely. They also do takeaway. 111 Western Rd, Brighton. 01273 727273. Open 12 noon - 11.30 pm, 7 days. Cash only, no cards. (December 2003)

Golden Palace - My favourite dish here so far is the szechuan aubergine, which is spicy and a little sweet. The cha-cha vegetables with bean curd should be nice, but tastes a bit strongly of cornflour. The hot and sour vegetable soup is black and sharp and glutinous with shredded tofu (which I quite like); the rainbow soup is very mild. 9 Western Rd Hove. 01273 722090. (July 2002)

China Hut - For super-fast, cheap, good but no-frills Chinese food. Sit outside if you can get one of the tables, and drink a beer while eating your food off a bright red plastic plate and watching the passersby. King-po vegetables with cashews, and bean curd and vegetables in black bean sauce are both good. The staff are very friendly. Church Rd, Hove. (August 2002)

China Hins - meh. More overly-sweet sauces, tomatoey non-spicy szechuan, etc. Church Rd Hove. 01273 329888. (February 2002)

Time - go here if you hate the though that food might involve pleasure. Spices? What are spices? I try not to think about the fact that the wonderful Sun Bo Seng closed down to be replaced by one of these MacDonalds equivalents. There are two on East St, one on Preston St, another on Church Rd. This chain is a spreading canker and I hope someone brings in the herbicide soon. (September 2003)

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