As of right now, I officially give up trying to get a decent Chinese meal in Warsaw!
I love Chinese food and when living in London was spoilt for choice for places to go for an excellent Chinese meal. For some reason, I know not why, it has proved impossible to replicate that experience over here. If you do manage to find a Chinese restaurant the menu is quite different to the UK, the taste is certainly very different and they have a tendency to over complicate things. In the UK if you order, for example, lemon chicken, that’s all you get is a plate with lemon chicken on it and you order the rice, noodles, veg separately. Here you’ll get a plate so full of stuff it’s hard to find the chicken. This is annoying because part of the whole Chinese experience is to order a bunch of different dishes and tuck in to a varied feast. If you do that here you end up with enough food to feed the whole district. As for trying to find what I used to call “crispy pancake duck”, forget about it!
So, it was with a sense of building excitement that we ventured out today to try a large Chinese restaurant on the road between Warsaw and Konstancin called “Mandarin” that has widely publicised itself as being the best Chinese in Warsaw, even with proper imported chefs!
You can see from the side view that this was built as a house and some enterprising restaurateur has slapped a Chinese façade on it and opened for business. Not sure I’d want to live in that house behind it!
Anyway, with a Maserati parked outside the restaurant looked promising but it was to prove a major anti-climax, apart from the price, which was Maserati style. It’s a funny place in a strange location although perhaps in some ways clever because it is almost half way between Warsaw and Konstancin so although neither group have easy access it is a shortish drive from both. It was very busy when we arrived at around 15:00 today but we managed to find a table upstairs. The menu looked good and might even have had the crispy pancake duck (if that was what they called “Beijing duck”) but at 159 PLN we decided not to bother trying. We ordered various starters, a wonton soup and a couple of main dishes with fried rice and noodles.
First off it took an age to get served but it was fun listening to all the complaints around us from other tables, one of whom decided after half an hour and three different tables to resign and leave. The starters were good, crispy prawns a little tasteless and therefore not worth the 32 zlots but the dim sum and spring rolls were fine. The soup, which we asked to come with the starters arrived with the main course and was a bit wishy-washy. The noodles turned out to be a dish the size of Latvia of which 20% was noodles and the rest was huge chunks of vegetables and scrambled egg. The rice arrived a few minutes after everything else and was plain white rice instead of the fried rice we ordered. The duck “Chinese style” was the usual naff duck breast and so it was only the thin slices of pork in a doodah-whatsit sauce that deserved any real attention. We skipped desert but ordered coffee, which arrived cold.
The average food and poor service were bad enough but when they came with a bill of 310 zlots I nearly fell off my chair. That’s $108, 70 GBP and €75 in hard currency. Not worth half of that my friends! Cross this place off the list, cross Chinese food off the list. Damn! Damn! Damn! When is someone going to get this right?
On the way home we decided to wiggle our way round the back streets between the main road and the river. As usual when we do this we end up passing the electricity/heating plant “Siekierki”, always a wondrous sight. Apparently, Marta had a school trip to this place when she was a lass, I wouldn’t mind having a tour myself.
We then went on a hunt for Czerniakowskie lake, a stump of water that was possibly at one time a part of a wider Wisła until it silted up and ended up stranded inland. We found it.
As you can see, it’s not a lonely and unloved place. With a small beach, boats, fishing huts and swans to feed it was a hive of activity and is apparently a pretty popular destination in good weather, as we had today. Funniest thing was that just as Marta had finished telling me how they often had trouble with the water quality here when a little girl wandered over waving something slippery and shouting “Look Dad, I found a dead fish!”. As if to prove how popular it is, someone even went to the trouble of painting a lot of rules on the side of a derelict building!
We had a little walkabout and then, after a fruitless hunt for a “Port Czerniakowskie”, we headed home. Not before I managed to catch the reflection of the chimneys in the lake though.