WHEN your trousers start to get a bit nippit round the waist you have two choices … buy bigger breeks or watch what you eat.
So that’s me back on being careful what – and how much – I shovel down my neck.
But if you’re a foody needing a flavour hit, where do you turn? Well, in my previous goody-two-shoes phase I found Chinese delivered taste without being too heavy on the calories.
So when Mrs B and I were out for a bit of shopping and fancied a bite, China Town looked like a grand choice as we ambled back to the car.
It’s a welcoming place, even early on a midweek night, with decor that seems to flit between trad Chinese restaurant and swanky cocktail bar (not that I was in the market for cocktails. Have you seen the calories in those!).
Now, as it was a bit parky outside we needed a bit of a warmer. Which meant our starter choice was a no-brainer – warming soup all round. Szechuan for Mrs B and Tom Yung Gung for me.
The Szechuan certainly delivered on the hot and sour front, a huge chilli kick up front followed swiftly by a vinegar tang. It was also thick enough to stand a porcelain spoon in, full of ham, pork, egg and prawns (I got those because Mrs B doesn’t like them).
It hit the spot as did my Thai dish. A light tomato based broth that carried the requisite touches of lime and fish sauce. The mushrooms were perfect as were the three king prawns lolling in the dish. However, it lacked that huge “wowser” fiery bite I’ve come to expect from tom yum.
Still, that didn’t stop me from carrying on my Thai theme with my main course.
I was drawn by the Thai chilli beef, billed as an “extremely spicy stir fry.”
As an old hand at the low cal, high flavour game I know that minimal oil in a hot wok with lean beef and loads of veg means you can beast into a big dish and come out without paying the price of a half hour run to burn it all off at some point.
That was the theory.
The reality was that my Thai beef arrived swimming in a coconut milk-based sauce, not billed on the menu. Fine for taste, not so great if you are watching your waistline.
Except it wasn’t that outstanding for taste either. Again, the huge spice attack was absent.
A gentle glow as opposed to a reach-for-the-water tastebud kicking.
And there was barely a hint of lemon grass or holy basil, as I had sort of hoped for with a Thai stir fry.
On the plus side, the beef was about as tender as you could possibly ask, while the shredded veg added texture. It was tasty enough, just not what I was expecting on a few counts.
I had stepped out with a pad thai side and the noodly mixture did add bullk, but again, not too much on the flavour front. Although I did appreciate the king prawns, again.
Mrs B, meanwhile, was working her way through a Tsing Tao chicken.
Tender chunks of chicken, with plenty of baby corn, mushroom, celery and onion made it a hearty dish. The Tsing Tao sauce, using the famous Chinese brew, carried a pleasant sweet first touch then a wee bit of bitterness as befits its beery origins. The fluffy white rice was a perfect accompaniment.
Overall this was a meal that didn’t play out as we expected but was pleasing nonetheless.