No more Czech-Chinese takeaway

After checking out pretty much everything my ‘hood has to offer for a midday meal, I came to realise that Cerny Most sucks ass come lunchtime. There are a few places that offer lunch specials – soup, a main course, and sometimes a drink or desert for less than CZK 100 – a couple of these are Italian, a couple of them Czech. Jitka and I were about to splurge at Violeta, an Italian place that we consider the lesser of the evils here, though it doesn’t have any specials, but slackjawed sloth-like waitstaff and the glass-shaking, nerve-grating howls of a furious infant drove us out of there. (New parents take note: taking your infant offspring to a restaurant is terribly inconsiderate – not only to your fellow diners, but to the baby that’s got to breathe in all the smoke in the place. Those of you who do this should smarten the fuck up and get the kid a sitter).

I would have been more than happy with a falafel sandwich and a plate of baba ganoush (or ganuz? ganus?) in the Blackbridge mall, but our last visit there had left both of us with some pretty nasty indigestion, which was still fresh in Jitka’s memory. So we settled on fast cheap “Chinese” takeaway from Zlaty Orel (Golden Eagle), situated in the mall’s food court.

The best thing about the meal was the rice. Jitka and I joked about the origins of the meat chunks in my “eight treasures”, settling on rat, pigeon, and hedgehog, though it seemed plausible that the place had a very sinister deal going on with the mall’s new petshop. Obvious jokes, sure, but I wasn’t cracking wise when, about a third of the way into my meal, I bit into a chunk that had a taste that immediately brought pigeon – or something worse – to mind. The flavour was absolutely skank-nasty, like something that had just been scraped off a traffic-stained road, plucked out of a piss-filled gutter, or yanked out of a diseased harlot’s crotch.

“Goddamn… sonofa… fu… that is it!,” I said, rubbing my gut with one hand and waving the other hand about angrily, “it’s official! This is the last time I ever pay good money, let alone eat, this cheapass ‘Czechese’ shit again!”

It was not without a little bit of sadness that I made this declaration, but for all the pleasant experiences I’ve had at these places there have been too many manky MSG highs (yesterday’s meal brutally KO’d me), meats of dubious origin, and oceans of grease to give them a second chance. I’ll splash out on the real thing, but not this rubbish that the proprietors of these culinary cesspits have the nerve to serve to a public that really should know better. I’ll take my chances with the Colonel or Ronnie Mac-Dee instead, thank you very much. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a couple of frozen pizzas to heat up.

Nov 9, 11:33 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

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  1. I gotta tell you, in my time here I’ve found two decent Cinsky joints – Harmonie down in Zizkov and Hui Bin Ge across from the Don Giovanni on Vinohradska. Oddly, the food at the banquet joint at IP Pavlova I found rather dull.

    Mind you, these are neither of them in C. Most and aren’t quick takeaway. Karl refuses to eat Chinese in this town, having heard some health inspector horror stories. I keep myself to proper sit-down places with upholstered chairs. If it’s labeled Cinsky bistro, I keep walking.

    The latest place you’ve, um, discovered sounds like horrorshow waiting to happen.
    Bishop    Nov 9, 13:39    #
  2. When you say decent, do you mean just above adequate or “party-in-the-mouth” delicious? Seriously, I would love to have some proper Chinese food here, but the last time I gave a sit-down place a try (somewhere near the Bohemians football stadium in Vrsovice) the food was an expensive let-down.

    Last night our friend Maria told us that one Oriental eatery (not sure if it was a restaurant or a bistro) actually served her and her friends deep-fried bones, trying to pass them off as chicken wings. She had no idea what kind of bones they were…

    The health inspector horror stories don’t just stop at the Oriental eateries. For instance, a couple of Czech supermarkets, Hypermarket and Julius Meinl I believe, got some undesirable media attention recently – one Hypermarket for mice among the foodstuffs and one Meinl for selling expired cold cuts and cheeses.

    Illuminating the obvious: you get scandals and health violations all over the world. The CR (especially Prague) has come a long way in a very short time in terms of what it offers to consumers in its restaurants and supermarkets, and the good really outweighs the bad. But there are times when I just want to bitchslap these throwback managers and service staff for their greedy, lazy and just plain ignorant way of dealing with the public.
    Patrick    Nov 9, 15:22    #
  3. Hear, hear.
    Alas there is no “party-in-the-mouth delicious” Chi food in prague. Harmonie’s very good, but not shoutworthy. Ditto for Bin Ge.

    You’ve seen enough of the world to know such things will be longer in coming here. I spent 15 years in SF/Oakland where even ‘decent’ level chinese food just doesn’t last, because there’s so much better to be had.

    I’d heard about the Meinl issue, but not the Hypermarket, but not suffered their hygiene or lack thereof first hand.

    Deep-fried bones. Jeebus.
    Bishop    Nov 9, 16:14    #
  4. “nerve-grating howls of a furious infant”

    how about the nerve-grating howls of drunk expats at 4 in the morning in the Tulip/Royal Cafe/U Zpevacku neighborhood?
    jane    Nov 10, 08:27    #
  5. You’ve got a point Jane. But at least you can gob or dump water on the ignorant louts and bimbos. You can’t really do that to an infant now, can you?
    Patrick    Nov 10, 20:24    #
  6. gob? but water can help, depends on the baby.
    from today’s NY Times…..

    “Doctors cheerfully define colic as more than three hours of “unexplained crying” three times a week in an otherwise healthy infant. It affects anywhere from 10 percent to half of all babies in the first three months, and leaves glassy-eyed parents ready to try almost anything.

    “You would boil pork rinds if someone told you it worked,” said Felina Rakowski-Gallagher, a mother of two whose Manhattan boutique, the Upper Breast Side, caters to nursing mothers and serves as a hot spot for rumors of remedies at the front lines of baby care. ”

    So for us glassy eyed parents a full nights sleep is a precious thing. Try to keep the volume down next time you are in the neighborhood. k?
    jane    Nov 11, 06:48    #
  7. Um, I think you missed the point regarding the spit (“gob”) or water. Read my comment again and remember it the next time a pack of drunken expats is getting vocal under your window. k?

    I’m not the hollering type when I’m loaded. And in my nine-plus years of living here, I believe that the locals are far worse when it comes to drunkenly howling at the moon in the wee hours – especially when their hockey players have won a world championship. And don’t get me started on New Year’s Eve in the Czech Republic (more like New Year’s Fortnight).

    Re. infants – my point is, you glassy-eyed parents shouldn’t be taking infants to restaurants, let alone pubs. That reminds me of something else – I’m stunned that there are still Czech parents who leave their babies in prams outside of pubs while they knock a few back inside. People like that should not be breeding.
    Patrick    Nov 11, 08:24    #
  8. Okay – I’m with you regarding leaving the pram outside the hospoda. That’s kinda really sick.

    And bad parenting to boot.

    OTOH, I think there’s something very nice about living in a major city where parents know that if they leave the pram outside a very small store, the pram and the baby (and the bag of groceries) will still be there once the photos are paid for and the processor has been wished a good afternoon.
    Bishop    Nov 11, 10:31    #
  9. I dig what you’re saying Joey, but even the prams outside the shops seem a bit odd to me. No way I’d do it.
    Patrick    Nov 11, 10:55    #
  10. I could never leave my child in a pram outside a shop, nor can I take my eyes off her when she’s playing in the park. I thinks it’s sad that we need to worry so much.

    About bringing your child to a pub – before I had one I would have said no way. Now I think differently. Although I do agree that a crying or screaming child should be promptly removed but it is a good way to teach your child how to behave in a public place.

    About the drunks, I’ve been living in this neighborhood for about 8 years. I rarely hear drunk Czechs. If I do, it’s usually on Friday nights before 11pm and that’s fine by me. I don’t begrudge a good time. Championships and New Years is fine too.

    I’m talking about the middle of the week, 2, 4 and 6am folks. The problem being that the sound just echos off the buildings so regular talk is audible inside most apartments.
    jane    Nov 11, 13:50    #
  11. You’ve got to be joking – with all due respect, I think that taking a child to a pub is downright ignorant, and disrespectful to the child. Think about how bloody boring it must be for a kid to sit around sipping soda pop watching his folks tie one on with their mates. And then there’s the smoke issue…

    I was recently in a local pub with my fiancee (who is Czech) watching a father punching buttons on a fruit machine, chain smoking and swilling beer, while his two elementary-school aged daughters ran riot around the joint. He eventually played a game of darts with them, which they were obviously not into. Why do people like this have kids? Maybe all these tantrum rock bands (Linkin Park, Good Charlotte and their ilk) really aren’t just cashing in on the teen angst that results from such shitty parenting, maybe they really are the voice of their gen…

    Oh god, what the hell am I saying?

    Anyway, about a ten minute walk from the pub, in the Blackbridge mall, there is a place called “Mikiland” – a restaurant geared towards children’s entertainment with games, a play area, and the like. Think of a Czech Chuck E. Cheese, with a giant cartoon kangaroo instead of a giant mouse that has an almost child-molestor-like menace about it. The money that the above-mentioned sonofabitch spent on booze, the fruit machine and the darts would have easily been better spent at Mikiland. Hell, a walk and a talk with his girls would have been time better spent.

    Sure, pub culture is an important aspect of life in the Czech Republic, but there are far better ways of educating your child on how to behave in a public place. Galleries and museums for instance – and the excuse that kids find these boring doesn’t wash with me when watching Mommy and/or Daddy get blitzed is far duller.

    Hm… Whaddaya know… I don’t have kids, have just started to kind of entertain the idea of having them, and I’m arleady a better parent than I thought I’d be.

    I’ve lived in a few neighbourhoods here: Modrany, Vrsovice, Vinohrady, Radotin, Kunratice and now in Cerny Most. Don’t tell me that you rarely hear drunk Czechs at all hours of the morning – I don’t buy that one bit. “It’s usually on Friday nights before 11 pm” – well, that’s probably because you’ve got incredibly selective hearing.

    Firecrackers going off all day and all night up to and including, say, January 4th (if one is lucky) is not a good time, it is plain dumb idiotic. Unfortunately, Cerny Most seems to have more than its fair share of idiots – and they sure as hell aren’t expats.

    And not everybody gives a damn about whatever sport is making the nation get retarded. I believe that Comment # 4 to this entry sums up everything on this matter quite nicely.
    Patrick    Nov 11, 14:39    #
  12. It’s kind of weird to assume that all people that go to pubs are getting bombed. I don’t get drunk around my child and wouldn’t expose her to other drunks. We take our child to a pub for an early dinner from time to time. The type of pub that has good food and good air tech so it’s not smokey. There are several around town.

    Sometimes your babysitter(s) are out of town or just plain busy. Sometimes you just want a svickova and a cold pivo.

    Nearly all the things I thought I knew about raising a child prior to having one turned out to be ridiculous. And I mean that in a good way.

    About hearing the drunk Czechs – you’re right, it depends on your neighborhood. Mine has more drunk expats going from one expat hangout to another. Thankfully the weather has turned cold so the street is quieter.

    jane    Nov 21, 19:45    #
  13. Ok, fair enough, not all pub-goers are getting bombed while there. But I still find taking kids to pubs really odd. Maybe it’s a cultural thing – my dad definitely likes his beer, but I don’t recall him taking me to the pub as a child, and I don’t think it’s a common Canadian practice nowadays either. But, considering all the family restaurants we have to choose from, that’s probably not a fair comparison.

    Having recently talked with my pregnant sister kinda chilled me out on the issue, though I’m never going to be tolerant of screaming babies or kids in any restaurant I’m eating in.

    Cheers back at ya.
    Patrick    Nov 21, 20:02    #
  14. You should try thirteen hours in economy class on a 747 with three fighting and screaming kids. At least you can leave a pub if it gets to loud.

    My friends take their three year old to the pub and he is fine with it, but then he is a remarkably well adjusted feller. But if he starts to get upset, they leave, and that’s how it should be, pure and simple.
    Richard    Dec 1, 11:58    #