A Tale of Two Takeaways

The following is a true story and is the reason why you should not eat at the U Konfucia Chinese restaurant (formerly the very Czech Jamp Bar), situated at Biskupska 5.

I walk into the restaurant with an appetite that’s grumbling about getting something fast and a bulimic wallet that demands something cheap. The place seems pleasant enough, dimly, lit, television in dire need of tuning showing Czech news. Two ghost-pale waitresses looking bored stare at me with a mix of indifference and contempt as I enter.

After a cigarette-long wait, one of the waitresses slouches over to my table. Her eyes are glazed over, a shadow of dark hairs runs over her scowling upper lip, and she looks real hard done by.

An item on the menu has piqued my curiosity; I point to the words Suej-Cu and in Czech I ask her, “Could you please tell me what this dish is?”

The moustachioed she-thing stares at me for a few seconds, then shrugs her shoulders and with the tone of an angst-riddled teenager says, “Hell, I don’t know. It’s some kind of Chinese food.”

I look at her in disbelief as I stand up, put on my jacket and sling my bag over my shoulder. On my way out, the two po-faced waitresses hold my gaze. Hundreds of insults flash through my head, but all I manage to blurt out is, “Learn some goddamn manners,” as I step out of the restaurant.

I end up at the opposite end of the spectrum about an hour later. The following is also true and is the reason why you should eat at the Di Wang Chinese restaurant (formerly the very Czech U Bendlu) at Konevova 89.

I enter a room dominated by red, trimmed with gold. The place has all the traditional fixings: dainty watercolour replicas on the walls and placemats; cheesy tooth-rottingly sweet Chinese (or could it be Vietnamese?) crooning over bad, equally saccharine, pop; upholstered chairs; and a couple of shy permagrinning Asian waitresses gesticulating and talking their impossible language frantically behind the bar.

I order a spring roll (CZK 25), Szechuan Beef (CZK 69) and a coke. The service is fast and friendly, the spring roll is big and crunchy and contains an adequate amount of meat to go with the cabbage and carrot, and the beef is spicy and practically melts in my mouth. To top it all off, I get a good-sized bag of loose black tea and a couple of chocolates gratis after I settle up.

In Prague, Asian restaurants and takeaways are as plentiful as daschshunds. The selection and prices are pretty much uniform. The quality ranges from dubious to stellar, with the majority of Asian fast-food joints offering meals that simply serve the basic function of satisfying hunger on the cheap. I don’t know whether the food at U Konfucia is any good and I probably never will (though I am still interested in knowing what Suej-Cu is). But I’ll definitely go out of my way for a meal at the Di Wang.

Dec 28, 10:00 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

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