“ Chinese. 63 Golders Green High Road, London NW11 8EL. Tel:0181 455 0704 „
Hainanese is a buffet offering limitless quantities of Chinese food for a set price. For £5.50 per person at lunchtime (£5.90 at weekends) and £8.20 in the evenings (at all times), you get as many trips to the buffet as you want - and you will want lots. The food, while not premium-quality, best-you've-ever-tasted stuff, is very enjoyable, and duck pancakes remain a perennial favourite with everyone. From the soup, through the dim sum, to the meat and veggie main dishes, there is a lot of variety - probably around 20-25 different things are on offer. The chicken dishes are particularly good, in my opinion. To drink, the choice is basically between trendy eastern beers (Tiger, Tsingtao) at £2.50 - £3 a glass, or as much Jasmine tea as you like for about £2. You may be interested to know that monosodium glutomate is a chemical that occurs frequently in Chinese cuisine and can often produce a headache when mixed with alchohol, which is why many people (myself included) prefer to drink tea. It tastes wonderful, and because it is mostly water you can happily drink vast quantities (at no extra charge after the first refill). Alternatively, there are soft drinks, and there is also a small selection of wine and other alcoholic drinks. Desserts are also available, including free vanilla ice cream or fruit salad. I recommend the fruit, as it's very refreshing, slightly different (the base is lichee juice), and if you have room for ice cream then frankly you haven't eaten enough plates of food! You can buy other desserts, but I never have. Chopsticks or cutlery are both on offer, and the restaurant now leaves knives and forks with the plates, at the buffet, so you don't have to embarrass yourself asking for them! This wasn't true when I came here for the first time... but let's be honest, do you really think the Chinese use a knife and fork when they eat sausages and chips? Service is included, at 10%. Depend
ing on whether people drink beer or not you will probably find you pay £10 - £12 per person. The service is pretty irrelevant as you just go to the buffet, but you do need them to take away your old plates (you get a new one whenever you get more food) and bring more drinks, and as far as it goes they are OK. It's a small place, not nearly as big as its big brother in Belsize Park, Weng Wah. At lunchtime, or most evenings, you can just turn up - if you're going on a Friday or Saturday night, on the other hand, you will be queueing unless you book. The number is at the top of the page.