Being a villager at Kuan Zhai House



Someone thought it would be a great idea for us to go to a restaurant and cook our own dinner. I wasn’t hot about that idea, from the word go. I cook at home, I don’t want to have to go and cook at a restaurant as well. “Oh, but it’s about the experience,” she cried.

So we went to Kuan Zhai House, a Chinese restaurant on Argwings Kodhek Road. The garden seating consisted of small rectangular tables with a fireplace in the middle where guests cook from.

“This is a hotpot,” she told me, like you would tell a child, ‘This is fire, don’t touch it. It will burn you.’

She scanned the menu from her phone as I scanned around. Many Chinese families seated around tables, talking and eating. Children jumping on a trampoline. Decor consisting predominantly of wood.

I heard her confer extensively with the waitress, like surgeons do before a complicated surgery, as another waitress filled our tiny cups with some sort of black tea.

The fire was lit, and some pot carrying two types of broths with vegetables floating on it was placed on it. One hot, the other mild. Fish was brought, and so were mutton rolls and potatoes.

“What is this?” I asked her. “Mutton rolls.” She said, “They look like bacon,” I poked the mutton to see if it would stir. She asked me to accompany her to the sauce table where we grabbed sauces. We then tossed the fish and the mutton and some slices of potatoes in the boiling broth and sat back looking at each other.

“This is a lot of fun,” I said sarcastically. She kept slapping mosquitoes under the table so a waiter brought some burning mosquito coils.

When it was ready, or rather when she said it was ready, she instructed me to use a wooden spoon to fish out our food.

I couldn’t find the potatoes and when I found fragments of it, they looked like slices of ginger. I kept stirring the damn pot, spending half of my adult life trying to find our damn food.

Our food was either overcooked or missing all together. It was tedious work for me. Plus, she kept laughing at me, calling me a villager. As if that’s an insult. So, yeah, I’m not going back. No offence to Kuan Zhai.

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