If an awkward dining experience is your kinda thing – here’s the place for you

REVIEW: Spring Deer, Nathan Road, Tsim She Tsui, Hong Kong
by Toby Jeffery

DMU students have been exploring Hong Kong as part of the unique #DMUglobal scheme. But not every Chinese restaurant lives up to expectations

A butch Australian man sits at a bar overlooking the golden beach of Hong Kong’s Big Wave Bay. After taking another sip of Tsingtao beer, he explains to a couple of gormless students that the best place to eat Chinese food in the whole region is off the vibrant, bustling Nathan Road in the Tsim Sha Tsui district. He’s been going there for twenty years.

Spring Deer restaurant does not stand out on Mody Road. To get to it, you must first be confronted by numerous gentlemen trying to sell you a tailored suit. Then, if you don’t walk straight past it, you enter and take the first, conspicuous stairway on the right.

You are greeted, sort of, by the host, who will ask if you have a booking. If you don’t, then you wait. Three small stools in a tiny corridor, facing all of the awards that the restaurant has obtained over the past few years. You sit there, anxiously. The food must be amazing.

We turned up only fifteen minutes after Spring Deer had opened and were lucky to get a table for two. The condition was that we were to return the table after an hour. We were hurriedly led to the table and sat down.

The service was, at best, terrifying. We had three different servers during the hour. One was a tall, intimidating lady wearing a black blazer and trousers, and a ruffled white shirt. Her role was to forcefully pour our drinks and approach us relatively frequently to complete the most menial tasks, including, but not limited to, moving the napkin from the table to our laps. Her expression almost suggested that even our being there was a nuisance to her.

Our favourite, however, was the waiter who would often come and pay us a visit. He would say nothing. He would walk to the table, and then pause, just for a moment or two. He would look around. And leave. He was our favourite because his service stood out. In comical value.

Let’s talk prices. Bear in mind that there is a Michelin-starred Dim Sum restaurant just up the road from Spring Deer that offers dishes which rarely cost more than £2 each. Here, I ordered a small dish of sweet and sour pork, for just under a tenner.

I hate to draw comparisons with the Chinese food that is available to take away in the UK, but it is easily possible to order an even larger portion of sweet and sour pork in batter (albeit much thicker, greasier batter) for around half the price of what I paid in Hong Kong. When it comes to value for money, I think I’d rather have the takeaway. The meal didn’t even come with rice, or noodles. That cost extra.

I’m sure that if you were willing to pay a fair amount for a full meal, you would get some good food in return. The quality of the pork wasn’t that bad. In fact, we did witness one table having the freshly cooked meat carved in front of them, ready for their unique dining experience. I guess that would be a nice touch.

But it’s not the food itself that left us scratching our heads upon leaving. My dining partner summed up the atmosphere of the meal in one simple, panicked expression when our new friend, the waiter, was walking towards us, again: “Ah, he’s coming!”.

I’ll remember that more than the food.

 

 

 

JOURNALISM STUDENTS EXPLORE THEIR FIRST DAY IN HONG KONG

By Adrianna Zawadzka

Hong Kong is one of the most diverse, magical and exciting cities in the world. Yesterday, seven journalism students from De Montfort University started their life-time adventure.

After checking-in to their hotel, leaving their bags and getting some refreshment, they went out to explore the hotel’s neighbourhood. While searching for a place to their first taste of Chinese food and drinks, students got a chance to see the meat and fish market, full of fresh and exotic food.

Briar Wooldridge, 21, said: “Fishes, crabs and lobsters kept in big aquariums and ready to be prepared shocked me the most in this place. I have never seen such a wide range of fresh sea food.”

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After a long search, the chosen restaurant turned out to be a great place for their first dinner in Hong Kong.

“We went there to get some drinks, but we ended up eating chicken and noodles, because the waitress didn’t understand us, and that was great,” said Seb Old, 22.

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A chicken dish

The next stop of the journey was the Chinese bakery, where the price for local cakes was 25 HK$ – the equivalent of 25p in the UK.

“Warm egg tarts were absolutely amazing,” said Sara Cardoso Torres Vinagre, 22. While eating the sweet treats in a nearby park, students got a chance to listen to the wild birds, which gave a beautiful melody.

After getting some well-deserved rest in the hotel, some of the students decided to explore central Hong Kong with a trip organised by Students Union. That gave them another chance to view the other side of this amazing city full of restaurants, shops, bars and pubs.

Students are looking forward for the rest of the amazing attractions waiting for them throughout the week.

 

 

Feature: Irish pub O’Neill’s reopens after revamp

One of Leicester’s best known pubs has reopened after a major revamp. Reporter Simon Sansome popped in to sample the atmosphere.

Andy Hazel Assistant Manager

O’Neill’s pub in Leicester has been around for ever. Most people living in the city would have walked past the pub or popped in for a pint and a meal. The Irish themed pub sits on Loseby Lane in the beating heart of Leicester. While the whole area has been renovated to a high standard, O’Neill’s used to look like it was lagging behind, with its dark wood, old man-style watering hole and out-of-date menu. They needed to do something to bring this once-loved pub back to life.

The renovated O’Neill’s feels cosy, welcoming and is open for business once again. They are offering an updated food menu from stone baked pizza to tapas and 21-day aged steaks. A new cocktail drinks menu and a range of crafted beers and ciders means there is something for everyone. O’Neill’s has also reached out to the younger generation by offering a new range of Churro doughnuts and dipping sauces.

To celebrate the renovation O’Neill’s launched a VIP night, with samples of the new menu on offer and entertainment with break-dancers, magicians, live music and stilt-walkers.

Long gone are the dark corners and flooring. Brighter lighting helps to create a more relaxed environment.

It still plays host to sports TVs but it is a more comfortable environment with better furniture, menu and, for me, better burgers.

O’Neill’s has welcomed many new and old punters through the doors since the revamp.

Dr Troy Levers, 55, International Law Lecture at Leicester University, said: “I like the environment, the pub feels cosy, the décor has been well done and makes people want so socialise.”

Joanne Gravett, 24, journalist, said: “The food is really tasty, we got VIP treatment and liked the people on the stilts, we took a photo standing under the people on stilts it’s just fun.

“I would recommend O’Neill’s to my friends and family.”

There is also a small private room for hire for a group of 10 people closed off from the bar for private meals and meetings.

Jo Blockly and Dawn Julian said: It’s a massive difference.

“It feels so much bigger, brighter and looks a lot cleaner and not closed off as it used to feel.”

Andy Hazel, Assistant Manager, said: “We have invested a lot of money to give the pub a fresher feel and changed the menu and introduced new music into Leicester by having live bands with good food.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sweet shop a cutlass above the rest

By Matthew Earth

Prague may be more famous for its beers and meat dishes, but those with a sweet tooth are definitely catered for.

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Dotted around the city are numerous confectionary stores, including multiple branches of Captain Candy, which allow customers to fill up bags with a huge range of different sweets from literal barrels – yes, it’s a pirate-themed sweet shop.

If you arrgghh fond of cola bottles, chocolate fudge or if a flying saucer tickles your fancy, there’s some delicious delights available to plunder. It might be the nicest tasting pick-and-mix you ever go to.

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These may look delicious, but be warned – they will cost you precious loot

For 160 Kzc, I came out with a varied selection of the treats on offer, and they were all sickly sweet. However, I felt I had been charged slightly too much. The sweets were nice, don’t get me wrong, but the total cost equated to more than £5 for a barely full bag. Shiver me timbers.

Authentic Czech food at the lowest prices in town

By Matthew Earth

Eating out in Prague probably won’t be expensive anywhere you go.

However, if you are truly on a budget but still keen on some authentic Czech food, hunting down a restaurant or café in Wenceslas Square may not be the wisest idea.

A meal out in the central areas of the city could easily set you back upwards of 500 Kzc, but if you are willing to do some restaurant trawling, there are some hidden gems out there which will appeal to those on a shoestring budget.

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Be sure to keep an eye out for this sign

Take Svetozor, which is tucked away in the Kino Lucerna mall, as an example. It’s approximately a five-minute walk from Muzeum metro station, meaning it has a prime and convenient location. It was here where we found beef goulash with a generous helping of bread, plus a Kozel beer, for a mere 128 Kc. That’s cheaper than many of the fast food restaurants you’ll walk past on your way there. If goulash isn’t quite your thing, there’s a wide range of authentic Czech dishes available, with a separate English menu for assistance.

Svetozor may not be the most glamorous place you’ll eat during your stay in Prague – it’s just a greasy spoon – but for the price, it’s well worth paying a visit, especially on a budget. The low prices mean that should you not actually like the food you won’t have wasted much, and the staff are friendly and helpful. Just make sure you head down before closure at 3pm, as the locals have a tendency to eat their larger meals at lunch.

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I’d never felt more Czech in my life