There are posters around London as I write for the Wicked Zinger Meal. A KFC joint. Now we all know the Publog has a jones for Indie Chicken. Well I have a jones for non-indie chicken, corporate chicken and the Wicked Meal hits the very spot I love. Namely, the spicy zinger. And the meal comes with two hot wings, and a tub of barbecue beans (you cannot actually cook beans on a barbecue – I have tried). So needing food on Tuesday after Grizzly Man (the ravenous hunger of the man-eating bear had got to me) I headed towards KFC.
As I walked though I started to feel my usual dirtiness that fast food always confers upon me. So much so that as I turned down Wardour Street, I started to consider alternatives. And unfortunately this happened when I was outside Wong Kei.
Wong Kei is an institution, but then so was Bedlam and no-one mourned its passing. A Chinese restaurant on four floors, with fast turnover, jolly if rude staff and low prices. It is a student favourite and tourist favourite, and going in for the first time in almost ten years I was reminded of its good points. It feels like a living institution (indeed it probably is in some bad ways), the hectoring staff and the clatter of plates whizzing around the joint. The greeter sending people upstairs, downstairs or if you are on your tod and have the air of someone who knows what they want to order, you get a decent groundfloor seat. I got one: I felt special.
And my Singapore Fried Noodles (£3.80 – nineteen pence cheaper than the Wicked Meal) and free tea came within four minutes. It was almost wholly made of rice noodles, turmeric and monsodium glutamate. Not necessarily a bad thing – but my mouth was yellow and shriveling due to death by Umami in minutes. It filled me but I felt EVEN DIRTIER THAN IF I HAD GONE TO KFC. A sensation I did not believe could ever occur.
So great atmosphere, horrendous food. That’s why it took ten years last time, and probably ten years again.