Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cold and wet, wet and cold

I'm a weather person. When it's sunny, I'm happy. When it's cloudy, I reach for long sleeves and I'm not so happy. When it's cold and raining all day, I want a blanket and nothing to do with the world. So I myself am a little baffled and surprised to have spent the bulk of a day in a poncho tiptoeing around mud bogs (in Havaianas, mind you) in a mud-boggled Centennial Park on a miserable, grey, non-stop rain day for the Good Vibrations Festival. I can say, at least, that I have a new-found appreciation for the seemingly flimsy sheet of plastic that constitutes a $1 poncho. I am indebted to my poncho, which I callously discarded at dinner, for keeping me relatively dry and for the steaming effect that kept me relatively warm for most of the day.

A long, energetic day calls for subsistence of enduring and nurturing qualities. One obvously needs sustaining energy to keep going till night and you don't want anything exotic or greasy that may not be entirely comforting in a jumping-around sort of environment. The 350g packet of jelly lollies played a minor but important role in this throughout the day and night. As for something slightly more resembling proper food, we made an unplanned visit to that healthy fast food chain, Subway.

Ham and turkey six-inch from Subway

Freshly baked carbs, processed protein, various nutrients and vitamins from multiple vegetable servings in a handy, clutchable form - the ideal urban meal on-the-go in the rain in a poncho. Well, sort of. It lined the stomach surprisingly well for the afternoon and evening to come, filled with tents of pumping music; exorbitantly priced beverages; dancing and jumping about like an idiot; the odd bit of poncho-less running from tent to tent; whinging about the cold and wet; feet and thongs submerged in mud puddles; friendly banter with fellow queueing throngs at the portable toilets; and other drenched festival activities.

By the end the non-stop rain was persisting and a new level of cold was starting to seep in through wet clothing. The poncho-ed trudge back towards the buses was entertained with the washing of feet and footwear in water puddles and thought of hot, warming food. The first thought was immediately Chinatown followed quickly with images of steaming bowls of soup or congee. Warm thoughts excited the stomach - which seemed very enthusiastic for congee; a meal I am normally not drawn to - but the feet were tired, cold and in a not-talking-to-me mood.

The bus ride was loud and jovial and we were all too happy when we got off near Chinatown. The rain continued and got plenty heavier as we dashed towards Goulbourn Street with ponchos working overtime. I think it was relief I felt as we entered the brightly lit, dry and warm doorway of Super Meal, pulling off my plastic hero and shaking off the drops.

They have a proper dinner menu of dishes to be eaten with rice or a menu of one-dish noodles or rice meals. As I caress a cup of hot tea and skim the latter menu, I think my feet give up their obstinance and rejoin the rest of the body. I'm craving something warm, and again, not too exotic or greasy. My fellow freezing festival-goer and diner goes for somthing not so exotic but high on the grease scale. And we add an order of dumplings as there's always room for delectable dumplings, right?

The first to arrive to the table is my companion's noodle dish. I fight to control my laughter as the plate is bigger than probably two of my heads, piled up high and steaming. Here I include shots of the meals on arrival and the meals after our pretty lame attempts at their consumption.

Seafood combination chow mein

Seafood combination chow mein after eating

The huge pile of crispily fried thin egg noodles is covered with tubes of squid; big, white pieces of mostly boneless fish; a couple of scallops; a few prawns; choy sum and carrots. The seafood is in a mild, thickened white-ish sauce that becomes cloying before too long. I must say that fellow diner did rather poorly on the meal, perhaps due to the oily mouth feeling after a few helpings, but a suitable lunch to take home for tomorrow I'd think.

I've ordered something much plainer and appealing to my tongue, stomach and all the way down to my toes. Its arrival also provokes some laughter as it seems I've scored a steaming bowl the size of my head plus a half.

Plain egg noodles in soup

Plain egg noodles in soup after eating

The photos may look deceivingly like I just drank all the soup and ate the choy leaves, but I did have a good go at the noodles. The soup was exactly what I was after - hot, savoury and not tasting overtly of flavour enhancers. It was, however, a little too subtle in flavour paired with the egg noodles, although I didn't want to sully the soup with soy sauce or chilli. I kept mostly to the soup and the tender choy, taking in as much warmth and goodness as possible.

I love a good dumpling and I almost don't mind a mediocre one - that's how much of a dumpling fan I am. It's very rare that I won't finish a dumpling, lest it contains some version of animal blood or fish skin or other unappetising ingredient. Sad to say, these dumplings were way beyond mediocre - and I mean beyond in the not good direction.

Pork meat dumplings

They looked promising; a plate of plump, juicy bundles before us. I splashed mine with a bit of red vinegar sauce and bit into the doughy pastry, chewing thoughtfully. I disregarded my initial reaction to covertly spit it out to give it a few more chews and a bit more of a chance. To no avail.

Pork meat dumpling after eating

The pastry was thick and soggy and encased a red-hued, textureless, tasteless minced pork mixture. There didn't seem to be any vegetable inclusion in the mix, or none that we could discern anyway. It was like mush wrapped in a thick, mush pastry, perhaps edible in less sober times. I left the bitten dumpling and its fellows alone.

I believe quantity reigns over quality here but I guess as much can be expected for any late night dining establishments. I might chance a second visit to try the proper dinner menu or even another highly recommended noodle dish, but for this night I'm just happy that it's been warm and dry.

Supermeal Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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