Food For A Fiver: Wasabi's chicken in spicy sauce

By Jon Massey on January 13, 2014 12:08 PM |

Chicken in spicy sauce, £4.95

It's mid-January and there are worse ways to slip up than this, frankly huge, portion of glutinous delight.

There's an accepted wisdom on the Wharf that customers at takeaways should be dealt with swiftly, sharply even.

Some chains, mindful of the sausage factory, border on the rude.

Order requests are rapidly machine-gunned, mowing down the peckish in a hail of "guacamole, cheese, toasted, sauce, rice? Till number two".

Wasabi's popularity has forced it to adopt a curious Argos-like ticketing system as its staff expertly divide their labour in a blizzard of miso and chicken katsu curry.

It can't be a lot of fun of a lunchtime and they have my sympathy, partly because I've never had to wait too long even at 1pm and partly because it must be hellish.

The festive period was probably a mixed blessing - fewer, but quieter shifts.

Which is perhaps why they were able to deal with the nice elderly lady in front of me so well.

An atypical Wharfer, mid-70s and tugging a wheeled shopping cart in her wake, she addressed the people in the kitchen in a soft breathy whisper, barely audible to me, adjacent in the queue.

But the man and woman who served her took trouble to get what she wanted exactly right and did so all genuine smiles.

It was the kind of episode that shores up your faith in human beings.

Instead of brisk incomprehension and repeated verbal jabs they agreed with her the portion sizes were much too large (it was their fault, not hers for suggesting such a thing) and that this state of affairs was unfortunate.

They made certain she was happy and even managed to avoid looking annoyed at the small epoch she took to check her change.

An easy task, you would have thought as it came in the form of a £5 note and a five pence piece. There wasn't a smidgen of irritation.

I wonder whether she'd have been so kindly dealt with by a horde of starving Wharfers in a rush?

My chicken in spicy sauce meanwhile, remained happily steaming on the hot plate, no damage done.

Coming back to the Wharf after the festive break can be a shock to the system. You need something warm and comforting inside and out.

January is an unkind mistress. Freezing rain, bitter winds, blown resolutions, the first cigarette after abstinence.

So while you might not be able to relax much after the festive break, if you do venture to this outlet you can at least be certain you're buying from pleasant people.

True, you're unlikely to feel that warmth amid the bustling lunch rush.

But, at one of the least pleasant times of the year, that fact alone might be enough to light a little fire inside you. And that's important.

As for the food, the elderly lady's right. The portions are too large.

This is a meal that will sit in your stomach like an iron cannonball.

But you've just spent weeks stretching your organ in preparation.

Like an Olympic athlete it can take this. It's gone through any number of pre-festive feasts, the big day itself then oodles of turkey leftover meals.

And as for all that cheese. Your organs will have been working overtime.

Why not give them another hit of gut buster? You've got your new six-times-a-week gym regime to burn it off, after all.

Will the pungent odour make those sitting around you envious and furious? Yes.

Will your New Year halo be as bright and shiny as ever? Probably not.

But what's 2014 for if a few indulgences can't be enjoyed? After all, there's nothing so depressing as not breaking a resolution or two early.

That way you can recycle them in 2015.

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