Shopping: The ultimate Chinese Takeaway Kit
Saturday 22 August 1998
Palmweave placemats, pounds 4 each from Habitat (0645 334433 for enquiries), will keep your table pristine while you slurp away. An additional rolling mat costs pounds 2.95 from Habitat (0645 334433 for enquiries) and the most essential item - chopsticks, cost pounds 2.95 from Habitat (0645 334433 for enquiries). Leaf-shaped chopstick rests are pounds 6 for six from Wing Yip (0181 450 0422).
Dim the lights and hang up tealight-filled lanterns instead. Chinatowns around the country are good places to stock up on cheap chinese equipment and decorations and this lantern costs 50p from the Newport Supermarket (0171 437 2386) in London's chinatown.They come in a range of colours and sizes so there's no excuse not to buy a whole bundle.
No 'chinese' style table would be the same without bamboo. This sturdy bamboo tray costs, pounds 55 from Emily Readett-Bayley (0171 231 3939 for catalogue) and is perfect for carrying necessary bottles of Tsing Toa beer, 68p each, from Wing Yip. And, if your sweet and sour prawns are a little on the bland side, a small bottle of chilli oil, 98p from Wing Yip, is just the thing for spicing them up.
Another practical item that will come in handy for almost any occasion on your home entertaining calendar is this large circular tray. It costs a very reasonable pounds 15 from Habitat (0645 334433 for enquiries) and is shown here supporting a traditional rice pattern teapot, pounds 3.20, and three matching rice pattern cups, 40p each, all from Wing Yip (0181 450 0422).
When the Tsing Tao beer starts to kick in, turn to tea instead and, as an accompaniment here, the order of the day is definitely Jasmine. Most chinese supermarkets will have an astonishing selection of jasmine tea to choose from but it is also available in many British high street shops. This packet costs pounds 2.50 from Whittard of Chelsea (0800 525092).
Apart, possibly, from fish and chips scooped hungrily out of newspape wrappings, food never seems to taste as good unless it's eaten from the right kind of crockery. For a chinese meal that means a rice pattern bowl, pounds 1.28, a rice pattern side plate, pounds 1.48, and, as an emergency escape option from your chopsticks, a rice pattern spoon, 40p. All from Wing Yip (0181 450 0422).
A bottle of light soy sauce is without doubt the must-have of the chinese condiments and it's worth getting an authentic brand. This one costs 40p from Wing Yip (0181 450 0422). Prepare for the end of the meal by adding a bottle of sweet plum wine, pounds 3.23 from Wing Yip (0181 450 0422), to your tray. It will wash down the remnants of the jasmine tea perfectly.
Most people find that a takeaway chinese meal is enormous. But, if you can find an empty space, rip open a small (150g) bag of lychees, 99p until 30 August and then pounds 1.39 from Sainsbury (0800 636262. The soft, scented, deliciously gooey fruit in the spiky red shell is worth the squeeze.
Photographs by Neville Elder
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