March 2004
Felix Hunt - gourmet at large

Salutations! The editorial team at london-eating have been inundated with requests that I walk amongst you again. And whilst many and various 'webnet sites' have been clamouring for my perfect prose, I have eschewed their blandishments in favour of london-eating. The poor dears have no money, but vulgar reimbursement was never my aim. It is enough to know that I am making a difference.

This month I have been dispatched to a Japanese eatery. Normally of course I will only dine in French restaurants. I bear no ill will to the little chaps far from it; my experiences on the Burma railway are mercifully fading. But when I tell you that we had only hard lavatory paper and little enough of that, you can gain an inkling of how we suffered in those dark days.

The restaurant in question, 'Yo! My First Sushi!' is located in a rather grim outer suburb of London called Hoxton. The locals all appear to be outfitted at the same tailors and walk around looking very depressed. Michael, my new young companion and assistant, informed me this is because anyone caught smiling is immediately ostracised by his or her colleagues. I assumed a suitably grave mien, while Michael donned a black pullover and a pair of dark spectacles. Thus camouflaged we felt able to leave the taxi and enter the restaurant.

And what a site met our eyes! Like something out of darling George Orwell's little books (such a dear, at Eton we were always in each other's rooms) the restaurant experience here is dehumanised to the extent that the patrons are forced to perch on high stools, whilst the food fairly whizzes around on some kind of outlandish Hornby railway system. One simply grabs at passing plates, I was told. The first time I tried this I failed to land the dish and was dragged half way around the table, much to the delight of my fellow diners.

Apparently when this happens the form is for everyone to cry 'Twat!' - the Japanese for 'Bad Luck!' However, employing the timing that once stood me in such good stead at the Oval in 1945 (it was never LBW, whatever Wisden says) I succeeded in bringing a plate in front of me.

Imagine my horror on consuming a piece to find I was eating an uncooked fish! Discreetly using my napkin, and feeling really rather faint, I removed the offending piece of poisson from my mouth and called over one of the staff. I am not one to cause a fuss in restaurants, as you know, and so I quietly mentioned that the dish had not been cooked and was, in fact raw. The little fellow nodded happily and smiled at me whilst saying nary a word. I repeated my complaint but received no apology. Instead the inscrutable midget insisted on thrusting a plateful of quivering tentacles at me and making 'eat, eat' motions with his spare hand.

At this my temper flared and I fairly raced around to where I could see the chef at work. His big knife was in his hand. This he flashed it at me in what I took to be a menacing fashion and so I defended myself with a succession of accurate jabs to his midriff with my sturdy umbrella. 'That's for Shorty!' I cried, 'And Smudger and all the other beautiful brave boys of B Battalion Catering Staff! We will neither forget nor forgive!' The yellow peril immediately swarmed all over me and soon after I found myself deposited heavily on the pavement outside. Michael escaped by distributing £20 pound notes to the wildly gesticulating hordes and then dragged me into a passing taxi.

Needless to say, I shall not be going there again. Even Marco Pierre White never stooped so low as to wave his chopper at me.