Besides for a starburst of sparkles in the sky, New Year's in Small Town, SA was pretty much uneventful. So, we decided to take a 50km drive and spend the day in Much Bigger Town, SA. Things there were quiet, all shops were closed and streets were empty but evident of the massive party the night before. While most revelers were re-enacting The Hangover, families picnicked in the park. I was looking forward to eating out at a fancyish restaurant, seeing that we have none in my hometown. Arriving at the empty parking lot of the designated restaurant; we found closed doors, chairs up and shutters down. It was disappointing, but we decided to try another place on the other side of town.
As we drove up to the entrance, large letters inside read “Sorry, we're closed.” That's not a problem, we thought, we'll just drive around and find somewhere else to eat. That clearly was enough optimism for the first day of the year, it actually was a problem, because everywhere else was closed. Alright, alright, I would be lying if I said absolutely every eatery was closed. Mcdonald's was open, but no one was in a mood for an MSG overdose and a tasteless, trans fatty, super-sized slice of cholesterol. Trying to find an open restaurant on New Year's Day is like trying to find sense in a Wayan's Brothers movie. There is None.
It was past 3pm on our hunger hunt, when we came across a small eastern restaurant. Someone in our group suggested that we try it out, just for the 'experience'. Faint and famished, we all agreed. We entered hesitantly, looking around and realising that we were a tad bit overdressed for our dark and dingy surroundings. Walls that were once cream and orange had a dusty brown tinge, burgundy chairs and plastic covered tables lined the sticky floor and all that separated us from the kitchen was a faded floral curtain. Sweltering in the 30 degree heat, I wondered how many food safety and health regulations were being violated in the dining area and kitchen.
The menu had an identity crisis, offering traditional dishes from all over India, Pakistan and China as well as modern fast-food favourites. I chose Chinese chow mein, while everyone else settled for peri peri chicken made on an open fire outside. Maybe hunger is the best spice, as once our flavourful meal arrived, we couldn't get enough. You really can't judge a book by it's cover, or in this case, a restaurant by its dilapidated décor, as the results can turn out to be far more pleasant than you thought. The aromatic dishes were a delicious end to our good food quest and a spicy start to 2011.