Friday, 10 February 2012
Chinese lunch at St Thomas
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This rather striking Italianate frontage belongs to the St Thomas Building, built as an upgrade in 1861 to the station offices of Exeter St Thomas Station (see Exeter Memories, St Thomas Station, for background). Now no longer part of the station, it's been through a couple of recent incarnations as offices and a Chinese restaurant.
Today: just a recommendation, on the assumption that some readers of JSBlog will be local. We were passing through St Thomas on the way to buy paint at B&Q, and were sidetracked by the Winmede Chinese supermarket underneath the railway arch to the right of the building. It was rather unavoidable to be drawn to have lunch in the Wok Cafe, which opened just two days ago in the adjacent St Thomas Building.
"Authentic" is an overused word, but this Hong Kong style fast-food cafe definitely qualifies. Its style is genuinely Chinese, unlike that of highly Westernised Chinese takeaways; the daily specials included carp head, and the menu has many unusual items such as Red Bean and Sago Delight, Grass Jelly, and Bubble Tea; I noticed that most of the other lunch customers were Chinese. Nevertheless, there's plenty on the menu that won't frighten the horses; Clare had satay chicken with fried noodles, and I had won ton soup with vermicelli noodles (from the fixed-price noodle menu where you can pick-and-mix from half a dozen daily special toppings; several noodle styles, from ho fan to ramen; and a choice of sauce). It's all very affordable, freshly cooked in the open kitchen, and the place has a clean bright cafeteria decor and friendly counter service. If you need lunch while at the St Thomas shopping complex, check it out: wokcafe.co.uk.