Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Memories of Chinese Restaurants

I drove down Mount Road after a long time.
From the Gemini Circle to the Spencer Plaza end and caught in the evening rush hour, I gazed at the gleaming facade of a new building in Thousand Lights.

It wasn't the facade that interested me.
Wasn't this the place where one of our favourite Chinese restaurants existed?

I think it was called Nanking.
Why did we go there to eat in the 70s and 80s?

I was always fascinated by the way its entrance looked.
Wooden panels which framed quaint Chinese paintings on glass reflected the red and yellow light that streamed from above and from inside.
Some Chinese trinklets that were dropped from the door frame.
And if you froze for a few seconds on the sidewalk here you could pick up strains of music from the inside.
It was the kind of entrance which promised the unknown for a first time diner.

Nanking, if the name was right, had a warm atmosphere inside.
I did not get to know its owner very well. But one Anglo-Indian steward who lived beyond Perambur was a delight.
For, he would play all the old rock n' roll numbers on the music system in the dark corner. And he had stories of the city to share while the food was being cooked.

Nanking was a family-run restaurant like the many others in this city.
And if you were a diner enjoying the last service of the day, you would find the family sitting down at one of the tables for dinner.

There was a similar restaurant on Greames Road, its name I have now forgotten.
We went there for its delightful vegetable soup and the no-frills food.

Both these restaurants are now history.
I had wondered if Nanking would find a place in the same area off Mount Road after the house it occupied was demolished.
It certainly would have been anachronistic had it been given space or had the money to rent it in the new building where a private bank has come up and corporate offices may move in soon.

Where is the Nanking family today?
The Chinese community of this city deserves to be written about.
Perhaps you have stories to share here.


Anonymous said...

I would like the email address of Mr Vincent DSouza.My email address is

Anonymous said...

I remember visiting one Chinese Restaurant on Greams Road, we were just kids then, I remember my parents celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary in 1978 at this place. We used to frequent the place often. I actually went looking for it when i began working on Greams Road sometime in 2002. there used to be a lot of shops selling army surpluses if i remember correctly. the pavement in front of the rest. wasreally broad. my sas and I usedto run around and play till our order was ready.

I think the restaurant Vincent refers to is CHUNG FA.