One of the great victories of twentieth-century globalisation has been the proliferation of exotic foreign cuisine throughout the Western world. It might seem unthinkable to those who are used to running down the road for curry or Peking Duck, but once upon a time – and until very recently, in fact – you’d be hard-pressed to find yourself chicken vindaloo with naan in Manchester or to eat a steaming hot bowl of pasta in Dublin, Liverpool or Cardiff. Fortunately, the massive influx of migration to the UK over the past century, coupled with the legacy of the British Empire, has brought with it the finer points of foreign culture and cuisine. Now everyone in the United Kingdom is endowed with the means to go on a food safari within the limits of their residential city.
The Popular Vote
When it comes to the now-ubiquitous takeaway, Chinese food surely might be considered second only to the pizza for convenience, prevalence, and ease of eating (after all, not every Briton wants a fiery mouthful of over-zealously seasoned chilli prawns). Sometimes it seems like every street in Britain has a great Chinese takeaway complete with enormous bags of prawn chips and a queue stretching out the door. The nation’s major cities are particularly popular sites for Chinese takeaway, but how do you, as a hungry consumer, measure the difference between competing stores?
The first thing to consider, particularly if you live in a built-up urban area, is that Chinese takeaway shops are not all created equal. If, for example, you’re looking for the best Chinese takeaway in Bristol, you’ll want to evaluate more than one option before deciding on which restaurant you’ll be purchasing your meal from.
The best takeaway shops will have on their menus a combination of popular favourites and specialty cuisine aimed at lifelong enthusiasts of the shop’s particular culture. For example, three of the ten most popular takeaway foods in Britain are stalwarts of Chinese fast food. There’s prawn toast, with prawn mince and sesame seeds, crispy aromatic duck (served, ideally, on a pancake with hoisin sauce), and the versatile dish chow mein, which can be served with beef, chicken or whatever staple meat you desire.
Delivering on Promises
The greatest strengths of Chinese takeaway food are its versatility and the speed with which it can be served, so be sure to look out for takeaway shops that offer a range of eating options as well as allowing you to choose between pick-up and delivery. A wait time longer than forty-five minutes for delivery (except during peak hour, when the wait time has more to do with overwhelming numbers of orders and traffic jams than the restaurant itself) is far longer than industry standard, but a delivery time of forty-five minutes or less allows your chosen restaurant to cook the meal fresh for you before shipping it off with one of their trusted delivery drivers. The best services use both cars and mopeds to help them navigate traffic congestion and the narrow Victorian streets that comprise many British cities.