Home' InDaily : July 30th 2010 Contents www.independentweekly.com.au
The Independent Weekly
July 30 - August 5, 2010
Ann Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org
In the past two weeks I ve had
lunch from my local deli a couple
of times, another nearby deli and
the newly opened Welland Plaza
Sushi Train franchise.
I eat out a lot and am blessed
to live in the western suburbs of
Adelaide, where there are myriad
cultures and so much great, cheap
food that if I ate out every night for
two weeks I wouldn t have to go to
the same place twice and probably
wouldn t have spent more than
Get the picture? There is plenty
of good, generous, cheap food.
So what s this all about? Well, I
think my local deli is pretty good
but I am stunned when a bit of
chicken schnitzel, a spoonful of
reconstituted ravioli and a little
cake costs $14.30 -- shit!
No one showed me to my table,
put my linen serviette on my lap or
asked me what I d like to drink! But,
it s my local deli and I just don t
expect all of that. They are friendly,
hard-working people, their shop is
clean and well-organised, and I like
and respect them a lot.
But I can t help wondering why
anyone would be mad enough to run
a restaurant. For another five bucks
I could have gone to Queen Street
Caf and had a simply scrumptious
A couple of days later, I was
starving again and noticed a new,
whopping big sushi bar at the
Welland Shopping Centre.
It has to be said that suburban
sushi generally sucks. Anyway,
I had two plates of sushi and a
nasty packet miso and it was $11
something or other.
I wished I d gone instead to my
local Vietnamese, Cam Wah. At
Cam Wah, for less than $10, you
get a yummy bowl of soup, so tasty
and so generous that I have never
seen the bottom of my bowl. Oh
In the middle of the week I
had to go to the post office and by
now, knowing I was doing market
research, I walked back to a
mainstream deli on Port Road that
has a brilliant business module.
It opens about 8am and closes
before 4pm. This is a very
Australian, old-style "snack bar"
on one side and a quite large, plain,
old-fashioned caf -- more like the
Greek fish and chip cafes of my
childhood -- on the other side.
The hot section boasted the
normal broad array of pies, pasties
and all their permutations. They
There was a selection of pre-
made wraps and rolls and, while
they were cut to display their
fillings, none looked very appetis-
ing, so I chose to have something
made to order.
Salami was the only indication
that it might not be a 60s timewarp
and even that looked like it was cut
a day or two ago.
There was chopped boiled egg,
corned beef, chopped chicken, nasty
mayonnaise, lettuce, sweet pickled
gherkins and onions, and green
tomato -- about 15 options all up.
The bread selection was "super-
market", and the thought of doing a
runner crossed my mind.
"What kind of bread, luv?"
Multigrain was probably the safest
choice. Then the lady said: "Want
margarine?" Astonished, because
I simply don t get bread without
butter, I requested butter. "Too hard
to spread, luv, it would rip the bread
It was clearly time to take a
stand, even though I was certain
they would laugh about the mad
old biddy who walked out, but my
answer was: "Well, thanks, but then
I don t want anything."
There are a couple of trendoid
delis in my area and, while the
quality of the bread is a little better,
none of them do a bread roll for
less than $8 and there is a lot of
bread and not enough filling. What
happened to the double-cut roll?
It works out that if you buy your
lunch every day of the week at your
local deli, then add a coffee to the
equation, it must cost at least $100
for five days. How can people afford
it?If you cook at home, stick with
seasonal produce and don t stray
into anything extravagant, you can
feed a family of four at home for
It is small wonder Asian eateries
and the market food halls are
always packed -- they are just such
good value for money.
A week later, I decided to go back
to the Welland Plaza Sushi Train,
partly out of curiosity and partly to
see how busy it was. And, of course,
to see if it was as ordinary as my
first impression or just a case of
This is a huge restaurant: they
can probably seat more than 100
around the bar if you include the
bench seats on two sides. It was
I m a chef, not a mathematician,
and this place is a gold mine. There
are three chefs, two floor staff
who rush to count your plates, and
a cashier. Try running any real
restaurant with so few staff -- a
restaurateur would turn green with
envy at the wage percentages.
The managers have already
worked out that their main
competition is the nearby KFC, and
have cleverly adapted about 50 per
cent of their plates of pseudo sushi
to Kentucky Fried with a Korean
twist -- basically, plates of deep-fried
crap that must always be nearly
cold because in the 30 minutes of
my visit no one returned to the
deep-fryer to replenish the plates on
the conveyor belt and none had been
This time I had four plates and no
drink. Teriyaki eel is a big favourite
with me and was delivered on
request; the eel was generous and
One of the plates was a sort of
Californian roll with some very
dry, tasteless teriyaki chicken in
the middle, while the tuna sashimi
was insipid, watery, badly thawed
and not redeemed by excess pickled
ginger, wasabi or soy. The crab
creamy croquette was deep-fried,
cold and oily, and I m still looking
for the crab.
I went to the cashier: $18! I was
astonished that a few ordinary
morsels cost as much as a good
entr e in Adelaide s more expensive
You can have a plate of perfect
sushi at Kenji for the same money
and I want to scream at the unfair-
ness of it all.
The unfairness is that chefs
and restaurateurs who care about
their craft work long, hard hours
and are rarely properly rewarded
When the people who make all the
money have long since gone home to
their family and friends, chefs and
restaurateurs will still be working
late into the night. This sticks in my
Why do we complain about prices
in a restaurant and yet get rolled by
suburban delis and food franchises
without a murmur?
Possibly the answer is that we
expect to get ripped off and have
no expectations of these eateries,
precisely because they are not "real
Please take a stand and give your
cash to people who care!
Time to demand value
from delis, franchises
For under $20 you could enjoy a plate of scallops at Jolleys Boathouse Restaurant or a delicious mixed entr e at Sosta Argentinian Kitchen.
Why do we complain about prices in a
restaurant and yet get rolled by suburban delis
and food franchises without a murmur?
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