As I’ve said so many times, food is very personal. What is Marmite for some will be caviar for others. There are times when I wonder whether I should write a post if we’ve had a bad experience. It may have been an off night, especially if others have sang its praises historically. That said, there are some things I find unforgivable and feel it is important to share these with those who read the blog so they think twice about parting with their hard earned.
I wanted to take the Teen out for a meal to celebrate his recent birthday and decided Hei Hei, located on Newcastle’s Dean Street, would be a safe bet. The Journal’s Secret Diner does not dish out 5 star reviews lightly, so to see he rated it so highly was quite the endorsement. Admittedly this was back in 2013, but that hasn’t stopped them retaining the sticker proudly on its window all these years. Even recent TripAdvisor reviews were similarly gushy.
I contacted ahead of time about our veganism and was assured we’d be acommodated. Having looked at the menu before the call, I specifically asked about certain dishes, like the Sweetcorn Soup. Mr. Canny was still poorly and didn’t have much of an appetite, but I knew he’d be ok with light food such as this.” It’s fine” was the response.
With a Happy Hour Menu running until 6:30pm during the week for £6.95/£8.95 for 1 or 2 courses, it was going to be reasonably priced too, which was great when I was being told the Teen needed new trainers and wanted to go paintballing as we were walking to the restaurant.
Unlike Mr. Secret Diner, we weren’t looking for anything particularly different to what you’d find on other menus in similar restaurants all over the city. The Teen has very basic tastes and that’s absolutely fine. There’d certainly be no exotic offal or feet ordered here. I was tempted to try out the aubergine dish he’d waxed lyrical over to see how it compared to La Yuan’s offering I’d tried recently, but knew I’d be managing it on my own.
Instead I opted for a starter of Spring Rolls, then Tofu, Spring Onions and Ginger for main course. The Teen chose Pork Wontons followed by Sweet and Sour Chicken. His birthday, his choice.
The first error arrived in the form of Mr. Canny’s soup. After asking whether it was suitable and being assured it was when ordering, as it was placed down on the table the waiter informed us it was ‘Sweetcorn, Egg and Asparagus Soup’. Whether he’d gotten confused or not we can’t be sure, but it was taken away after we reminded him about the veganism. He returned a few minutes later with another (?) bowl of soup, plonked it down abruptly on the table and said ‘egg free’ in a curt manner. The Teen was trying to stifle his laughter as he thought it was a joke the way he spoke to Mr. Canny, but we didn’t find anything funny about it.
Considering this was supposed to be a happy occasion, I was feeling anything but. The food itself was decent, with the only other complaint I could muster relating to the greasy underside of my spring roll. But the tension of this exchange at the start of the meal hung over us for the entire duration.
Mr. Canny let me in on a secret via a WhatsApp message as we sat there – said waiter had not washed his hands after using the facilities. He’d witnessed him walking out afterwards without so much as a splash of water. I’m just going to leave that fact for the readers to make their own mind up on.
Once we arrived home both the Teen and Mr. Canny were physically sick. Whether it was the bug doing the rounds in our house at the time or something else, we don’t know. I asked the Mr. whether he believed he’d been given an egg free soup after the complaint and he said he thought it was unlikely. Having read recipes for Sweetcorn Soup now, I’ve subsequently discovered it is usually made with egg whites to give it that almost gloopy consistency. For a restaurant with a note in its menu about allergens I think they’re potentially playing fast and loose if they are ignoring what is being stated as a dietary requirement by customers. I will correct this post if I am informed otherwise, of course. We naturally remain resolutely disgusted about the lack of hygiene displayed by a member of their staff, however. I probably should have tackled this at the time, but on account of the occasion I thought better of it. Based on his attitude during the soup incident I doubt very much he’d be contrite.
I wasn’t going to post at all about the meal, but feel this may act as a warning for those with allergies who are thinking about Hei Hei. Be very clear what you can and can’t eat. If you feel unhappy, leave. That’s exactly what we should have done once the starters arrived.
Thanks for reading,