A Touch of Thai – Meadowood Cafe review

If someone invited you to an oriental fast food restaurant for lunch, what would you expect? Whatever your imagination conjures up, the Meadowood Cafe is probably not it.

The cafe has been going since 2003, when Andrew and Mei-ling Bell decided Edinburgh needed an authentic Taiwanese restaurant. With three children, however, time is short, so the cafe, on Bread Street, only opens from 11.00 am – 8pm and is closed on Saturdays. The main aim is clearly lunch for office workers who can choose to sit in or take out or film goers (it’s handy for the Filmhouse and the Cameo at Tollcross).

We ate there at lunch time – the food is freshly cooked which meant that we had a bit of a wait but we had plenty to chat about so it wasn’t a problem. It would be if you were anxious to get to your film on time.

Now let’s get this straight. Meadowood is not a restaurant with an ‘ambiance’ it is very much a cafe and not the smartest at that. The emphasis is on providing authentic Eastern cooking with a minimum of fuss. I chose Fried Chicken Noodle Soup – and was promptly asked which kind of noodles – there’s a choice of four. Andy opted for the wontom soup, with again a choice of noodles. Both were plenty filling! Eating soup with chopsticks has got to be a first for me but it was full of chunks of goodies that were easier to wrestle with when using chopsticks.

Having just returned from China I have to say the cooking was better at the Meadowood where the dishes are based on Chinese, Taiwanese and Thai recipes. My chicken pieces tasted delicious and unlike anything I’d imagined. Apparently most of the ingredients are imported so full marks for authenticity but thumbs down for sustainability. It also meant that asking Mei ling for the recipe proved difficult as she swears that you will be disappointed with anything other than the imported covering for the chicken pieces that she uses. She was, however, forthcoming with the recipe for her wontom soup parcels.

Andy's lunch

Wontom Vegetable Soup
You can buy a packet of wontom pastry which will make 40 parcels so you can either use a little at a time or make up your parcels and freeze the extra.
The filling
400g of minced pork or chicken or vegetable tofu
black pepper and salt
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
fresh or ground ginger
fresh garlic if you can chop it very finely, or 1 teasp garlic powder
1 teasp rice wine
1 spring onion
3 tbsp cornflour
Mix all together with 100cc of water to bind if using pork mince.

A tip when making the parcels is to keep a bowl of cold water handy to dip your fingers in.

Add to boiling water and boil for 3 minutes.
Then add to your soup stock.
You can use any seasonal leafy vegetables in the soup or a fish stock, although if you use chinese leaves, Mei ling suggests you chop and squeeze them first as they contain a lot of water.
Add your choice of noodles.
Hey presto!

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Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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