You should know this, I am a very curious person. Not only do I love gossiping (yeah, I’m not proud of it) but also discovering and trying new, previously unknown, things! Especially food! Lucky for me, Madrid happens to be a perfect city to live in if you are eager to try any of the wild spread global cuisines.
I have always thought that you don’t necessarily need to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy a great meal. If you are more like don’t-want-to-spent-200-bucks-on-a-meal-but-want-to-enjoy-awesome-food person, you should definitely try one of the underground restaurants. Before you do, ask yourself if there are any borders you are not ready to cross. You don’t care about a filthy floor? You don’t care about dirty tables? Want to experience the best Chinese food in Madrid? And pay a penny for it? If you answered YES at least 3 times, then you are mentally prepared to visit Zhou Yulong Bar.
So you have already noticed that it contains the word bar in its name, haven’t you? Honestly I wouldn’t even call it a bar. It is rather a teeny tiny spot under one of the most emblematic squares in Madrid – Plaza España. Zhou Yulong Bar and the subterranean parking share the same entry. It is not the most welcoming place and the waitress who works there is so boorish that makes you wonder if she’s going to spit into your noodle soup. But hey, it’s unfair to judge the book by its cover, right? So I didn’t, I had the courage to try the food.
It was some time ago when I only used my kitchen to boil water for tea and was always too busy to think about cooking. Eating out was my only solution. When I asked my friends to have a lunch in the subterranean Chinese bar, for some reason my open-minded and eager to discover new things friends weren’t so cheerful about the idea. But eventually I made them change their minds – yes, I can be very persuasive if I want to (a little blackmail won’t do them any harm).
What surprised me most, was a huge line to get in. There were 8 or 10 people waiting to get a table.That was actually a good sign. Once we got our tiny dirty table I felt as if I were in a doll house – I seemed to be too big for this place. There were no more than 4 tables, all of them old and wasted. The place was cluttered and not tasteful at all. The walls were grey, decorated with creepy paintings and dried flowers.
– A great example of Chinese working class fast food – I whispered.
For the record, I am a tolerant person, and the (dead broke) Addams Family decor is fine with me. I imagine that’s how they’d do it in communist China in the early 80’s.
A Chinese family sitting next to us were slurping their soup loudly; the TV was set on a Chinese channel making us feel like we actually were in communist China. Let’s get something straight, we weren’t there because of its decor, we were there only because of the food.
When I checked the prices on the menu I was almost sure that the main ingredient of their meals are homeless dogs and cats (however I am pretty sure it’s illegal in Europe). Everything was so cheap! We ordered some cooked chicken with steamed Chinese veggies, noodle soups and fried dumplings with sesame.
– No way that’s made of dog meat! Maybe a pigeon.. ? – I thought.
As I had done some research before, I knew that it’s a good idea to bring your own cutlery with you, in order to eat the food without catching any germs. And I did so. My friends seemed a little embarrassed of me but in deep down they were jealous of me being predictable.
It surprised me how delicious the food looked and smelled. And it tasted even better. The best Chinese food ever!
The place is nothing like other quasi Chinese/Asian restaurants in Spain. It was a whole new experience for me. And it was the closest to China I have ever been. However I still have my doubts regarding the origin of the chicken (or other domestic animal) we ate…