Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mingling with Flying Canapés

On London’s wettest day of the year, I stepped out of a downpour into the glamorous venue chosen for Dimsum’s Chinese New Year Party. The volunteer-run website, owned by Editor Sarah Yeh, recently won first prize at the Pearl Awards for Services to the UK Chinese Community. The event was sponsored by CMC Marketing.

Awana Malaysian Restaurant is in Sloane Avenue and the name apparently means ‘In the Clouds’. I learned this from reading a Michael Winner Sunday Times review that was framed on one of the walls inside.

I’m not very keen on ‘mingling with flying canapés’ because sometimes you need a rugby tackle to get any food. It’s called ‘networking’ and you get to meet people with similar interests and come away with a handful of follow-up business cards. When I’d shed my umbrella and coat, collected my name label and a Tiger beer I was all set.

The average age of the mainly Chinese attendees mingling in the romantic lighting of the restaurant space was about 25. I chatted to Michelle Zhang, editor of a Chinese newspaper based in Milton Keynes and agreed about that city’s lack of history. Then Directing President of a Hong Kong film group described a style of independent films called ‘mocumentaries’ as ‘like Borak’. I also talked to an Education Associate for the London-based Yellow Earth theatre group.

Early on, when trays were presented with a bow, it was easy to help oneself to delicious snacks such as peanuts and the tiny crispy fish called ikan bilis that taste like bacon, small squares of pancake with a spicy dip or tiny pastry cups with a savoury filling. Later, I could only admire the trays of satay and other delights as they flew past.

I enjoyed the musical interlude provided by Amanda Wong, who sang a couple of soulful Chinese ballads, although she struggled to be heard above the chatter.

Travelling home on the tube I heard passengers told not to alight at Victoria as the eastbound platform was flooded. They’d have to get off at St James’s Park and head back westbound. I had to leap across streams on Lewisham Hill, but was glad I’d braved the weather.

The ‘goody bag’ I’d been given on leaving had a voucher for a two-course lunch for £12.50 including a glass of wine. If it stays fine I might well take advantage.

Yellow Earth Theatre:

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