Shumpty Eats: Orient at Twin Towns

As with my post yesterday, I find myself reviewing a restaurant I know well here: Orient at Twin Towns.

Since it opened I would probably have eaten at Orient at least 25 times.  On level 1 of the Twin Towns RSL campus on the Queensland / New South Wales border, Orient is wedged down a corrider between an entrance to the main gaming room and another restuarant called Flames.  The first thing that strikes one as you cross the threshold into the restaurant is how busy it is.  The first hint is you generally have to queue for a table.  The second hint is the seamingly constant “ding” of the “order’s up” bell.

The decor is fairly rudimentary and the staff swift to seat you to the point of being abrupt so that once seated you find yourself encased the conversations around you which bounce off the walls with a menu under your nose to peruse.

The menu is basically what you would expect from a Chinese restaurant and, as is my usual practice, I have come to order the same dishes every time I attend.  My standard order is the chicken and sweet corn soup for entree and the sizzling szechaun beef with a side of steamed rice for my main.

The food is excellent: the chicken and sweet corn soup is piping hot and loaded with chicken (often missed in some of your dodgier establishments).  The serving size is just right: more than a taste but not so much so as to not leave enough room for ones main.

The sizzling szechaun beef does come out sizzling and is easily the best dish on the menu with the beef being supple rather the tough “boot leather” one often gets in such a dish and just the right mix of vegetables and spices to give the dish some real bite.

The food, by regular and general consensus, at Orient is nothing short of excellent.  I have never had a bad meal there.  In saying that I know of a number of my friends who often decline to eat there.  The rationale for this position is fairly plain to see and, indeed, was apparant again on my visit there last night.  The service side of the place has clear issues, being:

  • the service, despite getting you to your table swiftly is often not so swift to actually take your order;
  • the order taking of the wait staff often leaves a bit to be desired.  Better put, it is a rare meal when there is not one part of the order that is forgotten.  Tonight, it was an entree order of dim sims;
  • there is no table service for drinks: one has to attend at a bar just inside the front door of the restaurant which often gets quite crowded and can be problematic to get to if you are sitting against the opposing wall of the restaurant; and
  • it is not possible to order enough rice for everyone at the table, rather you have to order individual portions of rice.

If any of these quirks in the dining experience are likely to make your experience less than enjoyable then you either have to decline to attend this establishment or get over it (and to be honest perhaps yourself) because the food is definitely worth it.

A final note, and whilst it is not the test of whether a restaurant is a good one or not it must be said that from the perspective of value for money Orient is very hard to go past.  Tonight a table of seven (all eating an entree and a main) ate for the princely sum of $142.50.  I for one will wear some quirky service for food and value like that presented EVERY time I have dined at Orient.

This is simply a restaurant that should be on the must visit list for anyone coming down to the tweed border.

My favourite places: Rainbow Bay

This is my second post on the issue of my favourite places.  Rainbow Bay is indeed one of those places.

For those who don’t know where Rainbow Bay is it is on the border of Queensland and New South Wales on the northern side of Point Danger between Coolangatta Beach and Duranbah Beach.  To say I have spent a lot of time in this place would be an understatement.  As a family, the Humphreys’ have spent all but five of our Christmases (if my memory serves me correctly) down at this paradise on the coast.

Initial holidays were spent in the caravan park with my grandparents Allan (who I have already written about in this blog) and Elaine.  To say I loved the times spent in the caravan park on holiday would be an understatement.  I vividly remember hitting the beach from 7am until lunch time and then playing in the park next door to the caravan until sun down.  Friendships were formed over games of cricket or kicks of the soccer ball which ended at the end of the holiday only to recommence the next time one hit the caravan park.

Even in these early years of my life down at Rainbow Bay life was about routine: breakfast, beach, chip sandwiches, play in the park, wait for granddad to return from the pub, dinner at the Club and then games of Uno around the dinner table.  Christmas days were spent in the annex of the caravan.  Our holiday routine was shattered by events out of our control when I was 11: the caravan park was shut and then my grandparents moved to the north coast.

That did not stop the family Humphreys trekking to Rainbow Bay for school holidays and most importantly Christmas however. The only difference between our caravan holidays and those spent in holiday units was the lack of mucking around in the park.  Before I could drink the routine remanded the same: beach, walk, beach, walk, cricket on TV, dinner at the club.  One of the great things about holidays at Rainbow is (well was then) that at Christmas time the place becomes “Little Ipswich” and being that Ipswich is where I am from there were always friends from school or just the next street to knock around with.

As time has moved on all that has really changed, having reached the heady age of 18, is that the routine has now become walk, breakfast, beach, cricket on the TV, chip sandwiches on fresh bread, Twin Towns RSL for a few XXXX Golds and then dinner at the Club.  This routine is repeated save for on golf days.

I have spoken a lot about routine in this post and that is one of the things I love about my yearly sojourns to Rainbow Bay: not only does the place not really change all that much but the routine does not change all that much either.  On holiday, that is often all I want: to descend back into the sameness of routine as a way to relax.

It is the sameness that keeps me coming back (now that it is a personal choice rather than by parental decree): the fact that chicken parmagiana at the Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club is always of the highest quality, the beer in the Sportsman’s Bar of Twin Towns is always at genuine 1970s prices, the chips at Dee and Paul’s Cafe are always crisp and go perfectly on fresh white bread and one can walk to anywhere one wants to go.

I hope some of the traditions that have started up down at Rainbow Bay every Christmas such as the Ipswich Old Boys bowls day which was started by my grandfathers and their mates some 30 odd years ago and now attended by my dad and I in their honour and the Boxing Day punters club at the RSL never change and I know I will be there again this year to keep the traditions going.

Now that we have all gotten a bit older, Rainbow Bay has become a place that my nephews now love and look forward to going to every year.  They are experiencing the caravan holiday with their grandparents (my parents) just like I did and I envy them that they have years ahead of them to discover the delights of this haven.

“Let’s dig a hole Uncle Steve”

Rainbow Bay has played such a big part in my life, it will always be one of my favourite places.