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The Community Lunch at the Chinese Community Centre

Behind a non-descript door on a quiet alley in Chinatown (as oxymoronic as that may seem) there lies the Chinese Community Centre, where residents of Chinatown and those from further afield gather to eat, drink tea, play mahjong and find themselves in a home away from home.

Whilst you may have heard of their wide-ranging schedule of activities such as Cantonese courses, Chinese painting and Dim Sum class, you may not have heard of their Community Lunch, which occurs every Tuesday and Thursday 12-2pm.

For just £6.50 (or £5.00 for CCC members and £4.50 for elderly members) you can enjoy a huge plate of freshly cooked food, served up with a smile in the Dining Hall of the Centre. Just as an example, the day our writers went to visit, they were served Pork and Lotus soup to start, followed by a choice of Chicken with Woodear Mushroom or Caramelised Crispy Pork Belly, with bok choy, red braised fish and steamed rice – a spread fit for a king.

The atmosphere is noisy and jovial, as little old ladies sit around the table gossiping in Cantonese and an old couple makes jokes with each other, while in the corner a man sitting alone seems to be savouring the home-cooking. Down the hallway there are mahjong rooms, and a large portion of the ladies split off after lunch to go and make a pound or two on the mahjong tables. Every three or four months, there is a birthday party, and the already lively ambience of the Community Lunch is turned into a full on party, complete with balloons.

If you’ve ever hankered after a slice of China in your backyard, the Community Lunch gives you just that and more; you’ll go for the delicious (and cheap) food, and stay for the high spirits of everyone around you. Plus, all proceeds go to supporting the Centre in all the brilliant work they do.

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