The Pink Giraffe, Oxford: August 2016
Simple, tasty and with over twenty vegetarian options.
How many Chinese food establishments do you walk past and think “wow, what an appealing place to eat – I must bring my parents here!”. I know, very few. The Pink Giraffe in Oxford gave that same impression, but when inside, oh my – how wrong I was.
Extremely hospitable staff greeted my party of four with big smiles and welcoming words. We were made to feel like the most important people in the restaurant!
Whilst many similar restaurants have that same lifeless, tiring look about them it is the staff and food inside that bring these places to life. I have found many of my most enjoyable eats to be in the underrated restaurants – normally family-run with the chef out the back who has worked there all their life. These places make me tick. They excite me. They remind me that tasty food doesn’t always come from Michelin starred restaurants, headed by a bad-tempered egomaniac.
We sat in a small, simple setting and we were treated with respect and grace. The menu was a typical one with no surprises – just what we wanted. There was an option to an all-you-can-eat style ordering system, where you pay a set price and order what dishes you like – the catch was, however, any left overs on the plate would incur a fiscal penalty. So keep your eyes smaller than your belly! The other ordering option was to order dishes from the main menu.
One interesting point to make is that for every meat-containing dish there was almost always a vegetarian option. This unique extra makes it a place to be enjoyed by meat and non-meat lovers.
Like a moth to a flame, I ordered the crispy squid, amongst others. We all shared around the table and the overall mood was that of surprise. How can it all taste so good? The food looked fresh and was flavoursome. So many Chinese restaurants serve the same dishes, so when you eat at a good one, you know it – and boy did we!
The mains were just as satisfying. My advice would be not to pig out on the starters, as I did, as it doesn’t leave much room for a main – I just about managed it, just! The food was served simply, no focus on height or imagination, just basic.
The service was rapid, but not so quick that the thought of the microwave pinging came to mind. Drinks were served in ice-cold glasses – it was all very enjoyable.
Once you get past the exterior and lower your standards of presentation, this restaurant is jolly good fun. Great food, served with plenty of smiles. It is the ideal place for friends to eat after uni, or families wanting a laid-back evening where the focus is on company and enjoyment.
Cost: less than £20 with an alcoholic beverage. Not including an optional tip and further drinks.