As the title suggests, there’s a degree of ‘Watchdog’-esque sensationalism to Dr Suzannah Lipscomb’s hour-long programme – certainly more than we’re used to in most BBC4 docs, anyway. But there are also plenty of well-presented facts – on how arsenic-laced wallpaper made the living room a toxic hellhole, how corsets would make women’s livers slowly ridged like a Toblerone or how gas cookers and electric lightbulbs would make for unhappy roommates.
A Chinatown stalwart, the New Mayflower is a cavernous venue, set over two floors and several rather small rooms. The red-carpeted, white-walled interior is drab and could use a little updating. Nevertheless, the kitchen is capable of producing Cantonese cuisine to a high standard, if you know what to order. Sadly, a certain proportion of diners here (tourists wafting over from Piccadilly Circus) do not, and are nudged towards the lacklustre set meals. A dish of succulent clams with a mild chilli and salty black bean sauce was the star of our meal. We also enjoyed a home-style steamed minced pork patty, studded with water-chestnuts and topped with salted egg. Emperor chicken, ordered from the menu written only in Chinese, was fine, but the accompanying ginger and spring onion sauce lacked salt. Finally, a plate of stir-fried water spinach was too oily and contained no trace of the fermented beancurd sauce we requested. The generous portions resulted in plenty of our dinner being boxed up and taken home. On our weekday visit the restaurant was packed, causing cramped seating conditions and leading to inattentive service. We’ve had such problems here before.
Venue says: “One of Chinatown's original venues, serving traditional Cantonese and Peking dishes, daily dim sum, handmade cheung fun and BBQ meats.”