You guys know about my love for Hong Kong-style diners right? The food is never that great, but it’s always cheap and plentiful. The ambiance and service might not be fantastic, but it’s always efficient and designed to get you in and out as fast as possible. Most importantly, they always evoke a sense of nostalgia for me, and I tend to reflect back to primary school days when my father used to pick me up from school and take me to a diner for afternoon tea. Special daddy-daughter time as it were.
I always thought the Hong Kong diner was a unique concept – at least until we visited Vidlicky A Noze in Prague. While it’s technically a ‘proper’ restaurant offering a full menu of traditional Czech dishes, most of the locals who visit order off their menu of five or six daily specials, all priced under $6 AUD a dish.
Like in a Honky diner, we watched groups and individuals all enter, order quickly after a quick glance at the specials, get served their meal in under five minutes, eat in under ten minutes, and then pay and leave. Done and dusted in under half an hour. Quick and efficient, the Cantonese way.
We took a bit longer though, and lingered for a while over the menu as we needed the waitress to translate the specials (written in Czech only) into English for us! While we perused the menu, we had some drinks to start – a Homemade Lemonade with Mint for me, and Homemade Lemonade with Elderflower for K. For some reason, K’s lemonade was carbonated and subsequently more refreshing, while mine was particularly flat and a bit too sweet on the palate. I’m not sure why they were made differently!
We decided to ignore the main menu and copied the locals in ordering off the specials. I chose the Grilled Pork Steak, served with caramelised onions, gravy and french fries for only $5 AUD. A real bargain, and surprisingly delicious though not particularly nutritious. The pork was nice and tender with a smoky grilled flavour, the onions were sweet and the crunchy fries were delicious dipped in the salty gravy. A real comfort meal.
K’s was a little less inspiring – Chicken in Paprika with Pasta. The chicken pieces were a little dry and overdone, and the sauce lacked that true paprika heat. Not quite the dish he hoped for, but that’s the risk you run with the cheap daily specials! He should have figured it out from looking at what the locals were eating though. Plenty of them had chosen my dish, but no one else seemed to have chosen the pasta. When in doubt, follow the local choices!
Feeling guilty about the number of carbs and rich sauces we had consumed with our meals, we ordered some Grilled Vegetables to share to vary our diet slightly. Not quite as nice as the ones that K had ordered at Atmosphere Cafe Pub, these vegetables hadn’t been grilled quite enough. For example, the sweetness hadn’t really come out of the capsicum properly – an extra minute on the grill could have brought it out!
We finished off our meal by sharing the Homemade Strawberry Dumplings, served with cottage cheese, strawberry coulis and powdered sugar on top. It was a surprisingly large serve – definitely a dessert best shared between two people. These dumplings were delicious though, kind of like a cross between delicious soft but dense brioche, but with the syrupy goodness of Greek loukamades. With a poached strawberry inside each dumpling simply oozing sweet syrup, you really can’t go wrong!
While you can order typical Czech dishes like duck confit, goulash or roast pork at Vidlicky A Noze, you shouldn’t. If you want to eat like the locals, you need to order from their simple daily specials menu. Food is cheap and plentiful, and if you order by referring to what others are ordering, you can’t go wrong! Not one to rush to when in Prague, but worth dropping in if you like cheap and cheerful meals.
Vidlicky A Noze is located at 93/11 Vodni in Prague, Czech Republic.