Lunch in The Flying Pan was depressing. I had looked at the menu in Central before, but decided it was too expensive and headed elsewhere. I should have done the same this time. But needing a quick meal, I decided to stick things out.
Sunk in one of the leather chairs, I scrolled through the menu and was struck again by how expensive everything was. Even the most basic omelettes were over sixty dollars. Surely frying a couple of eggs in a pan couldn’t produce anything that amazing that it warranted this kind of price? The fried breakfasts were even more, mostly topping the hundred mark and reaching up to the same kind of prices you’d pay for finely cooked French food elsewhere.
I was loathe to spend more than about fifty dollars on lunch and I really needed a coffee as well, so I searched onwards, determined to find something cheaper. A burger for HK$37 looked promising, but then I realised I’d need to order a whole load of extra ingredients to make it even vaguely interesting. Finally I settled reluctantly for a breakfast burrito. At big wrap stuffed with beans and rice and cheese could be pretty good, I naively persuaded myself.
“The breakfast burrito is just eggs and beans,” the Filipino waitress said when I ordered. “You want to get some bacon or something to go with that?”
It’s always a bad sign when the waitress is telling you openly about the limitations of the restaurant’s food. I should probably have backed out at this point. But a little like George Bush in Afghanistan, I was strangely determined to press recklessly onwards without heeding how much damage I was doing.
Coffee has been the main reason I came here, so I hoped this would at least be decent. But the only variety on offer was a ‘bottomless’ pot of drip coffee. At $30, this cost more than the best coffee in most of Hong Kong’s other cafes. Basically I was going to pay extra for the chance to drink unlimited amounts of coffee that would probably turn out to be so watery and weak I’d only want half a cup. I ordered it and felt my heart sinking.
The burrito came quickly. I’d love to say this was testament to the chef’s dexterity for Mexican cooking, but more likely it was credit to the power of the microwave. It was barely bigger than a Mars bar. Its wrap was reasonably crisp, but inside there was just a mixed up past of canned beans, rubbery egg and plastic cheese which stretched with each bite. None of it really tasted of anything much at all. It arguably had more flavour than the coffee, though, which tasted like somebody had taken a regular cup of instant coffee and just diluted it five or six times. There was none of that bracing, bitter taste of really strong dark coffee that I had been craving all morning.
I grimaced and sat back in my chair, feeling truly miserable as I listened to the hardcore club music pounding out of the restaurants many speakers. Staffed entirely by Fillipino’s, filled with lost looking gwei-los, and blaring these tunes, The Flying Pan feels very like the different Wan Chai nightclubs that surround it. But in the middle of the day on a Saturday, this might not be what you’re really looking for while you eat lunch.
There are reasons to go to The Flying Pan. If you’re a tourist who gets lost if you stray more than a hundred yards from your hotel, or if you’re desperate for something to eat at five in the morning after stumbling out of the bars in Wan Chai, then perhaps you’d consider it. In these situations, you won’t mind paying stupidly high prices for plastic food and impotent coffee. Otherwise its probably best to stay away.