Peninsula Chinese Restaurant
You’ll probably have read this elsewhere (Rob over at greenwich.co.uk has a particularly repulsive photo) but the Peninsula Chinese Restaurant in the Holiday Inn building has been fined £54,000 (plus £2,600 costs) and its owners have been banned from running restaurants in Greenwich’s biggest-ever breach of food hygiene (well, biggest that’s ever been caught.)
It’s all a far cry from about ten years ago when I remember friends of mine raving about the place, saying it was the only Chinese restaurant worth going to in the area, it was so authentic,everybody loves it, yada, yada. And they weren’t the only ones – there were queues outside the restaurant of a Sunday lunchtime for the dim sum.
I confess that the only time I went I had a series of dishes consisting of flabby white goo, but I just assumed that that was because I’d either ordered badly or that I didn’t like it because I’m not a huge fan of Chinese food (I eat it, but it’s not my first choice.) But I saw those queues. They were real. At some point this was a destination. And I’m sure I’ve seen queues recently too.
Were the conditions that bad all along? Perhaps the management changed. Certainly they seem pretty unrepentant – they have been fined several times before and pleaded guilty on this one. Mind you it would have been hard to do anything else. Mouse droppings everywhere from the floor to near plates, cling film and even food. Lack of hand washing facilities. A build-up of grease under the cookers. Mouldy vegetables on the floor of the walk-in fridge. They were bang to rights.
And yet Rob tells me that last weekend they were still open. Presumably the lucrative Chinese New Year celebrations made it worth flouting the ban.
It’s pretty easy, I understand, for the owners of banned restaurants to just set up a new company in a different name, shift the assets across and start up again. And although for you and me the fine sounds pretty enormous, for them it’s pretty small. I suppose that if they were to start up again under a new name, the slate would be clean and they could start collecting hygiene breaches from scratch.