Driving down this end of Diagonal is pure folly. The urban planner on the project appears to have reasoned that drivers would only want to drive straight on and any right or left turns to be superfluous. Nine times out of ten, I get stuck in slow moving traffic trying to hang a left around the Glories shopping center. As a result, if I see a restaurant I want to visit is on this route, I quietly sweep it under the carpet.
Except this time. This time I couldn’t resist the images I had seen of squat xiaolongbao with twisted tops which are carriers of a meat and soup filling. And a comb-over of noodles with a thick carpet of something black and crumbly on top (what could that be?) and a shiny brown stew of sorts off to the side.
It’s this dish, in particular, I want to try even more than the xiaolongbao (my favourite so far are those at Fan Shoronpo). I decided to grin and bear the frustrating urban planning, park in an overpriced yet delapidated garage (street parking in this area also sucks).
There is not a lot happening in the streets around Uniko but Uniko itself is buzzing. The kitchen is upstairs, sending out metallic clangs and sizzles. Downstairs, heavy wooden dining chairs are clustered closely together so that if you get a table on the inside, you have to interrupt the meals of the people you must pass as they scrunch their seats in closer to the table. That’s if you’ve walked over the large bubble in the laminate flooring without tripping over it.
Efforts have been made to make the place likable. There is a string of Polaroid photographs of the dishes on a cork board. A clever adaptation to the usual laminated ringbound menu.
It’s the noodles I want. I show the waitress a picture of them on Instagram and it turns out they are just the house noodles (fideo casero lajiang 5.5€). I ask for the dumplings (4.5€), filled with pale pink pork meat and plenty of soup (I maintain my position on my favourite). A side dish of shredded cabbage (4.5€) fresh enough that we order a second. Smacked cucumbers (4.5€). And some wontons with plenty of greens (5.2€). Generous sized dishes, economically priced and with a lot of flavour.
I never do figure out what the black shaggy stuff is on the noodles, and forget to ask. But it makes for good eating (and so cheap), whatever it is.
C/ Load Castillejos 208