“This is suffocating” I said to the waiter “please can we eat outside?”
“seriously I’d rather sit and eat on the pavement. I can’t stand it” escaping outside.
“The fan’s blown a fuse!“shouted the owner Raj.
“That’s my cousin” said Raj.
As locals walked by, they tapped his hand, clapped his shoulder, yelled hi from across the road. Everybody knew him. Hot Stuff has been there 25 years, with his mum behind the stove at the beginning.
“We were going ten years before Time Out did a review. Then it exploded. Everyone came. The F word are coming down soon.”
“Is that pilao?” I asked Raj.
“But it’s not acid yellow, red and green?”
“This is the real pilao rice” stated Raj.
“Yo!” a moody voice called, completely unfazed by the fact that a strange woman was answering “I want chicken”
“Who is it?”
“It’s Senz. I’ll be there in five minutes for my chicken”
“In Kenya, where I come from, people just drive up in their cars, grab their dinner and eat it in their car”
“What are your hours here?” I ask
“Six days a week. Dinner is two sittings, seven and nine. It’s hard work you know. Only Sunday off. That’s why the wife left. No time for her” he confesses.
“What’s the most important quality you need to run a restaurant?” I probe
“To be here. To turn up!” laughs Raj “No, mostly you just need to like people”
Hot Stuff, 19 Wilcox Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 (020 7720 1480)