I feel the pain of chefs who have to cook in open kitchens.
Being watched by customers while you work must be horrible.
Instead of sitting slack jawed and slumped, occasionally muttering to yourself, doodling, scratching and despairingly laying your head on the cool worktop/desk, you have to look merry and be self conscious about your hair.
They have it bad at this new restaurant, where there is usually someone stationed in the window, making dumplings, as if Tollcross is a foodie version of Amsterdam’s red light district.
We watched the cook in-situ for a while, with his surgical mask and pristine white apron on, preparing an assembly line of perfectly uniform dough circles, each powder puffed like a baby’s butt cheeks.
He’d stuff them with a pale pulpy mixture and expertly pinch the sides together, as if making a stegosaurus’s plates out of plasticine.
If you want to try this restaurant’s titular speciality, you can choose from a selection of boiled jiaozi, available in portions of seven or 14.
From ten varieties, we could have gone for mackerel, the al-desko sandwich-ish combination of egg and tomato, or the intriguing blend of carrot, vermicelli, black fungus and egg, but we tried smaller servings of cuttlefish (£6.50) and the pork, prawn and chive (£6.50) instead.
The porky bollards had a sausage-y and comforting centre, and were dyed green, with wrinkled skins like the fingers of someone who’s been in the bath too long.
While cuttlefish were suitably fishy, with Oreo-white centres and almost black skins, presumably coloured with the ink from every budgie’s favourite sea creature. We also liked the tangy vinegary soy dip on the side.
The authentic and extensive menu goes way beyond dumplings, so we tried a lot of different bits.
The “fried pork slices in Hunan style” (£9.50) was probably our favourite thing, with patches of thinly sliced meat, spring onions and a good garlic and chilli heat in the sauce.
Also, their pickled peanuts (£5), with Butlins-style red jackets still on, in a pool of vinegar and chopped onions, were addictive.
These legumes were ordered from the Cold Dishes section, which also lists the tempting proposition of “Anything with Special Sauce” (£7.80).
The noodles with pork mince and yellow bean sauce (£8) dish was, surprisingly to us, served cold, and consisted of sweet, sticky and yeastily salty meat, along with crunchy strands of cucumber on top of the stringy nest.
Another sugar rush was to be had with the “braised aubergine in Yuxiang style” (£8.50) – a huge portion, about five emojis worth, with fingers of this fruit in a lake of thick and dark sauce that was threaded with curd-like bean paste.
For all these sauces, glutinous white rice is required, and we got through three bowls (£2.50 each).
I think the griddle cooked beef tendon (£12.80), with spring onions, cauliflower florets, peppers and a shimmering amount of heat in the clear sauce, was an acquired texture, since the protein had that gelatinous and tripey collagen texture that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Anyway, we ended up with quite a lot of leftovers, but that’s also because the portions are absolutely massive here. After the feast, one of the lovely waitresses gave me a fortune cookie.
“Get rid of bad habits starting from Wednesday”, was the message inside, and that was my licence for three and a half days of utter debauchery.
First, we went in search of caffeine and cake nearby, at the new branch of Castello (7-8 Barclay Terrace).
It’s a great little cafe, with a layout that makes it feel like a tree house or gang hut.
On the mezzanine, we ate a lemon and coconut slice (£3), with buttery inch-high icing, and a millionaire’s shortbread (£3), which wedged caramel between my teeth and gave me a drift of crumbs down my sweatshirt.
I’m glad none of you will ever have to watch me at work.