Nestled unassumingly in the centre of busy Albert Road, Southsea, and with a rather unoriginal name like My Bar and Eatery, you would be forgiven for thinking this is just another run-of-the-mill restaurant.
And that’s where you would be wrong.
Amid the countless Southsea restaurants serving international cuisine, My Bar and Eatery offers a varied selection of pan-Asian food – that is food not specifically from one country in Asia – but with a personal touch.
My dining companion and I visit the restaurant late on a Tuesday evening. Like the rest of the street, on this particular night it is quiet and we are the only customers.
Usually this would be cause for alarm but it is the day after a bank holiday and we assume everyone else similarly over-indulged over the weekend.
Inside, the eatery is small but not cramped. An impressive bar takes up most of one of the walls with a large variety of spirits and wines on display. Across from the bar the other wall is decorated with a collage of newspaper clippings from across the years and across the globe – we spot one from The News.
So far, this does not scream Western Asian food. But the menu speaks for itself. Much of it is taken up with tapas, which at £14 for three dishes or £23 for five, is really good value.
There are also main meals ranging from ribeye steak teriyaki to kung po tofu bean curd. And to accompany there is a selection of noodles, rice and vegetables.
When we arrive at My Bar & Eatery the only waiter – who we presume is also the owner – greets us and lets us choose a table. After giving us a chance to browse the drinks menu he recommends the Tsingtao lager, which we both decide to try.
It is a light, refreshing beer and reminds me of Chang – a lager you can find in Thailand and many Thai restaurants in the UK.
We are both keen to try the tapas to start. As I am a vegetarian we opt for three of the meatless choices. Unfortunately this evening the tempura vegetables and mango salad are both unavailable.
Instead we order the tofu in chilli and salt and curry egg rolls. The waiter offers us vegetable wontons, which are not on the menu, and we happily accept.
Each dish is served on a bed of salad with different dipping sauces. They are all delicious, however, they are also all fried so we do feel like we need something healthier as a main.
For me the tofu in chilli and salt is the standout as it is crisp and tasty.
Since the tapas was quite filling we decide to share a main. We order the tao pan chilli aubergine (£8) and the coconut milk rice (£3.20).
But the waiter suggests that aubergine in a black bean sauce – also not on the menu – is better and offers to make the Singapore noodles (£9.90) vegetarian for us. So we order these instead.
The aubergine comes in a delicious sauce and is served with a mix of vegetables.
On its own this could be bland but with the Singapore noodles it works really well.
The noodles are ultra thin and are seasoned with spice and topped with crispy vegetables. I would happily go back to eat them on their own.
At the end of the meal we are extremely full. It didn’t seem like we ordered a lot because we shared, but each dish was a generous helping.
We both agree the Singapore noodles and the tofu in chilli and salt were the star dishes. It was great to try dishes that weren’t on the menu – without them our meal would have been a lot different.
We agree to go back another time to see what else My Bar and Eatery has to offer.
My Bar & Eatery, Albert Road, Southsea
Tel: (023) 9217 9448
Ratings (out of five):