Friday, 12 July 2013 - 5:09pm

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Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 12/07/2013 - 5:09pm

In the time we've lived in Sawtell, we've only visited the Chinese restaurant at the top of the hill once, and my dear lady wife was so unimpressed that we haven't been back. Personally I can't recall having any strong feelings about the meal at all, which suggests it was fine but not spectacular. I've heard other people rave about this restaurant. Though as I say I can't remember, I would hazard a guess that the food would have to be more authentically Chinese than Nelson's cheerfully anglicised fare at the Sawtell Bowling Club. Which made me think that perhaps this is why my beloved was so unimpressed.

Perhaps there's a cuisine authenticity uncanny valley.

Perhaps my other half (whose best friend in high school was from Chinese-born restaurant-owning parents, and who therefore had ample opportunity to acquaint herself with the real thing from an early age) can accept shopping mall food court sweet and sour pork in the spirit in which it is intended, but finds something that falls just shy of authentic just a little ick.

I'm that way with doner kebabs. I have no idea whether it's authentic or not, but my gold standard for kebabs is Western Sydney. Perhaps it's just authentic Western Sydney.

I'm as happy as anybody, especially after consuming a few refreshing beverages, to have a few slivers of lukewarm mechanically-retrieved animal product with some squishy wet tomato slices, sweaty yellowing lettuce, and a generous squirt of Master Foods™ chilli sauce, wrapped in supermarket-grade lebanese bread, and pressed in a big jaffle iron until the bits that should be soft are crunchy and vice versa. But that is a whole different species of food experience to the crackling, glistening hunks of tender lamb, sliced from a blazing rotisserie with well-practiced ease, dropped still sizzling into fresh-baked bread, with lashings of tabouli and hummous, and a drizzle of garlic yoghurt sauce home-made that morning.

There is no shredded canary-yellow cheddar cheese to be found here. Ask for barbecue sauce and the proprietor would probably grab you by the lapels, haul you over the counter, out the back, and into a garbage skip. Quite rightly.

Needless to say, there is nothing like this to be had in Coffs Harbour. So the best kebab joints in town are if anything more disappointing than the worst. Just a little more appreciation of the sanctity of their craft would make all the difference. I really want to suggest to the staff that they have a work's outing to Auburn, but I'm too much of a coward. Emotions run high when it comes to food.