SOGS Dinner at Sweet Mandarin

This year SOGS dinner took place on the 31-1-2010 at Sweet Mandarin in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.

History of S.O.G.S = Salford Office Gambling Syndicate. It is not as serious as the word Gambling actually mean.

During a time in the Salford Quays office, I started to run regular sweepstakes amongst my colleagues. It was an important talking point, was not about the money, but about togetherness and a bit of fun.

The topic can vary, anything from New Born Baby Weights, IT’s respond time, Football and other sporting events etc

In fact the syndicate is dead now, we have not had a sweepstake for years. People had somehow stop bothering and also some people has left us too.

What remain is the Annual Dinner? Our normal office Christmas party is often Chinese Food. I always complain that the food at these Christmas dinner is poor wherever we go. So every year, I organise an alternative Christmas dinner in Chinatown with me ordering from the “Chinese Menu”. This year the dinner was delayed to January because of the takeover in that we end up having two Christmas parties. Another one would just be too much colleagues bonding!

I chose Sweet Mandarin (Twitter @sweetmandarin) because they won the Gordon Ramsey F word Best local Chinese Restaurant award. I was hoping to attract more people to come. But for several reasons that it turned out to be the opposite.

Nevertheless the spirit should be there, which is very very very important to me. There was people who don’t really know what SOGS is and the importance of this gathering. The atomsphere was not as high as I wanted to be. But let the food do the talking!

A pre-dinner drink at the Printworks, before we slowly progressed to our table at Sweet Mandarin. I have not been there before and with my trusted guide (Google Map), we have find the vibrant restaurant in Northern Quarters. When I walked in, Helen (one of three sisters who own the restaurant) greeted me (and already  knew I am Simon). Then I said hello to Lisa too. I have been talking to them via Twitter, was nice to met them.

The restaurant was buzzing, so busy on that Friday night. The restaurant is decorated to a very high standard, very warm and the atmosphere was excellent.

I did the food ordering of course. Every time I try a new restaurant, I always try their signature dishes, and this time no different.

1) Mabel’s Claypot Chicken
2) Lily Kwok’s Curry Chicken
3) Buddha Golden Basket

The food was good but it is not as authentic as the food I had trained my colleagues to eat all these years. It was tasty don’t get me wrong, and I would probably go back but it is different from the true authentic Chinese (Cantonese more specifically) food you can order from the “Chinese Menu”. But this really deserves another blog to discuss.

Next year I am banning any partners, sorry but they dampen the atmosphere. It was only Andrew who were keeping to the spirit of SOGS.

Anyway after more food and drinks, it was the big event of the evening. The “Sweepstake” on the bill. In this, each person would bet £1 on the final value of the bills. Just two simply rules.

1) If you are over you are out
2) Everything including VAT (ie the biggest number on the bill)

SAME RULES every time, is it because of luck that I always  win? Although I am the one who ordered and everyone else thinks I have insider knowledge, sorry but I don’t. The reason must be I am just pretty good at guessing!

The bill was above 200, roughly £25 per head. Everyone had gone for below £20 per head, I am the only one on £20 per head. So I win once again! £7 pound better off woo hoo. I was hoping if I didn’t Andrew would, because he made great effort all night.

I have to say it was not as fun as last year, or the year before, or the year before before, or the year bbb bbbb …….. etc…

We rumbled over for more drinks around Northern Quarters and slowly lost everyone.

I think next year’s dinner, chicken feet, roast pig’s head, ginger & spring onion tripe, Beef entrails, Pig tongue, Duck gizzard, all have to return to satisfy my not so “gweilo” colleagues…