The man who ate Lincoln Rd thought it was really just a matter of collecting the set when I ducked into a couple of food joints on Thursday afternoon.
I wasn't expecting much from Happy Snappa Takeaways and I was kind of dreading Subway, but they marked food joints number 40 and 41 on my quest to eat at all 53 food joints on that street which I have come to know better than my own family.
Happy Snappa is in the block of shops opposite Waitakere Hospital. It's modest. It's got a table and a chair. The lino is torn, and there's a crack in the wall. The couple behind the counter worked in grim silence; there are some shocking reviews on Zomato about their customer service, but also some glowing references to the food.
I did my best to strike up conversation with a witty opening line. I asked Tong Chun Young, "How long have you been in business?"
He said, "Ten year."
I said, "Ten years, eh?"
He said, "Yeah. Ten year."
Then I busted out another zinger, and asked, "Where were you before that?"
He said, "Hong Kong."
I said, "Hong Kong, eh?"
He said, "Yes. Hong Kong."
I was plainly boring him to death. At least the hospital was close. I ordered chips ($2.30) and the "Snappa fish" ($4.30), which he confirmed was fresh snapper, and a can of Sprite. It was excellent. The chips were long and firm, and the fish was so good that it actually ranks as one of the very best things I've eaten on Lincoln Rd all year. It tasted of summer. It tasted of blue skies and the deep blue sea and happiness, which is blue.
The beautiful tongue-coating blue taste of the fish swam in my mouth as I plodded towards Subway - the small Subway at the Lincoln Centre stripmall, not the big Subway near Burger King. I reviewed it in episode 15, and concluded: "Boring." But I didn't go into any detail, and my good friend Karl Puschmann emailed and asked me to explain myself.
I wrote to him, "There's something missing in a Subway, even a 12-inch with meatballs. What is it? Why are they always disappointing? What, exactly, is the lack - is it a feeling, something indefinable? Why isn't it as essentially righteous as a burger?"
His reply was a masterpiece of food writing. He wrote, "Once again you are on the money. I've pondered this very thing on many an occasion.
"The fault lies in the rolls themselves. They're pumped full of air and broken promises.
"I go for the Italian bread, right. It's got herbs and cheese on it. Pretty good. They pull it out of the warmer and it's full and inflated. It looks good. But as soon as they cut into it the horrible truth is revealed - there's simply nothing there!
"All that said I still went twice this week and agree with the 7/10 rating."
I remembered his words as I walked into the smaller Subway. It shares premises with Dunkin' Donuts, which does the best coffee on Lincoln Rd - a cup of regular, which tastes just as good as filter coffee.
I took my cup, and a Bavarian Kreme doughnut, to a table in front of the Subway board, and put a lot of thought into ordering something that might get around the fact that the bread roll is so boring.
The meatballs hadn't worked last time. I realised they were too weak; the bread defeated the meatball army with its surrounding boringness. It did what I almost achieved with Tong Chun Young: it bored it to death.
What was needed, I calculated, was a filling that fought back. It needed to vanquish the bread roll, storm its boring barricades with the majesty and cunning of its composition.
I got to work. I ordered the Subway of the day - a six-inch with pork riblet for $4.90. I got the garlic bread, toasted. I went for just three salad options - red onion, green pepper, cucumber - because too much would blunt the essential crunch. For sauce, I got a single strip of sweet chili sauce.
The result: a triumph. The filling rushed the bread before it could put up a boring fight. It took it down; it schooled the bread. The bread whimpered, and got into line. It became a secondary, willing partner to the crunch of the salad and the meatiness of the pork riblet and the zing of the sauce.
To the ratings: Happy Snappa: 8.8/10. Subway, the smaller one: 8.9/10.