Imagine waking up one day in the middle of lockdown and deciding that the solution to your woes is to sell prawns. Distant, drink-blurred memories of Portuguese beach evenings with grilled sardines, Bangkok street food sellers with sizzling woks, and prawns served in a carton with a wee plastic fork in a Chesapeake seafood shack rise up in your fog-bound brain and somehow merge to create a crazy plan.
This may not be exactly how Ginger Bistro's Simon McCance came up with the idea, but it sounds close enough.
That's because Simon lives at that point where the self-confidence needle brushes up against the dial's red zone and enters the "you're nuts" danger range.
The difference between him and the rest of us is his unwavering self-belief. This is the guy who opened a new restaurant with Simon Toye (the excellent Stove) during the five minutes last summer when restrictions were lifted. Now he's opened a prawn bar. What can possibly go wrong?
Well, for a start, people might not want to stand out on a rain-swept Great Victoria Street, one of the most miserable thoroughfares in the city, queueing to get into the only-five-allowed-inside Ginger Bistro, now converted into a takeaway counter.
People might be put off by the warning on the blackboard which tells people to eat the food immediately - it's not for taking home. And they might just say to themselves, forget the queue, let's get an Indian takeaway from New Delhi next door.
And yet again, he is right. Build it and they will come. After all, a simple menu almost entirely based on the prawn is a mouth-watering prospect and his reputation is solid. You think of Ginger Bistro and you think of squid. It's his signature dish. But if squid is his base camp, prawns are his summit.
The Prawn Bar's fried tiger prawn salads are luscious, generous and come in small bucketloads. His menu will change every Saturday and may grow to include duck and other dishes. But the prawn salads will hopefully be a fixture.
A fabulously rich, Asian-influenced, fresh ginger and cucumber salad with added heat from scallions and grated mouli, the Catherine Deneuve of the radish world, and the cooling effects of coconut, lime and coriander, provides a sumptuous bed for a generous mound of plump, crispy, tempura prawns.
Another salad with salt and chilli prawns comes with pineapple, carrot and lemongrass drizzle while a third features cumin salt, green beans, mangetout, chickpeas, yoghurt, lemon and garlic.
There's also a prawn cocktail to haul the seventies classic into the 21st century. This Thai-seasoned version comes with added crayfish and has all the creamy consistency of its predecessor but with more crunch, bite and spice.
Caulifower fritters with parmesan and truffle oil mayo add a welcome, deep-fried saltiness with a cracking, noisy breadcrumb shell. Hot and sour cabbage and skinny chips provide more eastern magic and bulk for those who need more carbs.
Risk has paid off
This is car food. There is nowhere else to eat it nearby. My daughter and I fall on our salads and sides, turning the radio up to drown out the chomping. The blend of delicate flavours, crunchy textures and spice is sublime and as we listen to the music I look at the pot of chips. They seem a bit wrong amid the bright natural colours of the raw produce. But we get stuck in anyway. Car food without chips would be a different kind of sin.
Chef McCance's dance on the edge where risk meets security has paid off. Nobody else is doing this and even though he operates the takeaway for only a few hours every Saturday afternoon, it looks likely that he may extend the offer.
And the food is fine to take home. We did when we couldn't stand the sound of each other's chomping any more.
Thai prawn cocktail. £7.50
Prawn salad with Catherine Deneuve. £7.50
Cauliflower fritters. £3
Hot & sour cabbage. £1.70
Skinny chips. £2.50
THE PRAWN BAR, Ginger Bistro, Great VIctoria Street, Belfast, (Saturday 12-4pm)