So much room for improvement
'This is the worst meal I've had in 50 years'
I'm always trying to find a silver lining in every restaurant I visit but this would have to be one of the most difficult I've ever come across to find one. Having made a booking for 7 pm with the family we are greeted by a packed restaurant with many people waiting outside. That's a good sign at first and upon entry we're led past the busy kitchen to the isolated first floor I didn't know existed — definitely not as nice as downstairs though. We are greeted by a small room with air con blasting cold, 4 sets of tables and sealed up windows overlooking Anzac Parade. As we settle in with menus the service leaves and we end up finding the air con control to turn it down and off but shortly it becomes too warm again so had to leave it on.
While ordering dumplings for the table we ask for chinese tea but are informed they've run out of tea — OMG, a chinese restaurant without tea — that's pretty bad in my books, and not a good start. They also had run out of Shanghai's Shallots Pancakes :-(. There's cold water on a side table which we had to get up to serve ourselves when service wasn't around. When the first lot of dumplings arrive we weren't given any plates or bowls to eat from which we noticed other tables complained about too. Most dumpling places like Sea Bay Dumplings provide a small dish to mix your soy sauce and chilli for dipping your dumplings. After lengthy delays we finally received some bowls we had to ask for which were unfortunately wet and needed to be dried with our table tissues. The BBQ Pork Buns were OK and pretty standard fare. The Shanghai's Steamed Mini Pork Buns were decent but lacked broth inside. I had the illusion that the Crystal Prawn Dumplings used Crystal Bay prawns, my mistake. They were actually tasty enough and used small prawn pieces inside with bamboo shoots I think. The Pan Fried Pork Dumplings had a good crispy base without being too burnt and were OK for the small price you pay.
The No. 1 Curry Chicken actually arrived before our pan fried pork dumplings and looked mysteriously very yellow. It sat on top of a little candle holder frame but the candle was not lit — we're thinking do we light it ourselves, do they light it? They never returned to light it and I actually think it might have gone out upon arrival. We relit it but it was a dodgy tealight candle with hardly any wick so was a big fat FAIL — with no practical heat for keeping the dish warm it seemed to be more just for show. I'd suggest a better flame source is required for any effect. Yang Zhou Fried rice arrived and didn't look anything like the menu picture — I forgot to take a photo. It was sadly too wok burnt and had an overly burnt taste — we should have perhaps complained but were already over this meal. Our Seafood Mix Bean Curd hot pot was next but the real lack of seafood was straight away evident. I immediately asked the waiter where's all the seafood as I stirred through the pot with my chopsticks revealing only small pieces of seafood extender — where's the prawns I asked? They took it back to the kitchen which later returned with no explanation of what had happened but now had small bits of prawns, calamari and more seafood extender — the taste was OK but there's definitely some confusion about what this dish should have been. Again it came with a non-lit tealight candle which didn't even light for some reason. Each of the hot pot dishes is served with a bowl of steamed rice and a very luke warm and unappetising house soup. The Mongolian Lamb is served on a sizzle hot plate which disappointingly is not served in it's usual 'sizzling' fashion — FAIL. The Chicken Soaked in Wine is served cold and has quite a distinct wine taste although not particularly interesting on the taste buds.
At the end of our dining experience my dad says the above opening quote to the table 'This is the worst meal I've had in 50 years' which pretty much sums up everyone else's feelings about the night — a real sad comedy of errors and misfortunes it seemed, like a Fawlty Towers Chinese restaurant. I think this restaurant is really trying to do too much with their menu and is falling short on delivering a quality product and perhaps should concentrate and specialise on the dumplings and do them really well. Before leaving I did a quick check of the toilet which looked clean at first glance but on closer inspection it only provided a cake of soap rather than soap dispenser and a single hanging hand towel which looked quite wet and dirty — they really need to upgrade this pronto as I'm sure this violates some sort of health regulation? I noticed the ever so popular Kingsford Chinese Restaurant wasn't as popular due to possibly all these new restaurants in the area attracting customers but in hindsight they would have been a much better option tonight.
PROS: Very cheap but be wary on what you order (I'd focus on the dumplings); Homemade dumplings
CONS: Overcrowding of tables downstairs; Lack of table service when seated upstairs and no bowls and plates provided until asked; Chinese tea wasn't available; Only cake of soap and no hand dryer or paper towels provided in toilet; Very average main dishes
MUST TRY: Somewhere else
House soup served with hot pot
Ineffective tealight candle for hot pot
Only cake of soap and single hand towel available in toilet
Dumpling kitchen station
View to upstairs room