This restaurant group was in the news recently for tempering with the gas meters in 13 of their restaurants. The news caught my eye as I had recently visited the outlet at West Gate twice in two weeks due to a 25% promotion. This restaurant is famous for the flavoured xiao long bao. A few years ago, my friend treated me to this restaurant at Ion and we had a fun time trying to identify the different tastes. While we had a good time there, all I remember was the arrogant waitress who refused to let us into the restaurant until all of us were present, even though my friend was there earlier to get a queue number. I decided then I shan’t ever patronise the restaurant again.
Our first visit to the outlet at West Gate was a totally different experience. There was no queue and the friendly waitress who showed us to our table was easy-going as I tried the different geographical locations of the restaurant to avoid the full blast of the air-conditioning.
On our first visit, we ordered one basket of eight colourful dumplings xiao long baos ($13.80) to share, drunken chicken, La mien with minced meat (zha jiang mien) ($15.60) and a plate of pan-fried meat bun Bee wanted. We enjoyed the meal although I couldn’t taste the flavours in the dumplings. The wine in the drunken chicken didn’t taste good, and Bee complained the meat bun wasn’t as flavourful as those she had eaten elsewhere. I made a complaint to the manager when I was paying about the dumplings and that’s when he pointed to me that to enjoy the flavoured dumplings, we must follow the order to eat.
So on my next visit, we decided to order one basket each. On top of that, we tried the chilled sliced pork ($7.80), sautéed french beans with minced meat (11.80), zha jiang mien, and la mien with sliced pork ($9.80).
This time, we enjoyed every dish.
The chilled sliced pork has the right amount of garlicky heat and I like the thinly sliced cucumbers that is rolled in between. My zha jiang mien is comparable to my favourite restaurant, although at more than double the price, and I would have preferred more garnish cucumber, which I believe they would obliged if ask, since they brought us an extra generous dish of sliced ginger. The fried french beans were crunchy without being oily.
And for the dumplings? We enjoyed trying to guess each colour. Following the order of eating makes the flavour easier to identify. They were not over powering, except for the ending one, pink szechuan dumpling which made us choked. The rest of the flavours were subtle, with just a tinge to tease the taste bud.
Our bill on the second night would have totaled $105 if not for the 25% discount, a hefty sum for three of us, which makes going to this restaurant a treat only for that special occasion in future.