Saturday, 21 November 2009

Dim Sum - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

I usually do enjoy giving my two cents (pennies?) worth of constructive criticism of the food I eat and the places I eat at but this time round there will be nothing constructive to say about Chuen Cheng Ku. It was an utter waste of a meal and money.

Restaurant Interior - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

Stuart and I usually end up at Royal China for dim sum, mainly because it's an invitation by one of my uncles and really .. who would turn down Royal China dim sum? It's good and fairly consistent. If it's just the two of us, it's usually a restaurant in Chinatown and even though I had hoped to try Harbour City on this particular day, we gravitated towards Chuen Cheng Ku - loved by my father for its trolley service and his continued ambition to fill every square inch of the table, if possible, with every dish available from every trolley. This time my father was safely tucked several thousands of miles away in Malaysia but Stuart and I were horrendously hungry and wanted food NOW! Chuen Cheng Ku seemed like the obvious choice.

Har Kau - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

We had barely sat down when the first of trolley waitresses came thundering towards us - all good since we were starving but giving us a few minutes to settle down would have been .. well, nice. Alright, this is the "Chinese restaurant way" but it still annoys me. And so the usual hard sell of each dish began. Stuart left the choosing to me and I was harassed beyond belief. By the time the last trolley waitress had shown us her wares ... the first one reappeared. We hadn't even started to eat yet!

Siu Mai - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

The usual suspects - har kau and siu mai. It's an almost automatic order for me though I must admit they aren't my favourite dim sum dishes but they usually are a good indicator of how good the dim sum chef is. The har kau was alright- the skin was just thick enough and the prawns were fresh and crunchy. The siu mai was a disappointment. There were large bits of fat and gristle from the pork. Ergh.

Xiao Long Bao - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

I love my Xiao Long Bao but find that so many places just can't get it right. Chuen Cheng Ku is one of them. There was no pipping hot broth in any of the dumplings. All were bone dry with bits of fat and gristle in the filling.

Char Siu Cheong Fun - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

The noodle wrapping for the Char Siu Cheong Fun was acceptable but there was more barbecue roast fat in the filling than pork.

Beancurd Rolls - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

Another favourite of mine are Steamed Beancurd Rolls. Here they were filled with chopped up bits of prawns and pork and pork gristle and pork fat. Do we spot a trend here? Ok I know fat and gristle is commonly used to bulk up all sorts of stuffing - sausages, burgers ... anything that is minced, chopped and reformed. But I do mind terribly when I can so blatantly taste and feel it in my mouth. Horrible bits that should be cut (ground, minced, obliterated!) smaller or really shouldn't be there at all.

Aubergine Stuffed with Prawn Paste in Black Bean Sauce - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

Aubergine Stuffed with Prawn Paste in Black Bean Sauce was done rather well. It was one thing that I hadn't anything to moan about.

Char Siu Puff - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

Char Siu Puff - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

The pastry for the Char Siew Puff was too sweet and tasted overwhelming of cheap margerine. Again there was so much fat in the filling. Bulk it up, bulk it up with fat!

Roast Duck - Chuen Cheng Ku, Chinatown

In true boy style, Stuart wanted meat. He was looking longingly at the siew yoke from the roast meat trolley but as I dislike roast pork, we settled for roast duck. I'm not sure how much there was on the plate - definitely more than a quarter and less than a half. They like to pick and choose what they give you and heaven forbid if you dare question them! Duck is a fatty meat, I know that (and so is pork ... I know that too) but this dish came dripping in oil. Not the best roast duck I've had.

It was a filling lunch, if not a very good one, with enough food to feed three at least. What surprised me was the bill. I've always considered Chuen Cheng Ku to have one of the cheaper dim sum menus but on this fateful day I discovered (noticed) they do not publish their dim sum prices anywhere. Not on the laminated dim sum menu on each table, not on the large menu by the window outside and most definitely not on the sheet each waitress ticks when a dish is handed over. By counting the dishes and a simple process of elimination, we discovered we were charged £8-9 for the duck, about £6 for the stuffed aubergine (for 2 pieces?????) and about £3.50 each for other dishes, bringing the whole meal to a grand total of £40 for the both of us. I found this outrages! The quality was poor and the service was horrendous (but I always expect bad service in a Chinese restaurant anyway ... it's some kind of mode I go into when I step into a Chinese eatery). The number of dishes added up, so we paid and left. I was in no mood to ask questions about the bill. The staff were already having a squabble between themselves when we left. What I did do was check the prices on the menus of about six other restaurants on Gerard Street, including Harbour City where I had originally planned on going to. All six had a price list of their dishes and none had such high prices. Staples such as har kau and siew mai were priced somewhere between £2.90 to £3.10. I was just having a look at the photos I took of the dim sum menu at Pearl Liang - har kau for £2.80 and siew mai for £2.50. Chuen Cheng Ku is a rip off with bad food and service. I will definitely be steering my father well away from it on his next trip to London.


Paprika said...

I hate having bad dim sum. What they lack in bulk is supposed to be made up in taste right? So whats the point of eating small bamboo steamers of crap! I hear you sister!

p.s/ Joy King Lau is my favourite dim sum place in Chinatown. Last trip the three of us ate to our hearts content and paid less than 10 quid each. Mind you, we didn't have duck. See you soon!

Luscious Temptations said...

I don't believe it! I just checked out Joy King Lau's website and the har kau is going for £2.30. That's like a whole £1.20 cheaper than Chuen Cheng Ku! I feel so ripped off .. 2nd wave. I'm going on a dim sum rampage when I'm in KL.

Talking about ripped off though, I was at Royal China the other day and had the prawn and chive dumplings .. lots of chive but ... no prawn!!!! Well, at least no grissle.

Rafleesia said...

I feel so traumatised reading this post...what a nightmare. Dad and us went to The Ming Room for dim sum over the weekend and it was superb! Also found another dim sum place near my house (well, PJ anyway) that is excellent too. We must go when you're back.