A Meal Out – Kim Wah
Now this may come as a shock, but the restaurant we went to tonight to celebrate Renee’s second birthday was Chinese. Now Chinese is my most favouritist food of all time, a delicacy I spent a lot of time getting to know and savour while in the Navy and up in Asia. While most of the guys used to go into town and eat at European-styled Asian restaurants and take out, I made my way into the back streets and alleys and into food courts to get the ‘real taste’. As one man told me in Hong Kong, “only eat where the locals eat. If full of Chinese, must be good.” Fair enough, and that has stuck with me since.
Anyway, some of my Asian travels and experiences will come in future posts, this is a review on a new restaurant in Southbrook (basically a part of Rangiora) – it is tacked onto “The Brew House” (formerly The ‘Brook for those of us playing rugby 20 years ago) and I made a point of telling Katie we must go and try it out as there is no (decent) Chinese within cooey here. So today, as we do, we ate out on a birthday, and I admit I was surprised to see anything open on Good Friday (I believe everything should be open, or everything closed on a religious holiday, there’s too much ambiguity).
Now to start off, the place is pleasant inside, although still harbours remnants of the pub-style setup with Speights Clydesdales all over the walls mixed with the newer waving cats and paper-lanterns = weird ambience. A sign at the door advises that meals are ordered at the bar, and must be paid for in advance, different, maybe I see a point in it, but it is a policy that will hurt the business somewhat as people cannot be bothered to go back and pay for more drinks – as it was, we all had one whereas we would normally have two or three with dinner. I ordered orange juices for the three girls and my obligatory spiced tomato juice – the orange juice came from a plastic Kerri bottle – while I have no issues with this, when you eat out, it puts a damper on seeing a bottle of juice costing less than the glass they serve you! Drinks were delivered, and my tomato juice was not spiced!!! What is it with these restaurants (read Capone’s)? Maybe this is a CHCH thing? The waitress almost redeemed herself, she brought me the salt and pepper to my table explaining “for your spice”…is she fucking kidding?!? Not a good start. So we ordered from our menus, writing our own orders onto a sheet (by numbers, as any good Chinese restaurant does) and delivered it to the bar as ordered. We ordered Won Tons (always a good indicator of decent food), Chicken & Cashews, Sweet & Sour Pork (Katie’s given), Combination Fried Rice, and Singapore Noodles (my fave, my area of expertise).
The Won Tons came, and there were ten, and they were big! And nice!! Even Dee and Renee ate theirs. Best Won Tons I remember in ages, made me wish I had another perennial fave, Won Ton Soup. Next came the chicken, rice, noodles and pork served up in the middle to pick from – all were very big servings, and we realised we had eyes bigger than our stomachs, but we made an effort.
The Chicken & Cashews were divine – Chicken nice and tender, nuts real firm, and the veggies (as they must always be) crunchy. Yum! I was impressed. The rice was just as good, and had a smell which I can only describe as an “Asian Chargrill” and whenever I smell that I know I am in the right restaurant, and the rice didn’t disappoint. I think if there was a criticism of it, maybe a bit more meat and veggies, but more than sufficient as a meal alone. Unfortunately the Singapore Noodles were a write off…they were dry as hell, and they had no taste, and even worse, no ‘kick’ to them.. I added Soy to it, which you shouldn’t need to do, to try to soften them up but it was a lost cause, and that irks me being my favourite meal. The Pork almost made up for this, I don’t mind it personally, it is more Katie’s choice, but this serving was good – the pork was a little dry, but it is the first pork I have tasted that was not gristly…I cannot remember a place here in NZ that has done this, so it was a pleasant surprise.
We had over estimated our appetites but we counted on getting doggy-bags, which they supplied, but we had to fill?! I never have had to do this before…I hope they didn’t hit us with a surcharge for staff?
So all in all, not bad at all – I went in expecting not much, and in some cases got that, but I was quietly surprised. Not close to Dumplings in town (or I am lead to believe, Joyful) but with the pricing and food, would be more than comfortable in going back with friends or getting take out.
Setting: 3.5 out of 5
Staff: 2.5 out of 5
Food: 4 out of 5
Value: 4 out of 5
Overall Score: 3.5 out of 5