My friend checked out reviews here and thought the hi-tea buffet should be pretty good for a rather cheap price of $11.80++. Hence, she suggested that we come try out the place. Dumplings (饺子), xiao long bao and noodles are ordered ala carte from an order chit. Other appetizers, soup, dessert and some dim sum were placed on a buffet table for self-service.
Surprisingly, I'm in a rather good zen-like mood today (something that's not so frequent, as my husband might attest to apparently), so I was calmly analyzing each dish carefully. But boy oh boy, my dining companion was about to explode. We heard rave reviews about the xiao long bao, so the first thing we did was to order that once we sat down at our table at around 3 pm. We waited, waited and waited...until the xiao long bao finally came after one hour's wait.
During that time, we brought up the issue repeatedly with two waitresses. What made it worse was that all the other tables around us had their xiao long bao served up long before us. Hey, we were definitely one of the first to order the xiao long bao! In fact, within 5 minutes of us sitting down, xiao long bao was being served out to the rest of the diners. We would have been more appeased if the staff admitted their fault of missing out on our order instead of insisting that the order will be coming up soon.
I gave a 2/5 star for the service, as I was feeling forgiving. The fault probably lies with the first waitress who took our order. Granted, another waitress (PRC) we pointed the issue to was very apologetic and did help to check on the kitchen frequently. My friend told me she would have given a 1/5 star rating instead for the service. 0.8 for the PRC lady, 0.2 for the second waitress who glanced over once at our table to check.
Talking about the xiao long bao, it's definitely over hyped. The skin is quite thin and there's a fair bit of soup that oozes out from each xiao long bao. But the soup broth is only normal broth made from soy sauce and there's no sweetness of pork that I'm expecting and no depth to the broth. The pork within the bao was mushy and the amount given was too little, resulting in the xiao long bao being a bit flat. Definitely not up to standard.
- Lacklustre xiao long bao
Moving on to the other ala carte stuff from the order chit:
Pork and cabbage Jiaozi came cold. Could not tast the shrimp inside the shrimp, pork and chive jiaozhi. The pork in the jiaozhi is the same mushy kind used for the xiao long bao. They should improve on the quality of the pork used.
Noodles came in small single-bowl servings, but it's still best to share one bowl of noodles among 2.
The zhajiang noodles was too dry, the minced pork topping tasted ok but was not fantastic.
Beijing-styled braised noodles contained egg slices, bamboo shoots and shredded black fungus - tasted ok.
Spicy beef noodles soup was quite nice, the beef itself nicely braised and tender. Soup base slightly 麻辣
Noodles for all three were the same, I find it to be a little too soft for my liking.
For the self-service items from the buffet table:
Sliced pork with garlic slice was not bad, the sauce is sweetish and fragrant with the garlic. Pork were sliced thinly and had a mixture of lean meat and fat.
Sliced beancurd skin with peppercorns - Too salty, not recommended.
Stewed peanuts - Normal stuff, ok as well.
Seaweed vermicelli with bean sprouts - Quite appetizing and crunchy for the seaweed.
Braised mushrooms - The only really above-average item here. Braised very well until it's tender, in a tasty sauce.
Hot and sour soup was too spicy - even for someone like me who can take spice. There's definitely too much pepper added to it, which is a pity else it might have tasted ok.
Special fried pancakes - The fried pastry tasted really like roti prata. Cannot taste much of the spring onion or chives filling inside.
Spring rolls were crispy but I do not like that they added mixed vegetables (tasted like the frozen kind) into the filling.
Steamed custard buns - Tasted ok, custard's smooth. Luckily the bun's not too big.
Siew Mai - Quite horrible, everything tasted mushy, the skin and the pork.
Guotie - Surprisingly still pretty good even though they were offered at the buffet table and not by order. But you gotta be fast as they get wiped out real quickly. Skin was thin and amount of meat inside quite generous, pan-fried to a nice crisp on one side.
Desserts offered: Hot red bean soup and almond longan with fruits. Tasted normal, nothing special. I could not taste the almond in the almond jelly.
I realize that the last review for their buffet was about 6 months ago. Has their standard dropped so drastically since then? The previous reviews for the buffet were all favorable. My friend was actually very sorry and "paiseh" to have asked me along to try out the buffet. A really disappointing meal.
Date of Visit: 2013-01-17