March 31, 2010

Clueless and incompetent

Pin It

I met up with two friends for dinner on short notice.  Although both of them are good friends whom I've known for years, dinner with the two of them together can be quite an affair.  SOP calls for Korean, and ordering way too much food so that we leave the restaurant totally stuffed.

We went to ChumChumMi, which was supposed to be Korean with a fusion bent.  The menu was extensive, and while there were many traditional-looking dishes, there were also a few which raised an eyebrow or two.  There were also a selection of "Korean Royal Cuisine" but honestly I didn't see anything special about the dishes.

This sorry excuse for a restaurant failed so badly right from the start, and the hole just kept getting deeper.  The whole restaurant was empty - we were the only table.  The staff decided that the three of us only needed 2 menus, so we had to ask for another one for me.

We spent some time choosing the dishes we wanted to order, and called over a waitress.  After listening to us ordering three dishes, she turned to leave us as she assumed that we were done with our ordering.  We informed her that we were not finished, and asked whether she needed to write down the names of the dishes.  No need, apparently.  A manager came over, and he also confirmed that they would be able to remember all the dishes we were going to order.  We pointed to the names of the dishes on the menu while placing our order.  Nothing was written down despite our repeated requests.

Minutes later the manager returned and asked us to confirm a dish that we had ordered.  We informed him that we did not order that particular dish, and proceeded to reconfirm each dish once again.  He went away.

While waiting for our food, I decided to pick up a bread roll and spread some butter on part of it.  I almost spat it out.  The butter was stale and racid - it probably had been sitting out in room temperature for who knows how long.  I asked my friends to stay away from the butter.  I've never had a restaurant serve me stale butter like this.  Ever.

Food started to arrive and things started to calm down, sort of.  The chives mandu in small portion were OK, like Japanese gyoza. Samgeobsal kochoojang was pretty spicy, but I was a little disappointed in the three-layered pork - it was a little too shredded and there was not much fat.  Sea whelk in spicy sour sauce with noodles also came as a small portion, and was pretty decent.

So daechang gui was by far our favorite dish.  The ox intestine on the hotplate was just soooo yummy... I could have had the whole plate myself.  The fried spring onions worked well with the intestine. Mini kimchijuns were disappointing - doughy and flabby when they should be more dry and crispy.

Seafood ddeokbokgi was from the "Korean Royal Cuisine" section.  Now I'm no expert on Korean food, but my travels to Seoul tells me that ddeokbokgi is actually street food most popular on cold winter nights.  Calling street food "royal cuisine" is an oxymoron.  Instead of just rice cakes and simple fish cakes, the restaurant decided to make a "premium" version by using real seafood - like crab, mussels...etc. This was pretty spicy, too, as expected.

Pineapple bulgogi wasn't what I expected at all.  It was nothing more than simple slices of stir-fried beef (perhaps tenderized with pineapple juice) with a few chunks of pineapple on the side. I'm left scratching my head trying to figure out why this dish was created at all...

We were also brought a plate of spicy seafood noodles.  For some reason the restaurant thought we ordered this - yet another confusion thanks to their refusal to write down our orders.  We sent it back, but they decided to give it to us anyway on a complimentary basis.  After all, they had no other customers to give it to.  It was bland and uninteresting.

For dessert we chose the preserved persimmon stuffed with mixed nuts and dried fruits. This was pretty good - stuffed with walnuts, black sesame...etc and garnished with pine nuts and jujube.  The yuzu sauce was nice.

We were stuffed.  On average the food was OK, although there were only at most two dishes which we liked.  But what was up with the service?!  These people - and there were at least four of them - were just totally clueless!  If you don't know the names of the dishes, or can't remember the names beyond three dishes, use your pen and paper to write them down!  How can they not understand something so basic?!

And what's with the manager's uniform jacket?  The name of the restaurant was embroidered on the left sleeve of the guy's pin-stripe jacket, in the same spot where the mainland Chinese people used to show off the brand names of their jackets.  Dude, I don't care about how cool your uniform is...I care about how good your service can be...

Three months after opening, at 8pm on a Wednesday night, in a busy shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, the restaurant served three customers out of a capacity of about 60.  The Japanese ramen shop next door is doing brisk business, so the restaurant is empty not for lack of traffic.  Frankly, there's absolutely no reason for me to go back - not with uninspiring food and clueless staff.  My friends and I give the place another three months...

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map