June 3, 2015

Set menu FAIL

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One of our service providers very kindly took us out for lunch today at The Boss (波士廳) - a restaurant whose food I am rather fond of.  Given that this is a business lunch, it wasn't at all surprising that our generous hosts chose one of the set menus which the restaurant had put together for diners like ourselves.  While I would often prefer tasting menus at fine dining establishments serving "Western" or Japanese food, my past experiences with Chinese restaurants in this area have generally not fared as well.

We started off with something from The Boss dim sum combination (波士點心拼盤), which features four different items today:

Deep-fried bean curd sheet rolls (蝦籽腐皮卷) - a little surprised that we started with this, but this tasted fine.

Braised crab meat and sweet corn soup (蟹肉粟米羹) - ahhh... the clichéd "corn and egg-drop soup" featured on the menus of so many American Chinese restaurants, with corn starch acting as thickening agent.  At least this was made with some real crab meat.

Sauteed prawn with salty egg yolk (燕麥金沙大蝦球) - yes, this was done in a style that was more modern, with a batter around the prawn, but somehow it seemed a little sloppy... and in fact, that goes for the whole presentation.

The Boss shrimp dumplings (波士蝦餃皇) and The Boss pork dumplings (波士燒賣皇) - FAIL.  This is why you don't take the set menu, because FAILs like this generally won't happen to regular steamers containing only shrimp dumplings.  It's obvious here that the wrapper for the shrimp dumpling was already broken before it arrived at the table, thanks to over-steaming and a sloppy kitchen.  At least two of us ended up having the filling completely separated from the wrapper.  I can't remember the last time this kind of thing happened to me.

Deep-fried spring roll with shrimp and garlic (蒜香蝦春卷) - the taste of garlic definitely stood out, and I liked these spring rolls.

Seasonal vegetables with congee soup (絲苗米湯泡時蔬) - I expected lighter flavors for this soupy veg dish, but being soaked in a thin soup that looks like the leftovers after straining the rice out from congee... yeah, pretty bland.

Braised e-fu noodles with conpoy and mixed mushrooms (瑤柱雜菌炆伊麵) - we go from a bland veg dish to a bowl of noodles that was heavily seasoned.  These e-fu noodles were always going to be seasoned with soy sauce, but methinks the kitchen went a liiiiittle bit overboard.  I did appreciate the mix of mushrooms, though... as it was more interesting than what one usually gets.

The sweet soup of the day (每日精選糖水) was sago cream with taro (芋頭西米露).  This was pretty diluted and didn't have a whole lot of "solids".

Was this lunch worthy of the restaurants one Michelin star?  Absolutely not.  I have always enjoyed the food here, and I would have been able to put together a selection of dim sum items that would have been just as filling, tasted better, and at the same or lower price point.

Lesson of the day?  Avoid the set menu at Chinese restaurants like the plague.

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