Thursday, August 21, 2008

Congee Noodle King

Rating: *1/2 out of *****
After an afternoon at Kitsilano Beach, my family wanted to dine out at a simple noodle house for dinner. Having read decent reviews of Congee Noodle King (at we thought we'd give it a shot. We walked into the restaurant, and my first impression was that it was fairly spacious, clean and quite... empty. It was 6pm in the evening and there was only one other table being occupied with customers. I wasn't too turned off by the quite atmosphere, sometimes it's nice to not have to elbow other people or squeeze in between chairs. So, once we were seated the waitress handed us a menu. I was a bit peeved at this, because there were 7 of us and she only gave us 2 menus. I could understand if she had done this when the restaurant was busy, but seriously... there was nobody else there. Who was she saving the whole stack of menus for?! So, I helped myself to two more menus and we were ready to order. The menu had a very large selection of congee, noodles and noodle soups... so many that it was hard to choose. Eventually, when we were ready, we got the waitress' attention and she came to take our order. The service at Congee Noodle King is typical of an HK Chinese restaurant; when ordering, don't expect any friendly banter between server and customer and by all means, don't even expect eye contact or acknowledgment that your order was even heard. Maybe it was just a long day for our waitress, but at least have the decency to look us in the face and nod. Once we ordered, the food came out very quickly and the portion sizes were quite impressive. Lots of noodles, soup and meat! ... oh, and lots of fruit flies too... read the concluding review for more juicy details :s

My sister ordered their Char Siew Pork, with noodles in soup $6.95; a large portion of pork, although my sister described the pork as being "flubby"

Wat Tan Yau Hor (Beef and Egg Hor Fun), $7.95; my other sister ordered this. It tasted much like the Hor Fun we order at Hon's, but had an odd after-taste

My sister's friend ordered the Pork Balls and veggies, with noodles in soup $5.95; five large pork balls and a few pieces of kai-lan.

I wanted to try ostrich meat. Having never tried it before, I thought that I'd give it a shot. Here's my Ostrich Meat in Congee, $7.95; nothing spectacular. The congee was nice, with the peanuts and spring onions, but the ostrich simply tasted like beef (I bet it was!)

My mom loves dry egg noodles and loads of veggies; she ordered their beef slices and beef tendon with veggies on noodles $6.95; they gave plenty of tendon and kai-lan and the noodles were not over-cooked

The price of food at this restaurant is quite fair, and the portions that they provide are definitely worth the price. The quality of the food is simply so-so, you could get the same kind of food at Hon's and have the good service that goes along with a trip to Hon's. And just to let you in on an incident that occured at the Congee Noodle King, the saying "the customer is always right" is not followed here. Allow me to elaborate; this restaurant had quite a few fruit-flies floating around, landing on my side-plate and swarming 'round my head. We gave the restaurant the benifit of the doubt, because it was a hot day and they decided to keep the front doors open. But, my sister's friend had ordered the pork-balls with noodles in soup, and by the time she got half-way through the bowl, she had discovered a fruit-fly floating in her soup. So, the normal thing to do would be to request another dish that is "bug-free"... right? Well, the waitress did not think so, and all she said to us was "you have to watch out for the flies!" Well, be that as it may, we have had to deal with the constant barrage of buzzing pests for the entire meal, so we insisted that we get another Pork-ball with noodles in soup dish. Our waitress begrudgingly took the bowl back to the kitchen and returned with a full bowl, which we thought was new. But apparently, they thought it fitting to simply remove the fly from our old bowl and dump in some more soup and noodles... hmmm, not what you'd expect from a restaurant, eh? Oh well, their tip would not be gracious.

On a side-note, this restaurant is "cash only". With our bill coming to $35.95 + tax, and my mother paying in $40, the stingy cashier showed not intention of giving my mother her $3.20 change. I think she thought that the $3.20 was owed to her as a tip, but seriously... who are you to decide how much the customer tips. My mom wouldn't back-down and leave without her $3.20 (way to go mom!) and eventually, the cashier handed her the money. My mom gave them a $2 tip and we were off; with full stomaches, but by no means satisfied with their service, we left for home. The mediocre food at this small noodle/congee house could not over-ride the poor service and rude attitude of the entire restaurant. We will not be coming back anytime soon.


Palidor said...

Ewww, flies in your food?? You should have rated them no stars!! You are too generous. :P

silverrock said...

Ha! To true, they barely deserve any stars. Yeah, the flies grossed me out too.

shoku said...

Had never heard of this place before and after reading about your experience, I will not be itching to try. Then again, I'm not a big fan of congee to begin with.

I've had the same kind of experience with fruit flies swarming about in Vietnamese Pho places from time to time too.

Good for your mother in making sure to leave a "message" with the tip. :)


Elra said...

I would definitely not going back there ever!

Tom Aarons said...

Love the name, but I wouldn't be so keen on the bugs! :)