Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Culinary Letdown



My friend's brother was in Shanghai recently and recommended we try a Shanghainese restaurant called Yuan Yuan.

We didn't go to the location he went to, but another one in the Kah Wah Building off Huai Hai Road and Xiangyang Road.

It's in an office building and takes up the first two floors.

The night before we tried to go, but they didn't take reservations and was already packed. So we decided to go relatively early for lunch the next day.

When we got there we heard the sounds of someone cutting their nails with a nail clipper. I was thinking if it's the hostess, we're leaving. It turned out to be an old man sitting in the lobby reading the paper and grooming at the same time.

The young woman said if we wanted to have dim sum then we should eat downstairs, or for a proper lunch to head upstairs. We opted for the latter and got into the elevator.

Although there weren't many diners in the Chinoiserie room, there was a strong smoke smell already. We tried to avoid one table with a smoker, but then we could smell the cigarette of one of the cooks at the back. So we ended up right by the door.

The menu looked promising with lots of pictures and stars by many of the items suggesting they were the restaurant's signature dishes. One of the appetizers included aloe in orange juice.

However it took us over 10 minutes to get the waiter's attention to take our order. The servers either ignored us or pointed to the only waiter in the room. It seemed no one else was qualified to do the job.

He stood at one table at the other end of the room for a long time. We told one of the servers we wanted our order taken, but the waiter didn't make a beeline for us, but for another table instead.

Finally he arrived to take our order and got us tea. From the moment we sat down up until this point no one asked us what tea we wanted to drink.

We decided to be adventurous and try dates stuffed with glutinous rice. This appetizer was slightly sweet covered in a syrup sauce, but was quite filling after eating a few of them. We couldn't finish it.

The sweet and sour ribs were promising, alternatively savory and sweet in one bite. It took a while before our next dish came - xiaolongbao. The filling included crab meat, but it wasn't fresh and not very flavourful.

The fried buns were redeeming and were alternatively crunchy and tender inside with a pork and vegetable filling.

We also ordered barbecue pork pastries and turnip puffs - strips of turnip wrapped in a pastry - but both of these dishes were hardly warm and were disappointing.

At one point a waiter came by and put hand towels packaged in plastic on our tables and my friend noticed it was written down on our bill. She asked another server to take it away and we made sure the charge wasn't added to our tab.

In the end we opted not to stick around for dessert, thinking it would take forever to arrive. The bill came to 168 RMB for two.

Perhaps other locations of this restaurant are better, but we weren't very impressed with this one.

Yuan Yuan
1-2/F, K Wah Centre
No. 108 Xiang Yang Road
5108 337
www.yycy.cn

1 comment:

ks said...

problem with the chinese restaurnatin general is the maintenance of quality in their food, service and decor. i remember well at one time i was travelling in germany , i guess it was colongne, i ate a mcdonalds hamberger. it tasted exactly the same as anywhere, like the one in manhatten.