The One With Cantonese Dinner At Ramada Hotel – First Class Chinese Cuisine Misrepresented

Ramada Hotel wouldn’t be the first to cross your mind when you think of Chinese cuisine. Its flagship (and only) restaurant, 中華樓 is located at its ground floor but not one you would expect filled with hotel guests. That’s probably because its main entrance is located somewhat next to the hotel; the doors from the hotel lobby opened unceremoniously right into the back of the restaurant.

When I first walked in I startled a whole table of fellow diners. Oh, the shame!

And so to dinner. If you have to ask, yes this was another Groupon dinner; how would you think I could have found out about the place then? At $499 for a ten course dinner for six person, it was definitely a good deal.

Or so I thought. First, let’s get to the food:

Chilled Dragon Fruit & King Prawn Salad

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

The dinner started off with a deceiving starter. The “king” in its name must certainly be a kind of prawn breed; its size certainly wasn’t “king”. Each person got one prawn, sliced into halves. I don’t know about you, but I detest chefs who do this kind of thing. If you want to do a prawn dish, do it properly. Not frugally. The rest of the salad – fruits and what’s not – was entirely forgettable.

Jade & Flower Treasure Nest

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

Somewhat acceptable, but not exceptional. See that piece of fried rice noodle, shaped like a cake? I love this kind of thing. I loved it more when it’s served fresh, crunchy, even with gravy poured on it. Alas this was soft. Not from the gravy, but probably from over exposure to the air. Saving graces including some snail meat (I don’t know its proper name), squids and black fungus. Reasonably fresh. I wished the rice noodle was, too.

Baked & Stuffed Fresh Conches In Japanese Style

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

At first I didn’t know what conches are. When the dish was served, I was delighted by the size of the “snail” (yes I am the kind who do exotic food, like cooked snails in Morocco, or fried grasshoppers in Bangkok). Naively, one of us even asked for a proper fork to eat them, but we shouldn’t have. Apparently, this was merely a shell. Stuffed to its brim were some chicken-pie-like filling, baked with a layer of cheese.

Needless to say, my disappointment was extreme. I still shudder at the memory of asking-for-forks-for-the-snail moment. I mean, the captain could have at least explained.

Braised Dried Scallop & Enoki Mushroom With Pomelo Peel

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

Apparently, the pomelo peel part is difficult to make, and not many restaurants were up to it (err, why?). At least that’s what my friends said. I wouldn’t have known the difference. Like the treasure nest, this bore the signature of an authentic Chinese cuisine, but the flavor was far from wanting. Not exceptional.

Seafood Soup With Bird’s Nest

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

If there was bird nest in this dish, I couldn’t taste it. But what I could definitely taste was shark fin. Now depending on which side of the fence you are on, but for me (and some of us at the table) this is simply not on. I would not eat shark fin voluntarily (here’s why). To be deceived into buying a set dinner with shark fin included… well, at least I could say this wasn’t voluntary. But I feel bad for my friends. I feel like as if I tricked them into it.

Steam Scallop With Garlic

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

Now of all the dishes included that night, this is one I could tell if it is good or otherwise. A good steamed scallop should retain that musky, sea-salt taste, without being overpowered by the garlic. If the scallop is fresh, the meat with be juicy and slight crunchy. But after the series of disappointments from the dishes before this, my hope wasn’t high. And that was justified. The scallops were just done so me-too, I took one in halfheartedly,

Garoupa In Traditional Style

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

Another disappointment. Even before we taste the fish, we can already smell it. And that’s just not on.

Fried Rice With Crab Leg

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

How could someone get somethings as simple as fried rice wrong? Sadly, this plate, despite its huge portion, didn’t taste as good as it looked. And what crab legs? Crab sticks, more like.

Grilled Sesame Chicken

Chinese Dinner @ 中華樓, Ramada Hotel Hong Kong

I am saving the best for the last. This was definitely the saviour of the night. It tasted exactly what it should be – grilled to crispy perfection, with the sesame taste just nice, and not overly salty. It was good enough to make me wonder if this came from the same kitchen which produced the disasters before this.

If you are still reading by now, I applaud you. Maybe you like to read reviews of bad food. But wait for it; the food itself wasn’t the worst.

The worst was how we were treated. Perhaps we were using the Groupon deal, but we were given the most awful seat, hardly enough for six person. My more outspoken friend asked for a bigger table, which we were given.

And then the service was so half hearted, we felt like beggars asking for food.

At the end, I walked away not knowing I need to pay another 10% service charge. The waitress were like, hey, you need to pay another $50. I almost didn’t want to pay, but with five friends with me, I didn’t want to make a scene.

What puzzled me was how the restaurant seemed to be full of patrons. Some seemed to be regulars, from the way they talked to the wait staff.

I won’t even bother providing the details of this place. Google if you must, but I will definitely NOT return. I don’t know how anyone could have paid some $1500 (its original price) for a set dinner like that.

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