This venue puzzles me, it has the location and a large tapped customer base (shoppers from the Broadway Centre as well as gig audiences from Hammersmith Apollo) so I cannot understand a restaurant giving itself the weighty pressure of titling itself the REAL China - what the Chinese Tourist Board would say on the matter I can only conjecture (that's if they are aware). Let me start my review in setting out I think there is general agreement in the reviews for this establishment but there appears to be some dispute from others giving this place praise thus understandably leaving those unsure what to believe. Some argue the negative reviews are over the top and unfair. It seems many of those favouring this place fall under the category 'what do you expect for this price'. If this is your philosophy in life then I would say follow those reviews. I will relate my review exactly as I experienced it and leave it for others to see if my experiences corroborate with those read.
I visited this restaurant for an informal large family lunch on a Saturday afternoon. It is located in a favourable location just outside the Broadway Centre. The decor was pleasant: dark wood furnishings and the buffet food laid out in the middle. We sat down but no waiting staff came over so some of us started to help ourselves to the buffet until word spread we had to pay BEFORE eating (seemed unusual arrangement) I paid for food and bottomless drinks. I found out after this was limited to fizzy drinks dispensers (usual Pepsi/Diet Pepsi/Lemonade/Vimto/Orangeade) I do not like fizzy drinks and would have preferred mineral water at least but none offered; I would have bought Jasmine tea if known this was the offer but that was more money so I had a Vimto.
Now to vexed question of the food. Let me deal with positives first: it looked good and a decent selection - for me I was rubbing my hands seeing egg fu yung on offer (rarely get this) - the other notable thing was the steam rising from the food (the significance of this will be discussed in a moment). My nephew who is famed in our family for his appetite claimed he was starving and my daughter - famed for her love of spring rolls - eagerly zeroed her attention to these. My nephew came back with his plate piled high. When I went up to collect my plate - unlike other reviews I did not see ayt chipped plates - however my plate, and the others, were COLD. A worrying sign - a basic in ANY establishment. When I returned to the table the faces of everyone signaled something was not right. I soon discovered the reason was everyone said their food was cold. I do not mean stone cold but it was definitely at best (the mushrooms) warm - we love our food hot. My mum and sister, later others also, asked for their food to be reheated in the microwave. While they waited I noticed my nephew had typically demolished his food but remained seated. He would normally be on to his 2nd or 3rd plate in oriental buffets but announced he was going somewhere else to eat owing to the food - that has never happened! We had to strangely wait some time for the microwave reheated food to return and when it did some dishes were only a little better! What we couldn't understand was how this could occur if there was STEAM coming from the hotplates. We wondered if it was comparable to how some supermarkets pump out baking bread aromas in their bakeries. My nephew said the equipment probably wasn't working but I argued even if this were the case the restaurant out of common courtesy/avoid deception should notify customers before they ate and/or offer reduce prices so this couldn't have been the issue. Also if so many people raised the food temperature issue (we saw others asking for their food to be heated) surely they were aware of the problem and should have taken steps to address this.
My food: Temperature issue aside there were some quality issues. As mentioned egg fu yung enjoyed, also mushrooms - large & tasty, stir fried beans crispy. Downsides: a) prawn sesame toast overcooked + hard; b) beef in oyster sauce (one of my favourite Cantonese staples) - resembled cow heel soup i.e. pieces of meat came attached with bone and gristle - perhaps the real way it is done in China? - if so a complete first for me also quite greasy aftertaste; c) sweet and sour chicken - I did not have this - simply because I initially thought it was some concoction of raspberries. The unnatural red colour was obviously E number(s) and not appertising. I should mention the ice cream tasted more of ice than cream - I know this is budget and I was not expecting premium clotted cream but even basic value ice cream was better than this. There was also a 'jelly' - admit not a fan but jelly is suppose to eventually melt on the tongue, this broke up into miniature 'rubberised' bits - which I had to discreetly get rid of in a tissue.
The men's toilet facilities were okay except 2 out of the 4 urinals were out of order as was the soap dispenser - a bottle of liquid soap replaced this. I should also mention the waiting staff were faultless (apart from time waiting for reheated food) they replaced empty food trays regularly. In fact I felt sorry for the young woman at the bar/front desk as she did a lot of running around and must have been aware of all the comments/dissatisfaction.
Concluding thoughts: To those who appear to argue I shouldn't be fussy for the price personally I think this is a weak and insulting argument. I HAVE had many meals for around this price and yes of better quality. Also what is it saying to chefs who can produce good food at budget prices? If filing your stomach is the sole priority there is a McDonald's opposite where one can get a Big Mc meal for around the same price (not that I'm promoting that) but just to show how spurious that argument is. In fairness it could be I visited on an off day but other reviews worryingly corroborate the issues I experienced and still they appear to exist.
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