Having tasted some of the dishes pre-opening (and midday), I was interested to see how the space, service, and food was going to do at night with paying customers. My bottom line answer: so so.
The room was full last night, but the space is set up so that you don't ever feel cramped in. The music, however, was piped in far too loud, making it hard to hear at times. The space was also packed with famous restaurauters who were checking out the latest, after so many months of kitchen controversy.
The service was attentive, though sometimes overly so. I also found that there were too many runners for the number of tables. Additionally, the runners seemed to have little to no communication with the servers whatsoever. On more than one occassion, a runner tried to clear away our dipping sauces, assuming we had just finished a course, when in fact it had yet to be delivered. There are several dishes that require sauces or tableside preparation (the dim sum, the chin shan, etc), so communication will be something that needs to be smoothed out in the coming weeks.
Now to the food....I was pleasantly surprised by the dishes we had. The dim sum that we tried (soup dumplings, shrimp and chicken dumplings) were great. They were not too doughy nor too flimsy, and the fillings were perfectly cooked. We also had a starter of the spicy fish lettuce wraps. The filling comes in an edible bowl made mostly of sesame seeds. This was quite delicious...the filling was spicy but not overwhelmingly so. The fish with the panko breadcrumbs (which they call white sand here) was also great.
The one disappointment was a dish called "Fiery Pepper Hunt". I had skipped over it on the menu when we ordered. But, we happened to be seated next to a very famous food writer who had ordered it, so we decided it must be good. We were duped. We ordered the dish with lobster and chicken, just as our table neighbor had. When we got the bill, we realized this little dish cost $54!!! It comes in a large bowl filled with spicy red peppers which are for decoration and to add an essence of spice. You cannot eat them. The dish is called "hunt" because you have to dig through the bowl with your chopsticks beyond the plethora of red peppers to find pieces of deep-fried chicken and lobster. In total, we counted 4 small pieces of chicken, and 5 of lobster. I'm talking bite size pieces. This dish is a total scam, and not worth it at all.
We skipped dessert and opted for another glass of wine instead.
All in all, the food was good. I would go back (skipping the hunt of course) in a few months once the kitchen and service staff had a chance to find their ground.
I agree with pretty much every word of this review. The restaurant is FAR too complicated and FAR too expensive to bother with. Even giving it the benefit of the doubt (because it's so new), it didn't live up to expectations in a single category. The $54 Pepper Hunt is a poor version of a dish that costs $10 or $12 at Grand Sichuan Eastern.
Being a bunch of "foodies" we were excited to be able to score a Thursday night 915 reservation for 5 people for a friends 27th b-day.....some gift!!!!!
We were seated promptly.................................yup, thats about the last positive thing i have to say.
Highlights of the evening (please note the sarcasim):
- Fiery pepper hunt: For those that havent had the pleasure, this is supposed to be one of those interactive meals, where you endlessly search through what seams like hundreds of peppers which are not meant to be eaten to find your "treasure" of fried shrimp and chicken. Some treasure, more like a kick to the groin!!! After endless searching i found 3 pieces of chicken and 4 pieces of shrimp. I would have been happier to save the effort and just be given an order chicken nuggets from McDonalds off the dollar menu!!!!! Far more appetizing and without the hassle of seaching through peppers that can burn your mouth beyond repair! This is suppose to be dinner, not an episode from "Fear Factor". (although perhaps had i eaten a pepper by mistake i would saved myself the tourture that was the rest of my meal). Had to send back 3 dishes and would have sent back more if i didnt feel bad for the waiter.
- Service: Where shall we start.....average wait time for a drink - 15 minutes and 3 requests. Accuracy on drinks: 50%; And im not talking "kettle soda vs/ kettle tonic". Order a "vodka splash of anything" and your lucky to get a jack and coke 20 minutes later and only after asking for the 4th time!!!!
Finally; to top it off, the girl whos birthday it was celebrated in true fashion....wet t-shirt style!! No this wasnt due to the effects of the jack and coke that was suppose to be a kettle soda, rather this was due to the waitress spilling an entire tray of drinks on her white dress! Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!
After all of this, all anyone could think of was retreating from this disaster and move on with our evening. Easier said then done! It took 20 minutes and a manager to be able to get me my check................
Maybe if i would have gotten the chicken nuggets off the Mcdonalds dollar menu instead of the "fiery pepper $45 Hunt of hell" dish I would be able to pay for my friends dry cleaning bill!!!!!!!!!!