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Lousy Food but Packed Restaurant - Why?? Illogical!!!

Hung Far (HK) Seafood Cafe, Richmond Hill

Located inside Richlane Mall on Leslie and 16th Avenue, this small and cramped hole-in-the-wall Chinese 'wok-hay' restaurant is only a few minutes drive from my home. Although I have eaten in every establishments inside the mall, some how, I have never set foot inside this one! Strange?! Considering it is always busy and packed, especially on weekends.

Tonight, too lazy to cook and even lazier to drive far for food, my wife and I decided to give this 'down-the-road' establishment a try.

We ordered 3 plates from the a la carte menu, playing it safe and sticking with traditional, home cook dishes:

- Scrambled Egg Foo-Yung with Prawns
- Stirred fry beef steak cubes with honey and pepper sauce with Broccoli
- Poached free range chicken in Fish Sauce,

The dishes were HUGE! Main ingredients like the prawns or beef cubes were aplenty.

Unfortunately, Look deceives!! EVERYTHING was BLAND and TASTELESS!!!! The prawns, the beef, the broccoli...!! Salt was totally missing!! The chef must be either sick, on drugs or day dreaming to forget about seasoning the ingredients before cooking them! To make matter worse, the boiled ( instead of stir fried ) broccoli was resting in a pool of water which the cook must have forgotten to drain off! What a mess!! However, to be fair, the chicken was pretty decent.

To fellow hounds who live in the Richmond Hill vicinity. BEWARE!! Eat there at your own risk!!! I'm sure almost every Chinese eateries in the area serve better food than this pathetic outfit!

So, back to my original question!! Such lousy food but busy restaurant - Why??!! Illogical!!

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  1. Chinese restaurants are typically very busy for one of two reasons....very, very good food offering unique dishes or very cheap. I'm guessing you didn't break the bank at this place...

    1 Reply
    1. re: T Long

      Scarborough's 'Fantasy Eatery' used to offer both these formulas! GOOD and CHEAP food!!!
      Pity the head chef left!!

    2. Wait. You actually think most people choose a restaurant based on the quality of the food?

      What a novel (and refreshingly naive) thought.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I really must agree with this one.
        I think most people choose out of sheer laziness.


      2. Add enough soy sauce and all Chinese food tastes just fine. I've never had Chinese food that I didn't like.

        15 Replies
        1. re: Herne

          Soy sauce does not make egg tarts taste better, or chicken soup or egg drop soup or water boiled fish or tsao-bing, for example.

          If you do, then you like soy sauce, not Chinese food.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Could be you are right. I have never ordered egg tarts, or chicken soup or egg drop soup or water boiled fish or tsao-bing but I understand your point.

          2. re: Herne

            If you're dumping soy sauce on everything, then you don't actually like Chinese food. :o)

            1. re: TorontoJo

              I don't dump soy sauce on everything. I said that if you add soy sauce to any Chinese food it tastes just fine.

              1. re: Herne

                It may taste fine to you (and that's cool), but it's like saying "if I add ketchup <or salt or hot sauce or any condiment> to <pick any cuisine>, it tastes just fine". You're fundamentally changing the nature of the dishes you're adding soy sauce to. A large portion of Chinese cooking doesn't even have soy sauce in it. So when someone is saying that their Chinese food order at a restaurant isn't good, it's not because of lack of soy sauce.

                I'm not trying to pick a fight, just trying to point out that the solution you're offering up doesn't help the people that want to enjoy quality Chinese cooking.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  I'm guessing Herne might be talking mostly about Chinese Cdn dishes. I wouldn't think of adding soy to some of the more subtle, complex or fragrant dishes, but I don't think adding soy would hurt the nature of fried rice or chow mein, which might be the types of dishes Herne is talking about correcting.

              2. re: TorontoJo

                What if I only dump the soy sauce on the steamed rice that comes with my honey garlic wings and chicken balls? Ha ha. But seriously, I don't think adding more soy means someone doesn't like/love Chinese food.I'd think it mostly means they also like soy/salt and might not frequent the types of Chinese restaurants serving dishes that would be harmed by additional soy.

                I add vinegar, lemon juice and/or hot sauce to all sorts of dishes, and it doesn't mean I don't love the food that's getting doused or drizzled. Sure, I'm changing the chef's intent and/or correcting a kitchen's mistake, and I might be taking the dish in a non-traditional/non-conventional direction, but if I'm the one who will be eating the dish, I think it's ok if I want to change its flavour profile to my liking. I'm aware changing a dish at the table might insult some Chefs out there, so I'd be more likely to doctor my take-out or leftovers, unless I'm in a restaurant that has condiments on the tables.

                I love Chinese food. (But some of you already know that!)

                Charles, I think you should travel with a toolkit (or maybe your wife could carry a kit in her handbag) when you visit restaurants off your regular rotation, to fix underseasoned dishes!

              3. re: Herne

                For stirred fry dishes. If the ingredients, especially the meat, have not been 'marinated and seasoned', the finish product might as well be 'Cardboard with sauce'!!

                1. re: Herne

                  yeah, sounds like you don't like chinese food at all.

                  1. re: szw

                    Listen for another sound. I love Chinese food. Next to Canadian food it is my favourite

                    1. re: Herne

                      I like to add ketchup to my Canadian food...most Canadian food tastes fine with that;) You are referring to burgers...and fries right?

                      1. re: T Long

                        Love burgers but not with ketchup. I was referring to dishes such as pork chops, roast beef, salmon steak.

                          1. re: MissBingBing

                            Yeah, that threw me for a loop too. Not only salmon, but the entire list Herne put up, incl. pork chops and roast beef.

                            1. re: MissBingBing

                              Communication problem. I was giving examples of Canadian food. I rarely use ketchup at all.

                  2. Lousy food, busy restaurant, you just described McDonalds.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Pizza Pizza, Hero Burger, etc. There's a boat load of 'em.


                    2. Wow Charles first the crazy headline for the Four Seasons now this.. Are you trying now to cause drama on Chowhound? That may not be a bad thing since it seems to be pretty much dying over the last year or so... less and less posts all the time...

                      Anyway back to this restaurant... maybe your tastes are too refined and everyone else that goes there likes the food plainer and less seasoned then you.. not everyone shares the same tastes.. And based on your pictures that "pool" of water in the broccoli dish must be crystal clear because I do not see it at all.

                      Also it would be helpful if you included the prices or total bill in your post because there is a difference in what people expect at different price points.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: pourboi

                        When I saw the water, I did not wait. I drained the water off to a bowl before taking the photo!! Otherwise, its going to dilute the sauce of the beef and caused the veggie to turn mushy!

                        Price for the 3 dishes with the usual complimentary soup was $37 all inclusive. BTW, for about the same amount of money, one can get similar but tastier dishes that employed better ingredients from places like John's BBQ or Judy's Cuisine!!

                        As for my 'less and less posts all the time' that you eluded to. Actually, lately, most of my time was spend posting on the New York and China ( Hong Kong ) board. I believe I 'swamped' the Hong Kong board with at least 10 postings with photos the past couple of months alone!

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          I did not mean that you are posting less I meant that the Toronto board is as a whole less active...

                      2. How do you think McD's made their fortune.

                        People would eat that crap up with sweet and sour sauce and/or soy sauce and call it world cuisine.

                        Also, you have to give the restaurant some leeway because they have to adjust to the local palate. You serve someone a clay pot meal and many would complain the dish was dirty. How many people do you know who think black pepper is too spicy for them.

                        Sadly, the only spices some people know are salt and black pepper and if you don't serve them ketchup or BBQ sauce, well, there goes your Michelin star.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: nikkib99

                          I like McDonald's. I'd take McDonald's over quite a few restaurants that have been recommended on this Board.

                          I don't believe I know anyone who finds black pepper too spicy.

                          1. re: prima

                            in response to charles' post, just a reminder not everyone who frequents family style chinese restaurants are looking for a fine-dining experience. In most cases, we go to restaurants with set dinner menus for value and efficiency. so that the mother-in-laws do not have to spend their weekends in the kitchen cooking up dinners for 6 or 10 people.
                            Not everyone is a chowhound. And like another poster said - mainly going out of laziness or for a quick meal with family.
                            That's why unfortunately, it's the moderate and high end places that are going out of business. I miss Bayview Garden, Ambassador and Lai Wai Heen. Every once in a while, a chinese western restaurant that serves souffle will open up and then close down. most folks still prefer HK diners, congee places and set dinner diners.
                            That's why Pho 88 was jam packed on Saturday at midnight.

                            1. re: caitlink

                              Well said! Agree!!

                              Not expecting great food from family style set dinner is one thing. But for the chef to forget putting salt in seasoning of ingredients before cooking is inexcusable! Especially when its 2 out of 2!!

                              I miss Bayview Garden too!! Their Smoked Grand Father Free Range Chicken was amazing!

                              1. re: caitlink

                                There is no reason why "home cooking" should not be as pleasurable as haute cuisine and generally better except in the best places because there is less to screw up. After all , this isn't France.
                                Chicken or calf liver is different from foies gras, but can also be divine. All it takes is a cook who knows how. But good luck. In Toronto with all the prancing who cooks beans properly? Who cooks beans? I still remember from years ago a clear soup with a few lima beans in it at Marcel Rethore's place on Yonge St, Quartier(?). Beautiful. Marcel went broke.

                                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                  i had a couple dishes with beans the other night at the grove, they were great, quit whining

                                  1. re: disgusti

                                    What dishes? What kind of beans?
                                    In any event it does not surprise that there is more than one chef in Toronto who knows how to cook beans.
                                    How many times have you had beans as part of a restaurant meal?