Point Zero Four Fusion Restaurant on Alexandra Road, Richmond

Suanne and I never learn. We know that we almost always end up regretting having AYCE (All You Can Eat) and yet we go back again and again.

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We had always passed by this place with the bright yellow signboards each time we go to Alexandra Road. They have the brightest signboard along Alexandra for sure. The name too — I can’t quite figure out what it really means. It is called Point Zero Four Fusion … it could mean to read as Point Zero, Four Fusion or .04 Fusion. Whatever it is, the tagline says that they serve Beijing Style Cuisine.

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The place is large and takes up the space of three normal shop lots. The decor is tacky as expected. The tables were raised a few inches off the ground because of the gas pipings to each table. See the legs of the chairs … they even had to have the legs extended. Pipings or not, I think they did not maintain them because some of the built in stoves did not work. Ours didn’t work and they used a portable burner instead.

Service is rude. Should I say service is rude by western standards. Not everyone can stand for this but Suanne and I learned to look away from this. They are rude as in not making eye contact, giving mono-syllabic answers, grabbing utensils in a haste … you know. I believe they think they are projecting a professional and efficient image but buddy, that it rude here in this part of the world. Smile … please … because that translates to tips, dum-dum.

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You got to ask for the 2-page order form in English. By default they hand you one in Chinese.

The Hot Pot AYCE is $18 per person. What is not stated is the “extras” … the soup base is an extra charge. The soup base ranges from the no frills $5 pork soup to $15 drunken chicken. There is quite a variety to choose from. The Dips and Sauces are free for the first order. They will charge 50 cents for the second order.

You can upgrade the AYCE Hot Pot to include BBQ Skewers (another of their specialty) for an extra $6. We thought it is a bit too much having Hot Pot AND BBQ Skewers.

Looking at their faces, they are of no help to us in deciding our order. We ended up ordering almost one of every item.

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The “suen moi tong” drinks are a deal. The above is just $1 per person with unlimited refills. Cynical as we are, we thought the reason it is so cheap is because they wanted us to fill up with water instead of the more expensive meat items.

I made a mistake asking question about exactly what this is made of. The waitress just blurted, while turning her back to me and walk away, “for drinking”. Oh please … I know that. There goes your tips, baby.

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The soup base we selected was the Szechuan. They were spicy hot. I got to hand it to them … they smell absolutely marvelous and fragrant. There are a lot of spices in the soup base … especially with the lips numbing peppercorns. Nice.

They were MSG laden too as we confirmed after the meal. We were thirsty.

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Round one was the meats. We ticked every single meat item except for the pork blood. I am not sure how they decided how much to give us but it was a lot of meat.

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At least it was all thinly sliced and does shrink a lot once it is cooked.

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Round two was the seafood. The same strategy applies … we ticked every single item. We did not opt for the Geoduck because it was $12 extra … per dish!

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Actually they smell very fishy. I can picked up a waft of it when it was brought to the table. It was not stale or rotten or anything like that. It had a smell of a fish market.

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But once cooked, it should be OK.

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Anyway, the strong fragrant soup base overpowered any fishiness once the seafood is in the pot. Absolutely loved the soup base. It was really good during the meal. It was the after effect from the MSG that is not so good. As much as the soup base is important to the hot pot, equally as important is the …

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… Dipping Sauces. They have four types of dipping sauces to chose from. The 1st order is free but if you want more, it is 50 cents extra. They gave barely enough for me … but certainly not enough for Suanne who dunks her food entirely into the sauce.

I have an ongoing issue with Suanne’s greediness for sauces (and soup in general). Without proper supervision, she ends up taking 75% of the sauces. You gotta watch her when you dine out with her — she can do it very stealthily. LOL!

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The Beijing Sesame dipping sauce (the one above) was OK. Actually I did not like it as much. I just felt the richness of it does not go well with hot pot … other types of food maybe, but not hot pot.

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However the other dipping sauce we had (the Point Zero Special Sauce) was perfect. It was a little spicy, sweet and sourish at the same time. It does lend balance to the already spiciness of the soup base. Go for this one. They are quite stingy with this because it came in a smaller bowl compared to the Beijing Sesame Sauce.

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For condiments (do you call these condiments?), there are seven to choose from. It appeared to us that they were not fresh and looked very dried up, especially the green onions and cilantro. It seems like they were leftovers from their lunch seating (or heaven forbid, yesterday’s!).

Oh, the fresh chili … we dump the entire thing into the soup base. Makes it a lot more spicy. Nice … more kick.

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Midway through, I ordered a beer to help wash down the food. I also needed a cold one because it was getting hot and stuffy. Let me tell you how stupid they were.

When I ordered it, I was told that they have a special promotion going on. If I get one bottle it is $4. If I get two, it is just $5. I thought one is more than enough for me and said no thank you. They kept on pushing me for two repeating how great a deal this is. I relented and said OK since it was just 4.5% alcohol, two then … and the wait staff walked away smiling … like he was very pleased he got me to buy two.

I waited … and waited for 10 minutes and there was no sign of the beer at all. I can see from the vantage point of the raised tables that no one was working on my beer. So, I reminded that wait staff for my beer … he forgot about it … and he blamed it on the people at the counter. You can’t do that in front of the customer. If someone forgot, just say sorry and get on with it, right?

Then when the beer came, it was just one bottle. I told that same wait staff for the other bottle. Guess what he told me … he said I wanted only one. Gosh … after all the push with me to get two bottles and feeling smug about, he totally forgotten about. Hello? Anybody home?

Service sucks big time here. Suanne and I shrug it away. There is no medicine to cure this kind of stupidity, unfortunately.

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Eating hot pot is really messy. We got splatter everywhere, including our clothes. It is here where I wish they have these serviette dispensers on each table so that we can wipe away the splatters. They only gave us one measly serviette each.

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We also ordered their Sesame Cake. It does look good doesn’t it? It was very “heong” for sure. But that was as far as it goes. It was tasteless and very dry. Forget getting this if you are here.

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Then a moment of insanity overcame us. Thinking that we could eat more, we ordered another round. This time, instead of ticking the items we wrote “1” instead to indicate we want only a small portion. We told them a little of each verbally too. These guys … they just nodded their head and then promptly brought out another full serving.

Not just one …

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… but three plates! The second round of the meat seems like it is more than the first round.

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There is also another big plate of tofu and mushrooms.

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There were also vegetables too this round. It came in two big baskets.

We were quite horrified. There were reminders pasted all over the place saying that wasted food is chargeable (can’t remember how much). But the funny thing is that they will REWARD you $5 if you finish $50 worth of order.

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That was a lot of meat left over. Oh well, this time we got to pay for it and so I thought. Since the meat sinks to the bottom of the soup base, we poured it back to the hot pot to hide the telling evidence.

We were quite sick of it by then.

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We just took a couple of spoonful of their delicious Fried Sticky Rice. It was really nice but there is no way we could eat the entire big bowl they gave us.

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It was a satisfying meal, I must admit. We had fun for sure.

We told ourselves “never again, no more AYCE” but knowing ourselves, we will forget this meal and go for another one next time. You should just check this place out yourself. It’s a Chinese restaurant … service sucks but if you overlook that, I know it will come across to you as an interesting meal as it was to us.

Total bill before tips was $50. Despite the poor service, we decided to leave a tip nevertheless … we are not THAT mean.

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If you go, let me know your experience.

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  1. Ah, you were 6 cents shy of getting the 5 dollar reward.

  2. I hate to say this, but judging from your description of the rundown restaurant and rude attitute of the waiters, it sounds like this is one of those money oriented not-very-ethical chinese restaurants that has no pride in their ware and their food. Therefore there is a very high chance that the soup base they used is recycled!! It is common practice in hotpot restaurants in China and I’ve been circulated video clips of such practices (can’t locate the videos now). Basically the video shows people at the back alleys of these restaurants pouring cigarette butt and used tissues laden pots of leftover soup through a sieve and into a large pail. After the pail is filled, it is again strained over and over again and then reused!!! Yucks and yikes!

  3. I went to this restaurant on July 15, 2009. Service was okay with this type of restaurant. What really got me was the nickel and diming all-you-can-eat menu!

    All we wanted was AYCE BBQ for $17.95. We were not so happy to learn that you if you wanted BBQ you would need to have hot pot as well. We were already there and wanted BBQ so we said yes to the $24.95 price tag. We were not so pleasantly surprsised to find out that the AYCE hot pot did not include the soup, which was an additional $5. We then had to pay an extra $2 for the dipping sauce that goes with the hot pot.

    The $1 pop drinks were a good deal. I chose not to have one (despite the waitress forcing me to say yes) but my husband did. When the bill came, I saw I was charged for 2 drinks. At this point of the meal, we just wanted to leave. But I did deduct $1 from the bill before tipping just to make my own statement.

    Bottom line: food was decent but I will never go back again. What was supposed to be a $38 dinner became a $60 dinner. No thanks! I miss Golden Bull.

  4. I hate to say this and many of you may disagree with me, but welcome to the Chinese culture of dining. I’m Chinese, lives in Vancouver and frequently dines in Richmond. My family and I are numb to the poor service and like (Ben?) was saying in the post, you shrug it off.

    Plus, all you can eat is pretty much a label for “we are serving you crap quality for a cheap price” so if you’re willing to go eat AYCE, you should kind of expect it. May I suggest an alternative hot pot option – make your own hot pot at home! Ya, it’s more time and effort but the cost is definitely cheaper and it’s a great way to chat and hang with your friends comfortably in your own home…afterwards, just throw everything in the dishwasher…done! = )

  5. First off, I am Chinese. I just been to this restaurant Sept 7,2010. The pictures shown here is showing their good day side. When I went in, the table seems sticky and the waitress are really lazy or they simply don’t care. I had to self serve..go to the counter to get extra chop sticks and sa chai sauce and etc. And it wasn’t that busy.

    Bad: very limited food selection compare with other hot pot places in richmond. Beef quality is average. and only two kinds of beef to choose from. the sirloin one tastes really “rough”. only the fatty beef is avg.

    Good: add $1 per person and get unlimited pop and unlimited sour mui soup ( it is not a soup but more like a sour drink )

    This place is way worst than “small fat cow” and “cow boy” on alexander ! And Top Gun hot pot at crystal mall is way better than point zero.

    1. Hi noc: I agree … Top Gun’s hot pot is top notch … and Point Zero, well, we never had the desire to go back again. There are simply many others that are much better. Have you tried the Fatty Cow on Victoria and 53rd? We like that one a lot. Ben

  6. Hi Ben,

    I had been to this place before the name change to point fusion and it was quite good back then – service was more or less friendly and at least you got free soy sauce. However, having experienced many places since, I probably will not go back to it.

    However, I recommend you check out “Hot pot one” at Aberdeen on the third level – especially with Suanne. They have AYCE and not options, plus unlimited really good sauce – there is a cart on wheels that comes about every once in a while and the waiter asks you what you want in your sauce bowl. Everything from garlic, cilantro, chili oil, soy sauce, “da ban jung” (big board sauce) and more! can be mixed into your bowl. Not only that, but also free “suen moi tong”.

    I had the all you can eat and let me tell you, the shrimp and fish were excellent. Especially the fish. Service was wonderful, very friendly, though it was a busy night and sometimes we had to wait a bit for our orders. I was so full 🙂

    1. Thanks Pauline. Yeah, we had been to Hot Pot One before but not for hot pot though. We were there in the morning for dim sum. I like their friendly service. Sometimes you see a man outside the restaurant trying to cajole passerbys to come in and try their food. Their location is kind of odd though. Ben

      1. Haha, just posted today in another hot pot thread about Hot Pot One. Very good place…I guess now is the season for hot pot, so I’m just going back to your old hot pot places to see where I should eat next. =)

        1. Hi Ryan: Have you tried Fatty Cow on Victoria. I love that place. In Richmond, I wanted to go try the new hot pot place on Alexandra in the strip mall where Cattle Cafe, Beijiang and Michigan Noodles is. I heard that they are pretty-pretty good.

  7. The reason that the server’s pushed the beer on you is because the restaurant is obtaining an illicit deal from the Yanjing Beer importer.Basically it amounts to free beer or cash when the restaurant orders the beer. This type of arrangement is actually prohibited conduct on behalf of the importer. The restaurant does not have to pay for that subsidized second beer, the importer is covering the cost. It is an inducement for the restaurant to order the product ( in this case, Yanjing Beer.) The importer knows better and knows this is not allowed.

    1. Hi Michael: Can you tell us more about how this deal works? How does the importer make money when they are virtually giving away the beer? Do they bottle the beer in North America or do they import the beer directly from China? Ben

  8. Hi Ben Having bumped into this tactic abroad overseas where that tactic is NOT illegal.Basically the manufacturer gains market share by subsidizing the importers sales with free or almost free beer.that being said the importer of Yanjing beer was my seatmate at a recent political dinner and She seemed like a very aggresive person who was eager to push her product.

    1. Hi Pinoy Gourmet: Help me understand this. Why would beer importers give away beer at a loss just to gain market share? What good would that do in the long run? Ben

  9. Hi Ben,Its not a loss,They write off the free beer as a marketing expense and make the profit later on,The classic model is to subsidize to gain market share then make money later on with higher sales

  10. Hi Ben,

    Despite what Pinoy Gourmet may think or what the importer may say, offering inducements to encourage a restaurant to order a paticular product is prohibited in the province of BC. The rules are there to prevent unfair and subsidized market presence. The importer of Yanjing will offer free beer or cash as an inducement for the restaurant to order the beer. This type of agreement may be common in China or elsewhere but is not allowed in BC. The importer of Yanjing knows full well that supplying beer this way is not allowed but as stated, the importer disregards established rules of conduct in order (in her mind) to gain market share. Offering free beer to do that is both prohibited it a poor business model.

  11. Hi Pinoy,

    Offering free beer no matter where the final charges may charged back too or “written off” is prohibited in the provicne of BC. There are reasons, very valid reasons why free beer or cash inducements are not allowed. Good old fashioned sales work is a solid business model not throwing around free beer or money to make a sale. The importer for Yanjing has been doing it in BC for a very long time and has been told a number of times by the authorities to not offer free beer or cash to restaurants as an inducement. This importer has chosen to ignore the rules and conduct herself as she sees fit.

  12. Just to let you know that Beijing Sesame dipping sauce is one of the traditional sauce that you use for dipping for hot pot in china. Also, the pancake you said that’s tasteless and covered in sesame is another traditional northern food most people in China eat for breakfast. It says Beijing cuisine so you should be expecting traditional northern food. Different culture has different taste for food and just because you don’t like the food doesn’t mean other people won’t like it. Too bad you didn’t try the skewers because those are typical northern style bbq food especially the lamb with cumin. Maybe next time you can try read up on the specific cuisine before you head out.

    1. Hi Cat: Maybe you read the reviews of this restaurant yourself. My opinion of Point Zero Four Fusion is my opinion and it may differ from yours. In this case and according to widely read reviews, just because I did not like the food DOES mean that others does not like the food too. Let me put it this way … just because YOU like the food does not mean I like it too. Please do not be offended if someones’s opinion differs from yours. There are a lot of differing tastes and expectations and if you react to everyone you could end up an angry person. Ben

  13. Old post – but apparently the chicken wings “bien tai” spicy are ridiculously….spicy…that is…

    1. Hi Ryan: Sorry, I am not following you. Are there new items in their menu? Ben

  14. “Cynical as we are, we thought the reason it is so cheap is because they wanted us to fill up with water instead of the more expensive meat items.”

    Correct! So smart 😛 I used to work at an AYCE hotpot place, management pressured us 2 push drink deals so people would be more full. $1 off is NOTHING if the drink is worth a dime.

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