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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At least it was all thinly sliced and does shrink a lot once it is cooked.
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!
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.
But once cooked, it should be OK.
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 …
… 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
… but three plates! The second round of the meat seems like it is more than the first round.
There is also another big plate of tofu and mushrooms.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you go, let me know your experience.