I had been up to my neck with work these days. Postings had been spotty. I thought no one will noticed but yesterday someone asked me if anythings the matter. Nothing at all. Just very busy with work when I had two projects dumped on my lap which excites me. So I had been giving my all to work and I reckon I’ll be in the same predicament for the next few weeks.
Today, am following up on one of the CRA Signature Dish adventure we went to recently.
We had never been to Kwong Chow Congee and Noodle House before although we had heard about this popular restaurant many times. Part of the reason is because they are far away from home. Part of the reason is also that someone was killed there some years ago. I guess it is still fresh in some of your mind that a well-meaning customer were killed in a botched robbery while trying to defend the restaurant. Sorry I had to mention that but it is just on my mind every time Kwong Chow is mentioned. Despite that sad incident, Kwong Chow had bounced back — business is as good as ever.
So you can also deduce that Kwong Chow Congee and Noodle House opens late. They opens for lunch at 11AM and does not close until 2AM.
On the drive to Kwong Chow, I had Nanzaro help read the reviews out load. That is part of my modus operandi to find out as much as before I go the restaurant and know what to expect and what to order. It seems like most of the reviews on dinehere.ca are really bad — most of it focused on their poor service.
We braced ourselves for the inevitable poor service but we are determined to go there nevertheless because we wanted to try their award winning Hong Kong Style Beef Congee.
As an aside … I was wondering if some of you could help me understand this better. You see the name Kwong Chow (Cantonese for the city of Guangzhou) is the capital of the province of Guangdong (also known as Canton). I think the work Kwong Chow means “state of Kwong”. So, how is it that the name of the capital city refers to the state/province? Understand my weird question?
The restaurant is super busy and noisy. It is very much like walking into a market. But then the dining hall is big, so we did not have to wait long for a table.
The decor wasn’t too bad. It had nice ink paintings, carved calligraphy board and things you see in a traditional Chinese restaurant. Some of the menu specials are pasted on the wall but alas it is all in Chinese — so it is lost on us. In all it has the ambiance of an old school Cantonese eatery.
I can immediately see where the poor feedback service came from. Despite the large dining area, I could only count four service staff handling all the while I was there. Poor service aside, I thought it is amazing how these four are able to hold everything together. No many people will be able to work in such high stress environment for long!
It seems like the way they deal with all these is to let a few balls drop as they try to juggle all the demands from the customer. I would say that their priority seems to be as follows:
- collect money from customer
- deliver bill to table
- take order from customer
- seat new customers
- deliver food to the tables
- deliver extra like water, condiment
We had to ask twice for ice water before we get it.
Worse off is when we asked for an extra saucer of the ginger onion sauce. It is really really good and we like it a lot. Well, it took me FOUR attempts reminding them before I got it. I think they were going to ignore me even though they keep on telling me “coming, coming” each time I ask them.
But I am like a pit bull. I was not going to let go. And I was not going to show I was annoyed. Each time, I asked I try to waste their time by talking to them until they gave that to me. Yeah … I finally got it after the food is half finished. 🙂
But seriously, I was not annoyed. I just know how busy the place is. I know many of you will not accept it but for me, I think I know how to work these type of restaurants. After all, Kwong Chow is popular and packed during meal times for a reason, poor service aside.
I like their Chef’s Specialty menu. You can’t go wrong especially when they have quite a number of exotic dishes listed even on the first page. It also has mouth watering pictures too. So that helps those who are not familiar with the food.
Many people come to Kwong Chow for their congee and noodles but you should really explore this other side of their menu.
The Chef’s Specialty Chicken is one of the best in town. I got to hand them that.
We ordered a half chicken for $9. The whole chicken is double that, so, no … it is not cheaper if you order the whole bird. If the half chicken is too big a serving if you dine alone, they also have a $6 serving.
I like the gelatin under the skin … lots of it. As you can see, the chicken is very juicy. The skin is … springy and most important of all, the white meat is not dry at all.
The ginger onion sauce is what brings the best out of the chicken. Well, except that if you want more, you need to demonstrate extreme patience.
One question I had in my mind when I see this is what gives the skin of this chicken the brownish colour? Soy sauce? Also, why are some versions of this chicken have bright yellow skin? I think there are difference, maybe regional differences … you know, like the Cantonese style is not the same as Hainan style or Chiu Chow or Hakka or …
Any expert out there who can help us categorize these various types of Chinese chicken … the bap jam gai.
Look at that!
Like all good Chinese chicken, it must be served boned in (as contrast to the western preference for breast meat). The bone is still reddish which is a sign that it is cooked with skill … just enough before it turns all tough.
Actually, we were at Kwong Chow for their award winning congee. The winning congee is the beef version but they do have some nice sounding congee too. The above are for huge bowl for 6 people. So, given the size and the price, it is just about $2 to $3 per person. Can’t beat this for value.
We opted for the Sliced Beef Congee Hong Kong Style $5 since we are here for this only.
The congee is good. Unlike some congee, it is not plain but is savory. So I can even eat this without putting in soy sauce to taste it up.
The peanuts, green onions and particularly the slivered ginger adds a different dimension to the taste.
The beef slices were substantial and the bowl has more beef than I would expect. I give this a thumbs up.
I know there is nothing to shout about as far as congee goes (it is after all food for the sick, LOL!) but still this congee has all the attributes of what a good congee should be.
While the congee is good, it’s other dishes that made this place exciting. Regarding the Chef’s Specialty menu which I only took a picture of a single page (up above), there is one section dedicated to ostrich meat.
We thought it was worth trying and got the Sliced Ostrich Meat with Snow Pea Pods. The small version of the dish above is $8. The ostrich meat sits on top of a bed of nice crunchy snow pea pods.
There are not a lot of ostrich meat though. The meat was good and not gamey. I am not sure if ostrich meat is supposed to be gamey but I just thought it could be.
I like the meat. It has a springy texture and juicy too …
Yeah … the juice was perfect and goes very well with rice. Needless to say we did not waste a single drop of the sauce.
At the end of the meal, we decided that we want to get the dessert. We were not rushed for time and we already expected this is going to be a wait before we get this delivered to the table. That did not deter us.
We got the creamy egg custard ($3.25). This is served very hot and true to expectation we had to wait 15 minutes for this. It was lightly sweet and it is like eating egg custard tart without the pastry shell. Nice!
The food in Kwong Chow is not spectacular but I must say that it is above average. The prices is good and the food is delicious. Just don’t go on their busy time when you’re hungry because I know people get really mad and angry when they are made to wait on an empty stomach.
If you can, don’t go and let the lack of service frustrate you. Otherwise, Kwong Chow is just not the type of restaurant for you. As I said earlier, Kwong Chow is a very popular restaurant and with all the reports of poor service, they can still pack the place day in day out.
Take a look at their take out menu. They are pretty much the same as their standard menu. They are clickable to show it in more readable size.