Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bushuair Restaurant 聚湘村湘菜酒樓

Four consistent days of bad luck: Day One.

Chairman Mao is one of the eternally recognized leaders in China by the Chinese. Every traditional restaurant throughout China and not just restaurants but businesses as well, have a photo of Mao somewhere in the company. Whether in the office, entrance or lunchroom, there will be a photo (usually by the entrance).

So when I first walk in to Bushuair Restaurant and see the photo of Chairman Mao, it wowed me. I thought the food was going to be like something in China. In addition after looking at the menu, I seemed to have found a Northern Mainland cuisine restaurant in Richmond. Furthermore on the wall, the restaurant has a portrait of his words written in Chinese calligraphy which gives the impression the restaurant serves Northern Chinese cuisine with pride. However when the food arrived, it was a different story.


As for the interior, the restaurant resembles a traditional Chinese restaurant. To be exact, a middle class one in China. Bushuair Restaurant has booth seats along the wall, tables with red as well as gold tablecloths, and a few private rooms. Furthermore, there is a projector at the back of the restaurant which is tuned to a Chinese channel, and the restaurant imports wine from China.


STEAMED CHICKEN WITH CHILLI SAUCE ($13.95).
The mouth watering chicken is one of my favourite dishes but when not properly made, can be the worst which is the case here. Rather than reading the English on the menu, I read the Chinese which is a direct translation of "mouth watering chicken". But, this is far from it. 
The chicken tastes spicy because of the chilli oil and asides from that, there is no taste! As for the English translation, it is correct. This is nothing but "steamed chicken with chilli sauce". A proper mouth watering chicken needs a flavourful sauce and Sichuan peppercorns for that spicy numbing tingling sensation. In addition, some crushed peanut as well as more cilantro could have been added to show some more effort was put in. As for the meat, the chicken tastes slightly overcooked and chewy, although not overly as in jaw aching. Personally, I rather have plain steamed chicken than one with lots of chilli oil.

CAULIFLOWER IN BIG PAN ($12.95). 
The slices of pork belly taste tender and have a flavourful taste of ginger. As for the highlight, the cauliflower has a nice crunch and is not overcooked. In addition, the level of spiciness is a hint which builds up to a light mild. And to compare, Bushuair Restaurants' is different than Alvin Gardens' because rather than the heavy use of chilli oil (which I prefer for the taste and level of spiciness at Alvin Garden), the restaurant has a tastier soy based sauce with black pepper. 


BLACK-BONED CHICKEN AND GINSENG SOUP, SMALL ($15.95). 
After scooping out a couple of bowls, I thought could this be a Star Anise situation? However at the bottom of the pot, there are a couple of dates as well as bitter apricot seeds. Although the photo on the menu showed a lot more herbal ingredients… As for the soup, there is a rich chicken broth but no herbal or ginseng taste.

MAOS' BRAISED PORK IN BROWN SAUCE ($11.95). 
Giving the impression of a traditional Chinese restaurant and serving Chairman Maos' signature dish which is hard to mess up, failed. 
Maos' slowly braised brown fatty pork is a very unique and popular dish because it was one of his favourites. It is supposed to be fatty, tender and tasty. However, Bushuair serves the opposite and with a photo of Mao hanging in the restaurant, it is a total letdown. The meat resembles old cubed skinless pork which tastes dry as well as chewy with no fatty taste, tossed in sauce. In addition, the sauce tastes bland, is missing a few ingredients, there is barely any, and it lacks that "brown" taste. Overall, it pretty much tastes like a fast stir fried sauced up dish, although there is a hint of spiciness.

CHOPPED PEPPER WITH EGGS ($11.95).
The eggs are a traditional China homecooked style which is slightly over-scrambled but not overcooked. The scrambled eggs have chive along with red pepper, and a hint of spiciness. If anything, the eggs are heavy on the salt and for those who do not like over-scrambled eggs, I do not recommend ordering this.

HOT PRAWNS ($16.95).
The restaurant offers spot prawns as well as frozen, and we went with the generic because $38.00/lb is pricey for me. Especially when it is spot prawn season! As for the taste, the prawns are not overcooked and is the spiciest dish which has a medium spiciness. However, the prawns are not butterflied so there is not much taste because the flavours are not fused together. Although to be fair, the photo on the menu shows butterflied prawns. Perhaps an isolated incident?

COMPLIMENTARY GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS.
The dessert is served warm and tastes slightly sweet with a hint of shaoxing wine. As for the rice balls, they taste soft with a light chewiness.

TOTAL: $95.75 + TIP $14.25 = $110.00.

Overall we tipped 15% despite having no service as well as being served below average to average food at best, because… well, it is the norm. However, if it was up to me this time, I would have tipped only 10% because not many people order this much for two and I really did not like anything. Although to be fair, the owner did tell one of the waitresses to grab us a bowl of dessert, despite every table receiving one. And well, that is my weak spot. Kind gestures. As for the food, it was a disappointment asides from the cauliflower dish and dessert which are average at best.

STEAMED RICE, MEDIUM ($6.00).
POSITIVES
- Complimentary dessert
- Staff is not rude

NEGATIVES
- No service
- Below average to average eats
- One of the worst if not the worst, braised pork in brown sauce and mouth watering chicken (1.5/5)
- Restaurant could ask for a preferred level of spiciness. We thought the dishes would have at least a medium level of spiciness

LITTLE THINGS
- Unique dishes such as deer, frog and rabbit meat
- For those who do not like surprises, try to confirm everything at least a few times. We saw a photo of Chinese hairy crabs and asked the owner if those were available. After confirming four times with her saying yes, we confirmed again and the fifth time, she said the restaurant only offers Dungeness crab. Uhhh??? In addition, we asked for the price of the Dungeness crab and she quoted $48.00 for a 3lb. After we thought about the price, it seemed a bit too good to be true and after confirming three times, she felt a bit embarrassed and stated it is probably only 2 1/2lb. Do I sound crazy? Probably. But after experiencing some unfortunate situations at Chinese restaurants regarding seafood, I rather prevent mistakes rather than complaining about them later on

Food: 2/5 (cauliflower 2.5/5)
Service: 2.5/5

Bushuair Restaurant 聚湘村湘菜酒樓 on Urbanspoon

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