Food and the city..the hags are here to eat and then tell you about it!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


17 Wardour St
Soho, London

Tel: 020 7437 1398

Closest Tube: Picadilly Circus or Leceister Square

Average price per head: £16 per head, excluding alcohol


Dim sum restaurants in the heart of Chinatown are two a penny and are often overflowing with eager and hungry patrons, especially on a Sunday. Often its a great fun cathing up with friends for dim sum as the dishes are small and a large selection ensures that everyone gets their favourite. On this occasion, the appalling service and mediocre food served at Chuen Cheng Ku means left a bad taste on the overall experience. The final verdict - pass on this restaurant and head to the Laureate Chinese Restaurant, Golden Dragon or any others in Chinatown, unless rude service and average food is your cup of tea.

The day began like any other, with plans to meet a couple of friends in Chinatown for dim sum for lunch and a catch up. Things started off poorly when our friends who made a reservation arrived early but couldn't be seated as not all the party were arrived yet. This was insisted by the maitre'd, a woman who relished in her own sense of power by forcing customers to wait on the street even though the restaurant was half empty. After much negotiation, our friends were allowed to their table as they were hungry (and we were running a little late) and wanted to order starters.

But, we digress. Once everyone had arrived, food orders were flying. Chueng Cheng Ku is one of the few restaurants who still have the traditional dim sum trolleys, laden with freshly steamed dumplings, and wheeled to each table for your own personal selection. This can be quite a fun and interactive experience as one doesn't have to decipher the menu as some times the English menu translations don't work out too well. However, this restaurant has got a decent english pictorial menu and with a wide range of selections, which is always good. Sadly though, any vegetarians will have to suffer the short straw as there are only a few items on the menu. But for those non-meat-but-eats-seafood folks, you're in luck. Prawns, scallops and fish are popular items.

Moving vat of porridge! More food!

With the arrival of the food trolley, we proceeded with the usual suspects - steamed prawn dumplings (har kau), steamed pork and prawn dumplings (siew mai), seafood bean curd rolls, steamed pork buns (pau) and also chinese greens with oyster sauce.

Siew Mai

As you can see above, there were lots of choices but sadly for us, all was pretty average. The pork and prawn dumplings, although freshly steamed, was very reminiscent of the frozen packet dumplings that one can get at any Oriental supermarket. Similarly, with the prawn dumplings (also sometimes known as Crystal Prawn dumplings), its sad and plastic-ky prawns didn't do anything for the tastebuds. However, it wasn't all bad.

Steamed prawn and scallop dumplings Steamed prawn dumplings

The steamed scallop and prawn dumplings were much better - light and delicate, with smooth steamed pastry. Another favourite is the pork spare ribs with black beans - well, in this case it was more like pork ribs heavy on the fat and light on the black beans. Not exactly visually appealing, nor was it a treat for my tastebuds. And you think that one couldn't go much wrong with steamed greens - but if you look closely enough at the pictures, it was a little overcooked and thus lost quite a bit of flavour.

Spare ribs with black bean sauce Chinese mustard greens with oyster sauce

After polishing off the several bamboo trays of delicacies, it was onwards and upwards to desserts. Mango puddings are generally the favourite, with high expectations of a smooth and firm mango custard. However, looks were deceiving with nary a mango in sight but a rather plain and lacking in mango flavour bowl of pudding stodge. The almond jelly was the opposite - light and refreshing without being overly sweetened. So, on the whole a fairly average dim sum restaurant with the novelty of the traditional dim sum restaurants. With the poor service which was experienced through the whole meal, the table decided to forgo the service charge. This certainly didn't go well with our waiter who returned, expecting us to pay the additional 10% for non existent and rude service. Know your rights folks - service charge is discretionary and never be shy to stand up for your own rights.

On the whole, Chuen Cheng Ku was a fairly average dim sum restaurant but pricier than most. With the number of restaurants offering dim sum, the safer bet would be to head elsewhere. Who needs to pay for average food and poor service?

The Other Hag


Blogger Culinary Hag said...

Onya Hag! Yup mango custard my ass! More like water set with gelatin. Oh yeah. And a dash of weak orange colouring.

Mango? What mango? Was this dessert for diabetics? It had the sweetness of dull dishwater!

I could do better with absolutely no knowledge on how to make mango pudding. This was disgusting filth water!! Couldn't even finish it!!! Avoid this joint peoples!!


11:37 pm

Anonymous IndiePunk said...

Chuen Cheng Ku is a fun place to eat but I kinda agree that the food is lacking a certain something. The staff seemed to have problems understanding english and most of the time we had to take pot luck with what turned up, which is not ideal when you are with people who can't eat fish. The main problem with this place is it felt more like a manic trolly dolly convention than a restaurant and I did get slightly fed up with being asked "you want something" when its quite obvious that I had no clue what they had hidden in their trolly!! The bill for three people came to £58 quid which was a bit of a shocker.. but then I think most of that was drinks.

12:48 pm


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