I often think that a menu at a restaurant is a flawed idea. Why pick a dish that you want to eat, when you should simply be eating what the chef decides to serve you on a particular night? After all, they know which produce in the kitchen is freshest, and would serve you up the meal that’s best when you visit.
…no, I lie. Having choice in your dining options is a wonderful thing, which is why it was so confusing and slightly amusing when choice was taken away from me when I visited Chatswood BBQ & Hotpot last month as part of my Good Food Under $30 Challenge.
Walk into the restaurant, and it’s like you’ve walked into any other Chinese BBQ restaurant around Sydney. There’s the roast and barbecued meats hanging in the front window, with people popping in and out to buy containers of roast pork to take home. The decor is functional, with an emphasis on tiling and ‘easy to clean’ plastic tables and chairs. You get shown to a tiny table in a corner and have to squeeze past four other tables to get there. It has the type of atmosphere that I thrive on, that I grew up with.
K ordered a BBQ Pork and Wonton Noodle Soup ($13.50). He was served a Roast Duck and Wonton Noodle Soup ($14.50). Rather than ask for the BBQ pork that he ordered, he reasoned that roast duck was an equally good choice so happily started eating his meal. The wontons were full of delicious pork and prawn filling (and plentiful!), while the roast duck was firm and moist.
I ordered a King Prawn in XO Sauce with Rice in Hot Pot ($13). I was served a King Prawn with Ginger & Shallot with Rice in Hot Pot ($13). My first impression was “That doesn’t look like XO sauce!”. My second impression was “That doesn’t taste like XO sauce!” When I finally cottoned on that they had given me an alternative dish, I reasoned that I was too hungry to wait for another twenty minutes for another hotpot to be prepared, so started eating my meal. The prawns were cooked to perfection, with the rice at the base sticking to the hotpot for ‘chewy rice’ the way it’s supposed to.
The confusing thing about this dining experience is that our waiter had verbally confirmed both our orders audibly before passing it through to the kitchen. He had specifically confirmed that I wanted hot XO sauce, and that K wanted BBQ Pork – yet that wasn’t what we were served. Amusingly, we both received a dish that was listed underneath what we originally ordered on the menu.
It wasn’t a huge problem as we both enjoyed what we got, but could have been an issue if one of us was vegetarian and was served a meat dish, or if I had been allergic to ginger. Be prepared to order a meal when you visit Chatswood BBQ & Hotpot, but to have a different meal come out!
Overall, I rate Chatswood BBQ & Hotpot a 7 out of 10.