I’m sure that everyone here has been to a restaurant with rather high expectations, only to walk out extremely unhappy. I, myself, may have been to a lot of restaurants but you’d be stupid to think that I’ve loved every single one of them. I’ve suffered through overcooked dishes, snotty waiters, slow service, unclean water glasses, stale bread and hairs in my soup … and I’m talking about only one restaurant here. While I do document each restaurant experience and write the good bits as well as the bad bits, I will very rarely discourage anyone to go to a place that I disliked. In fact, I’m more likely to tell people how my experience went and then tell them to “go see for themselves” before reporting back to me. I mean, just because I had a shocking time at Scusami, it doesn’t mean that everyone else will. And just because I enjoyed Ezard, it doesn’t mean that it will become everyone’s favourite restaurant.
This time, though, I am about to write about my lunch at Sho Noodle Bar. I will write it how it was. But instead of writing my personal account and leaving it up to you guys to decide whether to take my word for it or ignore me, I am going to bluntly tell no, URGE you all to do yourself a favour and DON’T EVER SET FOOT IN THAT PLACE. Because it is probably the most overrated restaurant since Nobu in that their food was sheissenhausen and their service was slow. That’s all you need to know. If, however, you are keen on hearing the details then read on…
Okay, so Adam and I did the whole Easter Sunday church thing in the morning before taking the train into the city to meet up with Martin who was here for the weekend. Both of us were actually tired and would have preferred having a cruisy lunch in Glen Waverley or Box Hill but had to trek out to the city because of MARTIN. We had planned to meet at Crown at 2pm to try “that new 6 million dollar noodle bar” that has only been there for 6 months or so. But at 2:10pm, he still wasn’t there so I decided to call Martin who picked up and told me that he was still in Melton (??!?!). “Why the eff are you still in Melton? You’re supposed to be HERE!” I screeched at him. He then said something about going to Sarah’s Mormon Easter celebrations at her church and not being able to get out of there because she wouldn’t lend him her car or something like that. Something which would have been useful for me to know like, oh I dunno, about an hour ago?! I mean, c’mon man, you can’t go into the city? fine. Just have the courtesy to let us know beforehand so that we could rearrange lunch or something! What a waste of time going into the city and Adam wasted money buying a metcard *grumble grumble*
Since we were already outside Sho, we decided to have lunch there ourselves anyway. After all, we had come all this way. Right inside the main gaming floor (yes, you have to actually walk into the casino and be checked for ID – I actually like it when I get asked, I don’t feel as old – heeee!), Sho is an architectural masterpiece that makes you go WOW the minute you step into it. It’s like walking into a Shanghainese nightclub fused with an Iron Chef studio at the same time, with little decorative touches such as room dividers that resemble an abacus set. Apparently, the reason for setting up this place is simply a ploy by the big boys at Crown to prevent people from actually leaving the gaming rooms when they are hungry by eating at the food court as they might potentially decide to go home. By having this restaurant in the gaming room, however, they are keeping punters surrounded by pokie machines and hence, are less likely to leave. It’s sad, sad, sad but I have to admit, clever, from a marketing perspective.
We were seated in a den by the corner with a decent view into the open kitchen on one side while the bright lights of poker machines blinded us on the other. From looking at the colourful menus offering simple but not too extravagant offerings to the wooden tea menu that was this long, we were dully impressed.
(Oh and before I go on, let me apologise for the really bad photos. It was bad enough that the place was so dark that I could barely read my menu, but I would also like to blame myself for playing around with my white balance settings on my camera last night and forgetting how to put it back on to their original setting. Sadly, no amount of photo-shopping could make my photos pretty … sigh).
My 35 pu-erh tea ($9.50). I remembered having first tried this tea when I was working at an accounting business. The boss may have been a bitch but she had nice friends clients who have her nice things including cakes of pu-erh tea from China. I had no appreciation of tea at that time you can imagine how horrified my boss was when I told her that the tea was just “meh” (“But Libby, that tea cake was $1000!!”). Of course, I’ve grown a bit now and certainly, I could appreciate how awesome this tea was – so smooth and clean like no other tea. The black tea leaves continued to fuse as we ate our meal, creating a stronger earthier taste but nevertheless remained as clean as a glass of Asahi.
Our basket of “assorted dumplings” ($14.80). They were nothing that a below-average yum cha restaurant couldn’t make. The fillings weren’t tasty at all and the translucent skins on the scallop dumpling and the har gow were too gluggy, like Clag glue. Ugh.
A small serving of egg noodle soup with yong tau foo ($10.90). Now, apparently Sho makes all their noodles by hand so I was anticipating this soup to be something special. Imagine my disappointment, however, when I got a bowl (though I admit, a funky-looking bowl) of something that could have come out of Crown‘s foodcourt. The chicken broth was laced with more MSG than a packet of Twisties, the noodles nothing short of the packet kind from an Asian grocery store, and the “yong tau foo” pieces no bigger than a piece of Lego, each of them with fillings that were tasteless. Awfulness.
Never mind, we thought, we’ve got the lobster tails coming up! Now, originally we were going to go the wok-fried crayfish with honey chilli and spring onions ($39.50) but we were told that they were out of season. They did, however, offered us lobster tails in place of the crayfish for an extra $5 or so. That sounded good to us so off they went. At $44 or so, we were expecting something decent to fill us up for the rest of the afternoon but after our first two dishes, we realised that we should not have set our expectations so high.
That is what we got. It’s a bad photo, I know, and you’re not getting the whole picture… but please trust me when I say that this dish was extremely bad. Firstly, it was small. All that red would have been about as big as a pancake. And no, there weren’t any noodles beneath the mass of red. And no, those flat-looking pieces of red in the middle are carrots, not lobster. I will admit that the lobster tails were succulent and juicy but that is the only good thing I will say about this dish. The sauce was terrible, ruining the entire dish. It was too sweet, too artificial, thus marring the natural sweetness of the lobster meat. What a waste of $44.
We didn’t bother with dessert because we knew that it was going to be crap. Because no waiters were milling around our area, we had to get up to pay at the counter (we weren’t going to waste more time sitting around for the bill) where we were told that our meal was $92.10. $92.10?!?!?! I cried out, in my mind. For THAT crap?!?! While I knew it wasn’t going to be cheap, I wasn’t expecting a very substandard lunch to be almost hundred bucks! The chick at the counter didn’t even bother asking us how our meal was – I guess our faces told her enough. We were still hungry but we weren’t going to spend another cent at Sho so off we went for some dumplings once we were back at Box Hill (David and Camy, yo!)
For only $15, we got a plate of greasy fried pork dumplings and a bowl of rather bland chilli oil dumplings which clearly aren’t best in the world but mygoodness, nothing has ever tasted so good!
$92.10 for foodcourt standard food? No thanks!