As some folk know, besides enjoying food, I like to eat in restaurants of all types and also writing about my experiences and provide critiques as if I were a restaurant connoisseur. Since reviewing Tang’s Oriental buffet restaurant, I haven’t eaten out since, unless you count a Kentucky takeaway, until yesterday, when I was part of a largish gathering celebrating the birthday of a family member, at yet another Chinese restaurant – Zen City (see here), situated along Hamlet Court road, with several other eating places nearby.
It happens in recent years, I have eaten there on a number of occasions, particular for meals with special interest or friends groups and twice for charity meals. While I have yet to give it full marks (and that is true whatever the restaurant), I have always gone away favorably impressed, so I was happy at the choice, despite it being twice in a row Chinese. We were there from 5pm to nearly 9pm – time went fast and agreeably, in congenial company. I even bumped into some friends – fellow diners, as well as spotting three rough sleeper friends passing by. With respect to Tang’s, while despite enjoying that experience, I doubt I could have stayed so long there, but then it is a matter of horses for courses, noting the similar prices and both establishments attracting my sort: good grub, plenty of it and inexpensive, and also, it is rather nice to be waited on by pleasant staff, something Zen City does but Tang’s doesn’t.
What can I say about the different things one usually looks for when eating out? We went for the great value set menu option, but which offered lots of choices (although a lot less than Tang’s) and as much as you wanted to eat, as well as being allowed to make special requests with no fuss, e.g.type of sauce or a special favorite dish. We were quickly served at the table by efficient, attentive and smiling waitresses, despite them being rushed off their feet that evening. Getting reasonably priced drinks at the bar, and free water, was no problem. We were served a range of starters to speed things up, although I would have preferred to choose. My wife thought her tea was ok but just that and my beer was cold! The food was very good and despite my resolve to pace myself eating wise, I still found by the time I was asked for my choice from the various main course options, I was nigh full up (too much spare ribs, crispy duck and prawn toast (and I love mussels and prawns) to start with, all yummy and moreish). The only minor disappointment was there was no choice of dessert – it was either ice cream or nothing, but then by the time we got to dessert all of us who had eaten were full and satisfied. Based on our experience, I am inclined to award 9 out of 10 marks in all the usual restaurant critic departments.
All in all it was a very pleasant evening. While the company was the main reason for that, Zen City did all one might have expected for it to have been enjoyable time. I am pleased to recommend this to other would be diners. All my group, ranging from the very young to the very old, and coming from all sorts of backgrounds etc., enjoyed their culinary and other experience. I hope Zen City continues to do well, although a couple of more staff on hand would not come amiss.