Cheap eateries in the glittering wealth of far eastern cities are gold dust; think Saizeriya. As previously mentioned in another blog, my kitchen is the size of a shoebox, so I’ve been steadily building up places to dine.
In recent months I’ve come across a place called UNCLE – why it’s called that I don’t know, however it’s a chain and the more I see of Guangzhou the more familiar these seem to appear; in malls, and in the REDTORY arts complex (the latter even has a range of small toy buses as a design feature including an old orange Cardiff one which was a welcome surprise so good effort there).
So where is this leading you might well ask, well it’s not especially bad. The food from UNCLE is reasonable if on occasion a little bland and I suppose in the big city 26-39rmb is fairly priced though some dishes cost much more. So far it’s the closest I’ve come to the Chinese food from home, in other words westernised; the beef and mushrooms with rice being a particularly good find.
But there is a problem right? Of course and it is the waiting staff. They are nice enough, that is if you can get one to notice you. Unlike Saizeriya there is no bell to ring – and the dishes there are cheaper than UNCLE so if they can do it why can’t places charging more? The wait staff seem to either amble around at a snail’s pace with their heads in dreamland or several of them huddle around to watch the orders hatch for food appearing. How many does it take to change a light bulb I wonder.
The menus are big glossy affairs which is good, my only other gripe is they don’t even supply a free water (again no trouble for Saizeriya). You then need to wait up to half an hour for your meal; ok so at least they are cooking it – it isn’t just thrown together in a microwave but on this occasion I was too hungry to wait and I ended up in another branch of the other eatery. Time to check out the IKEA restaurant and see how that fares. Message to UNCLE please improve the slow service and can we, the customer have water with that?
*Footnote.. to be fair, a week or so later I was in the same store and that day the service was better but even though it was busier the previous time there were enough wait staff on duty to cover this – in my opinion of course. Also I asked for water (in Chinese, the staff don’t speak much English, so it’s possible some ‘lost in translation’ issues arise) and this time received some, so it’s a bit hit and miss who is serving on the day. Finally be prepared for your choice of meal to be sold out, it’s frustrating but it happens so have a second choice just in case.