Saturday, June 28, 2014

China Bar Signature, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

The China Bar franchise is dotted all across town.  Certainly, I’ve been to a few CBs and I’d classify them as a “only if you’ve got nowhere else to eat” sort of place.
As such, I’ve been skeptical of the China Bar Signature restaurants.  There’s only three or four of them around town and they’re a buffet style restaurant.  My standards for buffet dining is pretty high.  I’m willing to spend top dollar for a luxe and lavish and luscious buffet (think: Collins Kitchen and the Conservatory).  However, I’m wary of the places that claim to offer the same gastronomical experiences for a cheaper price.  To me, that’s code for “we’ll over charge you for average quality food”.
So, as such, I’ve never felt tempted to try CBS – definitely not at full price.  So when Beaker kindly offered a two for one dining voucher for us to use, I thought, it’s now or never.  The CBS in the city is fairly big and is split over two levels. 
The good thing is that there’s lots of options (there’s more seafood options at dinner, but the prices are more expensive), including about a dozen hot bain marie dishes, salad stuff, a range of deep fried things (spring rolls, curry puffs, etc) and...
...a cook to order noodle and vegetable station... array of individual serves of dim sum...
...sushi bar...
....Asian style desserts.
The following are some photos of the food we picked out.  I wasn't terribly impressed at the quality - everything was saltier and greasier than I would prefer.  The dumplings were okay but nothing exceptional. 
My cook-to-order char kwai teoh was good but quite salty.  Although you can pick how much noodles and ingredients you want for your serve, it doesn't really matter.  I had originally asked for a serve that's about a third of the amount that's on this plate.  It turns out that the chefs just add more noodles/ingredients so that it's easier for them to cook.  I find this pretty pointless since I didn't finish the noodles and they went to waste - especially considering there are lots of signs around asking diners not to waste food.
Bubba Chuck's favourite was the century year old and salted egg congee.  A nice smooth rice congee, but dearie me, you can hardly find any century year old or salted egg in it.  And, it was laced with MSG.
I didn't really eat that much of the savoury dishes.  So I soon started on the desserts.  While there's quite a range of individual serve desserts, they're not very good.  All the mousse-based desserts were not real mousse - rather, they all had an unappetizing gelatinous texture to it. 
Some of the desserts appeared to be pre-made, prepackaged and/or defrosted items.  I just had a tiny taste of each and gave up trying any more of the desserts.  The only good thing was the fruit. 
We also got some drinks to go with our meal.  Bubba Chuck got the freshly squeezed orange juice (I think it was $8).
And I shared some of Beaker's tea.
Food - 6
Ambiance - 7
Service - 7
Price - 5
I can't say I like CBS.  Despite the range of dishes available, I left still feeling hungry.  Food court quality food at fine dining prices.  I definitely wouldn't pay full price for this.
China Bar Signature
222 Exhibition Street
Melbourne 3000
Telephone: 9988 7778
China Bar Signature on Urbanspoon


Laura said...

So disappointing :(

EatAndBeMerryCrew said...

Indeed it was. But it didn't stop us from going to another CBS a few weeks later (lol!).

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