Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Yummy Kitchen

From the archives... Presenting T's review from the now defunct Yummy Kitchen.


Taste: 6.5/10
Presentation: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Atmosphere/Entertainment: 7/10
Overall: 6/10
Probability of return within 6 months: 55%

We ate: Szechuan fried rice, Lion’s head meatballs, Sizzling Mongolian beef, Shanghai dumplings

The impetus for visiting this newly opened restaurant came down to pure intrigue. From afar, the oversized sign bearing the name “Yummy Kitchen” gave us the indication that this restaurant was yet another standard Chinese cuisine eating place, however, on closer inspection, there was more to this place than first met our eyes. Peering in through dark windows of the unopened restaurant, an aesthetically pleasing décor was apparent – open spaces, good quality furniture, and a large and homely bar. Questions immediately started buzzing in my head: What was their angle? What sort of food would they serve? What would the service be like? These questions could only be answered by eating there – and so it was.

Entering Yummy Kitchen produced a strangely unique experience. I was stunned, that a restaurant clearly specialising in Shanghai cuisine would take so much care in the layout and design of the dining room. While the restaurant was visually appealing on the inside, I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic – I was brought back 15 years in time to a typical Sunday afternoon walking through Ikea looking for furniture; and that smell, you know the smell of furniture freshly unpacked from the box? It’s not an overly disgusting smell, however, it made for an amusing eating experience, and at times I almost believed I was eating in the Ikea café.

Fist impressions aside, there were more important issues to resolve at this point. As usual, we had two bottles of red wine that we were keen to enjoy. As we entered, the question was asked: BYO? Much confusion followed this simple question, although the result was us being seated and being allowed to drink our wine free of corkage charge. How strange. Subsequently we came to the conclusion that the did not have a BYO licence and were in fact doing something illegal, nevertheless, the managers desire for our business seemed to easily outweigh his obligations to the law.

Soon after, we met our waitress for the evening, a lovely and highly enthusiastic young woman who unfortunately mistook our request for “three spoons” as “three sprites.” However, she definitely scored points for personality and subservience. The second waiter, who was equally as enthusiastic, had apparently never poured wine from a bottle before – mind you, this did not quell his determination to complete the task even after my rice bowl and wine glass received equal portions of wine. Despite these interesting, and at times, baffling encounters, the level of service was excellent compared with what we have become accustomed to at most Chinese restaurants.

As the food arrived, we came to understand why the manager had insisted on pulling up another table along side our four seater table – the plates were ridiculously big. Not that I have anything against using oversized crockery; in many cases I find it quite enjoyable. However, the issue at hand was that we had come in with the mindset that this would be a traditional Chinese style meal, and therefore we would be sharing dishes. In reality it was not a difficult obstacle to overcome, more than anything it added to our already heightened state of amusement for the evening. The three dishes we ordered exceeded expectations (our expectations were quite low however). The flavours were traditional, without going overboard on their use of star anise. The meatballs were well cooked and flavoursome, while the dumplings were a light and refreshing change to our regular dumpling intake.

Being highly altruistic individuals, our dinner conversation had consisted of the potential for Yummy Kitchen to succeed in the highly competitive and multicultural Glen Waverley market. Our conclusion was that although they had earned points on many levels, the lack of a clear business positioning strategy could ultimately lead to their demise. Yummy Kitchen has tried to cater for both the Western and Eastern cultures abundant in Glen Waverley, however, with so many existing Asian restaurants on this strip it will be hard to break into the market. However, the outlook need not be so gloomy. Removal of the confusing sign at the front of the restaurant, and perhaps even considering a name change, while the restaurant is still young, could potentially improve its chance of success in the long term.
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