We attended a dinner hosted by a foreign bank few weeks back at Gong Chew Kitchen, Bandar Puteri Puchong. During the dinner, we tasted some of the dishes, but not all, as it was a social and casual dining session, and we did not stay till the end of the menu, as we had to rush off to fetch our daughter.
So the thought of trying the food there not for social purpose arouse, we found Friday night was kind of okay for me, Retna and Inez to dine there. So, we went. Called in advance to make a reservation, which the team was calling me non-stop while I was searching for car park (ended up letting the jockey to handle that since the place is a car park nightmare). They followed up, non stop.
Gong Chew Kitchen 港潮私房菜, provides dining experience in an old Shanghai ambient. According to the about section of its FB page, attentive services, like hosting friends, so one could dine here comfortably with family, or a feeling of dining at home (if your home decor or ID is old Shanghai theme).
So I checked the definition of 私房菜, also means Private Kitchen, could trace back to Qing Dynasty, where Tham family hosted dinner at the family dining hall, with maximum of 3 banquet tables, about 10 course dinner, must book 3 days in advance, and for many during that time to taste the Tham cooking, needed to wait at least a month.
Fast forward to current, Hang Seng Bank’s former staff canteen chef, Lee, started Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong, only to dine at his home. There are some dine at home menus I remember reading on the social media, as one of our former clients started cooking for his guests at his home in Singapore. I am not sure whether he is still doing it.
With that kind of name, you would expect, unique menu, followed by really special dining experience. Perhaps the menu would really like blown your mind away, since you may not have tried anything like this.
Our dinner at Gong Chew Kitchen was rather simple, since only three of us. We picked 3 items from the kitchen recommendations – pork knuckle, BBQ pork and fried squid, followed by spinach with century eggs in soup. Just that.
I would go with the service first.
(1) The person who took the order obviously does not understand the private kitchen really well. She went on to tell me to refer to the menu for the recommendations. I remember eating many times at Restoran LYJ in Sungai Buloh, not exactly fine dining outlet, but award winning chef(s). The team will always check what we like, for example, seafood, meat, plain stuff etc. And often recommended what was special on the day, such as curry pork ribs (which is not nice) or jelly fish with basil leave etc. So at Gong Chew Kitchen, none of that.
(2) We have the feel that, we ought to be really someone who is really important, or respectable (subjective) or well known (subjective) before we could really get the service we deserved. I observed that the when we asked (politely, like please, and followed by thank you) for refill of the tea pot, the tea pot seems to take some time to return to our table. I looked and noticed the tea pot was left some where else, as the servant needed to serve someone else request (maybe that person request of toothpick is more important than my hot water). I timed, at least a good 5 minutes for the tea pot to be some where else, left on someone else table, before returning to our desk. In that process, I looked to ensure no one stuff anything into that tea pot.
(3) Also the serving staff do not look happy, working as a team. Maybe, just my observation.
(4) Not tasting bad, but nothing spectacular. The pork knuckle (chef recommendation) is really normal. Tasted a bit like a Bak Kuk Teh, but Klang BKT beats this. It lacks the large beans to compliment this dish.
(5) Another signature dish – fried squid, is really just with Thai chili sauce.
(6) The only thing that tasted good is the BBQ pork, which still lack in something. The dipping sauce or sour powder or anything else to accompany it.
I noticed the serving staff cleaned most table after the patrons done with their meals, except ours. Took them some time to realise that we already done eating. So, during the cleaning, the team cleaned everything, really everything, including the tea cups and the mat. I noticed other tables, the serving staff will leave the mat together with tea cups and tea pot on the table. Since the patrons could enjoy some chatting before paying the bill. Well, not to us, Gong Chew Kitchen is telling Samuel Tan, “Show me the money!”
So, we did, showed them the money, and left, never to return again.