Uhh... What Are You Guys Doing?

July 25, 2007

Lai Lai Restaurant
Address: 175 West Ave., Kitchener
Phone: (519) 579-3031

After months of whining, hinting and more whining, Andrew, Kevin, and I finally took up Jasmine on her suggestion of going out to eat Shanghainese food. According to Jasmine, it had the best dumplings and the rest of the food was also supposed to be good. I've had my share of good Shanghainese so I was interested to see what this place had to offer.

When the restaurant was finally around the corner (after multiple "I think it's this street.. uhh wait no, keep going"s) Jasmine said "See that bright yellow building?" Umm, yes, I do see that bright yellow building - it's bright yellow. At this point, images of seedy Chinese restaurants entered my head. "It's not that one, it's beside it". Oh phew, it's not the bright yellow building. As we turned the corner, we saw the actual establishment - a dingy white building. Great. So was it actually as good as Jasmine said? Well, here's my take on the whole experience.

FOOD: 3.0/5.0

Pan Fried Dumplings ($3.95) | The first thing that came to mind when these dumplings arrived was "Wow, they're big". But, after tasting them, they weren't much different from any other pan fried dumplings I've had. At $3.95 for a plate of 4, it's a decent price for the size of the portion, but don't expect over-the-top favours.

Siu Lung Bao ($3.95) | This appetizer was a disappointment. I've always thought of these steamed pork dumplings as an eating experience. Eating it requires special caution to ensure that the dumpling remains intact until it is in one's mouth. Only then can it be allowed to burst, releasing the soup inside. Unfortunately, we did not have the privilage of being careful with our dumplings because they came pre-popped. That's right, there was no explosion of flavourful soup to be had. What an anti-climactic moment.

Green Onion Pancake ($2.70) | These were my favourite out of the entire meal. This is what keeps the food score from falling any lower. With a fresh, crispy texture on the outside and the inside was soft, these pancakes were a delight to eat. It had me thinking of home, when we make them.

Fried Pork Cutlets and Noodles in Soup ($5.95) | Although the pork cutlets did have a good flavour, there were two things I didn't like about them. First, instead of giving a few large pieces of pork, we were served several small pieces of pork. It gave me the feeling that they were using whatever meat was leftover at the end of the day (it was getting close to closing time). Second, the pork left a weird feeling on my tongue, almost like a cool, burning sensation. I suspect it was because of the oil. Otherwise, this dish is your run-of-the-mill noodle in soup with a few pieces of greens and lots of noodles in soup (hence the name).

AMBIANCE: 2.5/5.0

When I first walked up to the front of the restaurant, the exterior looked like it was somebody's home. This theme was carried on throughout the interior d├ęcor. I felt like I had just walked into somebody's home. The walls were covered with green, floral wall paper and the basic layout of the restaurant looked like it could have been someone's house. I thought this was a pretty quaint idea. It gave the place a familar, homey feel.

When I sat down in our booth, I sank into the seat. As if it isn't hard enough, normally, to sit tall enough to reach my food properly, this dip made me look like even more uncomfortable for me to reach the table. Then, the longer I looked around the restaurant, the more seedy it became. The idea was no longer quaint, but cheap. Cheap because if this restaurant did, in fact, used to be someone's house, the owners sure didn't spare a lot of money fixing the place up to look like a decent restaurant.

SERVICE: 4.0/5.0, 1.0/5.0

There are two scores under this category because we had two (actually three) different servers but I'll divide it into 1. the little old lady, and 2. the teenage girls.

Originally, we had the little old lady. She was timid and had a soft voice but she was polite and very hospitable. We were seated promptly (the restaurant was pretty empty on this weeknight) and tended to immediately. The food didn’t take too long to arrive and the woman came to check on us frequently. So frequently, in fact that almost became a nuisance. Then, the old lady left (we found out after that she left to wait for the bus outside).

Then, the two young girls. I don't know what their problems were. They were cold and definitely did not have the same air of hospitality as our former server. They took their time to help us with the bill. If we could have found out who got the tip in the end, we would have made sure it was the old lady because who, regardless of what might be going on, rudely asks their customers "Uhh, what are you guys doing?" and give them the evil eye. Uhh, we're taking a picture of you of course, so we can write about you later because, silly girl, we're still sitting here waiting for you to come back with the bill.

Overall, it was an okay experience. I wouldn't say it was the best restaurant I've ever been to but I suppose I've been to worse. If I ever go back, I think one of the main reasons would be because of those cool lions in the front that you can sit on!


Jasy said...

*DYING with laughter*

OMG that was the BEST!
and in my defense, the times i went before I remember the dumplings being way better! but i'd have to agree with most of what you wrote lol

We need to go to more places so you can do more reviews. Although i doubt many places will have the character and humour of this one :P

andrew said...

hahaha i can't believe the picture of kevin and me on the lion was blurry!! lol..

i liked the pork :) but yeah the pancakes were my favourite too :P

Jasy said...

i think i was laughing too hard and the camera shook :(

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