Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Po King Seafood Restaurant

The best way to put Po King Seafood Restaurant is a place that prides itself on two things: Arguably the worst possible customer service in the lower mainland of British Columbia (well, maybe next to Angel Cake Cafe), and good cheap dim sum.  I was there on the weekend with my parents amd despite the awful customer service, I'd probably go back.  First, for the food - it ain't bad.  Second, for entertainment purposes - watching the nasty boss lady tear some poor customer a new one was hilarious.

The place was pretty big, and it was just packed to the brim.  I think if a fire inspector came into this place, it would be/should be shut down as it must have been way over legal capacity. 

Awesome company policy posted by the entrance....probably for tax evasion purposes.

This is just a short clip of the the hostess of this establishment.  Apparently, she is the manager/owner and her rudeness is well known in the community.  In the video, she almost seems tame compared to some of the other things I witnessed.  I saw her actually tug on and pull on customer's sleeves and clothes when leading them to overcrowded tables, as if they were children or animals.  It was comical watching her tell off customers with her English/Cantonese (regardless if they were Chinese/nonChinese), all the while shaking her head and rudely gesturing with her arms and hands.  Haha, I saw her barking (quite rudely) in Cantonese to a family of three who clearly did not speak Cantonese.  They fully understood her body language without any problems though - there were no need for words.  Now, it should be noted that some of her staff were actually nice and almost apologetic in the way they worked....as if you tell the customers sorry for having such brutal treatment from the nasty boss lady.
Anyway, my parents and I were crammed into a tiny little corner, buried behind three other tables into a corner.  The area we were wedged into was supposedlly a private dining area that could be opened up with a folding wall.  The management decided to cram 5 tables into this tiny area (where there probably should have been only one large table), and servers had to reach over other tables to get the food to us.  If there were a kitchen fire, we would be dead....the things I do for food.

Now, if Ikea should do a little investigating about why they go through so many pencils, they should visit Po King Seafood Restaurant, and maybe some AYCE sushi places.  Ok, now enough moaning about how crappy this place is and on to some of the reasons to visit this place.  The hagow/xiajiao were huge, much like this other place I went to called The One.  Compared to The One though, Po King's hagow/xiajiao were light years ahead in terms of flavour. 

Here's a hagow/xiajiao next to a teacup.

The siumai were also massive, but they were a little off.  Usually, siumai is made up of pork chunks and sometimes prawn right?  Po King's siumai were made up of pork that may have been through the grinder a bit too long...well, at least on this day anyway. 
The steamed pork spareribs were big, and the portion was big.  The filler was squash, which is way better than this other place I went to recently that used tofu.  The spareribs were seasoned well and tasted good overall.  Big bones and lots of cartilidge, but you get what you pay for, and that's not very much.

My dad ordered springrolls, something he almost never does.  He usually doesn't eat springrolls, but on this day, he got them.  They were okay, lots of ground pork inside, skin was nice and crispy.  I should point out a this point, that because we were crammed into a corner and surrounded by tables, there was no way the dim sum carts would make it into where we were sitting.  The logical thing to do was whenever we saw a cart go by, either my dad or I pushed our way out of our cordoned off area, and picked up the food oursevles, while hanging on to our order sheet.  It was essentially self-serve (for hot water, for chili/mustard sauce, for extra napkins and for dim sum) msot of the time. 

This was something I never tried, and if word got out I actually liked a vegetarian dish, my friends would never believe it.  Anyway, steamed rice rolls with three different types of mushrooms. This was actually really, really good.  I would have ordered another one, but I wanted to try other dishes here.

Ah, my mom's favourite - the sesame balls....and not the ones filled with red bean paste, just these giant deep fried monsters....God knows why she likes these so much.  Anyway, these suckers were huge, but for me, not that exciting. 

Now, when I first saw this dish, I thought it was the traditional zhaliang (it's beyond me how you spell it), Chinese donut wrapped in the steam rice roll.  But I was fooled.  This was some weird new concoction I'd never seen before - fish paste wrapped in deep fried tofu skin, then wrapped in the steamed rice roll.  I felt a bit ripped off on this because I wanted the original.  This version didn't really do it for be because first, I'm not a fan of fish paste, second, the tofu skin wasn't really crispy and it was at times a bit tough and chewy. 

By the time this last dish rolled around for us, we were quite full, and our bill came out to next to nothing.  I couldn't believe how cheap this place was.  I thought to myself that despite the spectacularly crappy service, it would be worth coming back.  Then I went the can and found the typical filthy washroom that had condensation and moisture on everything, along with a clogged toilet and pee everywhere....and that's when I started having second thoughts.  Yeah, sure, there was a token checklist like most other places, but I seriously doubt anyone had been in there to clean since the night before. 

It's been a whole day, and I haven't been screaming to the toilet with any stomach trouble or projectile vomiting so I guess it must have been safe to eat there.  So, weighing the pros and cons, along with some health risks:  Okay, they're not serving raw food - everything is cooked and most bacteria and germs are probably killed right?  One can only hope.  The food is cheap, and it tastes good. 

The service is crap - so crappy that it was entertaining to watch.  I know, I'm usually a stickler for customer service and I'm also usually the first one to complain about crap service.  But compared to say, Angel Cake Cafe's idiot of a host/manager, I don't feel any sort of favouritism or discrimination from the nasty boss lady - haha, she hates everyone equally.  I guess when it boils down to the question - "would I go back?", I would probably say yes.  Haha, the place is so over the top, I'd have to go back, just to make sure it wasn't some weird dream.

Po King Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Hi Peter: Thanks for the video. I had always wondered about their service. The video doesn't look as bad as the service had been made out to be. There has to be a reason why Po King is consistently busy all the time despite the misgivings and all. I'll go check out this place, especially the Zhaliang. Ben

  2. Hi Ben and Suanne,

    Thanks for reading! Yeah, the video was really short and didn't get some of the spectacular things I got to see in person - she was way more tame in the video than in person. When I go back, I'll try to film her in her more "natural" state, lol!

    Yeah, Po King is busy because the food is good and cheap, and it seems all of the clientele was willing to overlook the nasty boss lady's rudeness. Besides, the staff themselves aren't that bad....mostly.

    I dunno about the zhaliang, fish paste seemed a bit counterproductive when you're expecting a nice crispy filling (a la regular Chinese donut), but try for yourself, it just wasn't my cup of tea.


  3. Honest and strict forward review, very refreshing to read. Thank you.


  4. Hi Food-Voice,

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to post. I try to be as objective as possible, but sometimes, I can't help but point and laugh....



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