21 September 2006

California Steak House, Shekou, China

Name: California Steak House
City: Shekou, Shenzhen, China
Address: Central Plaza, Sea World, across from the Ming Hua, next door to Starbucks

Website: unknown

Cuisine: Steaks and Seafood

Critique: The restaurant advertises an "all you can eat" bar-b-que buffet for both lunch and supper. The biggest signs outside the restaurant advertises "American beef and pork". I took a look at the buffet and it didn't look bad. There were very thin slices of beef, but the shish-kababs looked pretty good. It included a LOT of seafood, but it was squid, muscles, whole small fishes, etc. Inside however, the salad bar and dessert bar looked very good. The restaurant is tastefully decorated and includes indoor and outdoor seating.

Most prominent in the restaurant is a large screen TV. The evening I was there, they were playing re-runs of "Tom & Jerry" over and over. There was no sound, but they had nice classical music on their PA system. For me, the Tom and Jerry aspect took away from the dining experience, but I am sure my kids would have loved it.

I had the intention of ordering one of their "American beef" steaks. I settled on a piece that was not a conventional cut. The steak was two inches thick. I ordered it medium-well, but received it well on the outer 1/2 inch and raw in the middle. I sent it back for a re-cook. When it returned, it was medium well on the middle but very well on the outside. Without a doubt this is the toughest steak I have ever had in Asia, and perhaps in my life. I ended up cutting 1/4 inch cubes to chew; anything bigger and it would have taken me all night. The French fries and steamed broccoli that came with it were good.

I will brag on this: when I ordered the steak, I asked the manager how much the dessert bar would be to go with it, as the steaks were more expensive than the buffet. After a brief thought, the manager said that he would include the dessert bar at no charge. When my steak was finished, I really didn't feel like dessert, because my jaws were tired from chewing. However, the waiter brought over a "sampler" plate from the dessert bar with about 6 different desserts. The chocolate mousse was excellent as was all other desserts.

Comments/Recommendations: I would certainly recommend your not wasting your money on the "American beef". If, indeed, it was American beef, it came from some really old milk cows somewhere in New Jersey. I intend on another visit to see about the buffet, but mostly so I can get the dessert bar again. In fact, the dessert bar gave this restaurant one more fry than what I would have given it without it.

Rating: 2 Fries

Tivoli Ristorante Italiano & Bar, Shekou, China

Name: Tivoli Ristorante Italiano & Bar

City: Shekou, China

Address: Shop 117, Sea World, Shekou, Shenzhen

Website: www.itivoli.com

Cuisine: Italian

Critique: Location. Location. Location. Those are the top three things this restaurant has going for it. On the occasion of my visit, I was met by a friendly staff who were anxious to make sure I had a good experience. My intentions were to have a nice Italian dinner, but after I saw the menu, I decided to order a steak. It was cooked almost to my specifications. It included a trip to the salad bar. I must say I have seen better salad bars at school cafeterias. A bowl of mayonnaise and bananas should not be able to qualify as a "salad". I was delightfully surprised to receive a couple of pieces of garlic toast; it was very good.

For lunch, this restaurant would be appropriate for family dining; as with many restaurants in Shekou, evening dining would require an early entrance, due to the bar atmosphere.

Comments/Recommendations: I really would recommend ordering a steak. I will go back to try their Italian and update this listing at a later date.

Rating: 2 Fries

15 September 2006

Fat Angelo's, Hong Kong

Name: Fat Angelo's
City: Hong Kong
Address: 6 locations: three on Hong Kong Island at Elizabeth House in Causeway Bay, Elgin Street in Soho and Queen's Road East in Wanchai, one in Kowloon at The Pinnacle in Tsim Sha Tsui, and two in New Territories at Metro City and Tsuen Wan Panda Place.

Website: http://www.fatangelos.com/

Cuisine: New York Home Style Italian

Critique: Fat Angelo's is an immensely popular restaurant in Hong Kong and around Asia. Visitors to Hong Kong often head straight for Fat Angelo's to gorge themselves on all sorts of Italian delights. All dishes are served family style and you buy 1 dish for every one to two people. However, each dish is extremely expensive and most are just mediocre in taste. Where this restaurant really shines is in its service and family friendliness.

Now about the food...the best parts of Fat Angelo's are the free salad, the wonderful bread, and the desserts. You can "upgrade" to Caesar salad for a small price, but you don't get free "refills" on salad if you do. They also make some really great dinner rolls. Well, they are more loafs than rolls, but they have the rolls shape. Anyway, they bring baskets and baskets of bread. To me, that is a very good thing. They have a fairly large dessert menu which includes some yummy tiramisu, apple crumble, and some great cheese cake.

Each restaurant is tastefully decorated in 1950's Italian. The wait staff is attentive (generally) and really seem to want you to have a good time. They will go over-board to make your meal a success.

Comments/Recommendations: I recommend the Parmesan chicken, the cheese cake and the apple crumble, a la mode. I definitely DO NOT recommend the lasagna (the WORST I have ever had in my WHOLE life!), or the beef ricotta. For most dishes, Chef Boyardee makes better Italian. The high prices and low quality makes for an unfortunate combination. My kids ask for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich immediately after arriving back at home from at night out at Fat Angelo's. If the food quality was any better, it would have gotten a "4 Fry" rating, but because it is so poor, it will only get the rating below.

Rating: 2 Fries

09 September 2006

Gaucho Garden Grill, Shekou, China

Name: Gaucho Garden Grill
City: Shekou, China
Address: No. 3 Prince, Road, Shekou, Shenzhen Ground floor of Prince Hotel

Website: unknown

Cuisine: Brazilian Bar-b-que

Critique: This restaurants meets all expectations, if you are expecting a run of the mill Chinese style Brazilian BBQ. There is nothing special about it, however, the food is good. The management really has tried to bring a good "feel" of the restaurant; it has nice dishes, pictures of real gauchos at work, presumably in Brazil, and, of course, the pre-requisite silly cowboy uniforms, worn by the staff.

The main buffet section of the meal is located around the corner from the TV screen on the wall. That is good to know because service isn't too good and you might sit there for a while before you realize there is more to your meal than just meat. However, not much more.

The food buffet , while appearing on the surface to have a great variety, is actually stocked with items that you might have trouble identifying. On the occasion of my visit, the bread was stale-ish and there really wasn't much that looked appealing.

The BBQ is pretty good. During lunch time, they aren't just killing themselves serving the beef. They list beef, chicken, lamb, and pork. For the most part, the beef was tender. I didn't think they did a very good job on the pork, however. The chicken was pretty good. The mutton was OK.

Comments/Recommendations: I have had MUCH better BBQ in China. I have also had much worse. This was pretty mediocre; not too good, not too bad. I don't really have any recommendations for Gauchos. All you can eat meat at a good price. That ought to say it all.

Rating: 2 Fries