Ever go to a restaurant for dinner, and then walk out wondering what the hell just happened? Well, that happened to me, at a newly opened Simmer Huang in Eastwood.
Eastwood has always been home to many Asian eateries, with their own unique take on the dining experience. From barbecue, to grills, to the good ol’ deep fryer, this neighbourhood has certainly attracted its fair share of the weird and wonderful.
But sometimes, these unique experiences require, well, a little translation. And I’m not just referring to the need for English speaking staff. And before I get accused of waving the racist card let me just say that I think food should be accessible to everyone, especially in a country like Australia where you would assume that everyone can at least speak English.
Anyhoo, we walked into Simmer Huang not knowing very much about them. I deduced that it was some sort of cook-at-the-table hotpot experience, but had no idea what else to expect. We were presented with a huge tick-list type menu upon seating, which didn’t actually explain what we were going to eat, and how we were going to eat it.
And after cycling through a couple waiters and waitresses who couldn’t speak English or explain the system to me, I was told – in mandarin – that you could order one of two ways: Either a pre-decided hotpot that will feed two to three people, or pick your own ingredients and DIY your own. The food will then get cooked at your table in two stages: The first is a bit like a braise, with thick sauces and spices, and once you’ve eaten that, stock will be added to create a thick soup.
…So, you have to eat your one pot meal in two stages.
You know what? Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I just needed to put aside my sick need to understand everything about what I’m doing and just eat. After all, it’s just food right? How hard can it be?
Quite hard, apparently. A large sauté pot came out onto the induction cooktop built right into our table, and it was layered with butter, spiced veggies, fish, and sauces. So far so good.
They then clamped on the lid for the food to cook, and came back after about 15 minutes, the lid was lifted, and the food was given a stir, and we were told that we could start eating.
But, what about the noodles that I had ordered to go with the stew? Surely it must have been a simple oversight.
Uh uh. You are required to basically finish the food that was in the pot before they will add the stock and your noodles. And if it’s too much food for you, they’ll remove it into a takeaway container before proceeding, essentially noodle blocking me.
What is going on?
We then ate what we could, and then got to the noodle bit, which I was a bit full by then to really enjoy.
So we left, probably more confused than when we first went in, and completely turned off by the whole experience. The food itself was pretty good tasting, but not good enough to put myself through all the brain-hurt again. The service wasn’t up to par, and I’m sure my $35/head could be better spent in other parts of Eastwood, maybe at the other hotpot noodle place two doors down.
Now I’m just left with a noodle craving. DAMMIT.