Sometimes it doesn’t matter what the reviews say. If you put a dish like Crispy Lamb Ribs on the menu, I will show up. And I will drag Christine and Simon along with me. Like how we ended up at the Hello Kitty Diner…
And made this.
Simon is not impressed.
Crispy lamb ribs, $10
With sweet soy, mint, sesame seeds
Southern fried chicken, $10
With waffles, bourbon barrelled maple syrup
Gee Gee Burger, $12
Korean fried chicken, cucumber kimchi, pickled vegetables, Asian slaw
Sweet potato fries, $6
With Miso Mayonnaise
Doughnut Soft Serve
Yuzu curd and white chocolate milkshake, $8
Never has there been such a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to a menu. First I got all excited because Warren Turnbull of Chur Burger fame (and just all round chef who knows his food) designed the menu. I mean, how wrong can it get, right?
Then the deluge of reviews came through, and let’s just say that people were less than impressed. Quite a bit less. Reviews ran the gamut of saying that you’d go more for the kitsch of the theme than the food, to saying that it was downright nasty (I’m paraphrasing here). Either way, it didn’t look good for our tastebuds, but I was adamant on getting my hands on those lamb ribs.
Ahh lamb ribs. My second favourite of the rib variety – after beef ribs, of course – and I’m glad to say that this doesn’t change things. Lightly coated with corn flour, there was just the slightest crunch before it gives way to unctuous meat, the richness of which is enhanced with the sweet soy sauce. Because sugar is delicious, amirite?
The rest though, didn’t fare quite as well and fell into the “okay” category. The chicken in the Southern Fried Chicken was pretty decent, but the sad state of the waffles let it down. It was stale, and tasted like waffles that had been pre-cooked and heated in the microwave. Even the novelty of having it Hello-Kitty-shaped couldn’t save it.
The Gee Gee was in a similar boat, with a decent balance of flavours, but dry bun. It’s like you could see where they were trying to go with it, but they never quite got there.
The Sweet Potato Fries were pretty edible, but no where close to the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had in Sydney. Even with the miso mayo – and you know I’ll eat anything that’s got miso in it.
Of the sweets, the Doughnut and Doughnut soft serve was dutifully adorned with Hello Kitty themed decorations, but when it comes down to it, the ice cream tasted like plain vanilla – which is okay except when you’re selling it as doughnut flavoured – and the strawberry flavoured doughnut was so sweet that I’m still buzzing from the sugar high days later.
The real travesty, though, was the Yuzu Curd and White Chocolate Milkshake. It’s as if who made this never had yuzu before. It was faintly chemical in taste, and on top of everything, runny like the texture of milk. We all took a sip each, and the glass was banished to the end of the table, behind the water glasses.
I guess what Simon said really summed up the food, ” I wouldn’t be angry if I was served this again”. Sure, the menu is designed by a really good chef, but it’s a bit like Apple being designed in California – no one said anything about execution. With mostly okay-but-not-mind-blowing dishes, you really start to wonder how much the novelty of it all is really carrying the diner.
The Hello Kitty Diner seems to be staffed mostly by teenage girls, which seems fitting given the theme, no? They aren’t the most experienced of staff, but at least they don’t look like they were tortured into being there, which is saying a lot. They were polite enough, and we really appreciated the little things, like waters being replenished efficiently, but not much personality otherwise.
Well, this one girl did seemed sorry that we pretty much left the milkshake untouched, but that’s about it.
Value for money:
It’s not the most filling meal you could have at Chatswood, but $10 for a plate of ribs is not too shabby either. The burger was of a similar price and size to Chur, except for the drop in quality, so it’s also not the worst thing you could spend your money on.
But really, you’re there for the kitsch. Let’s not kid ourselves.
Value for money: 0.5/1
I actually love how the diner is decked out. It actually feels like how I imagined a Hello Kitty Diner would look like as a 10 year-old, and I like how they get the message across without shoving your face in it.
And we all know how I love a good theme. 😉
The Vibe: 1/1
There are no illusions here. The Hello Kitty Diner isn’t the epitome of fine dining, and you know what? It never said it was either. It’s there for the fans and people who love the novelty, and by the way, you can eat there too. All we could ask of it is that the food doesn’t suck, and in that regard, we were pleasantly surprised.
Just don’t order that Yuzu curd and white chocolate milkshake. Just please. Don’t.
Bonus Points: 0/1