Tuesday, August 10, 2010
In a nutshell: lukewarm food, not quite fresh fish and no discount!
I wanted to try something different from my usual Japengo's so decided to try Chop Chop since the menu looked really nice. The restaurant is right next to the ski slope in Mall of the Emirates but it faces away from the snow which I found a little strange. I ate here a few years ago when they were having a ventilation problem (so I left stinking of food) but they seem to have fixed that now. It is open onto the mall concourse - same as most of the restaurants - so you can people-watch as you eat.
As the name suggests, Chop Chop is a Chinese restaurant. It is owned by the same group that owns Biella and sadly this experience was on a par with that disastrous one! They have an extensive tea menu, with the tea served in little Chinese teapots. A nice touch but the service lacked a smile and whilst the staff weren't rude, they were clearly just doing their job and that was it. We started with crispy spinach with carmelised cashew nuts. Sounded great, but there was a huge mound of crispy spinach and only a tiny sprinkle of nuts.
Mum and I both decided to go for the red snapper: mine steamed and hers crispy with a black bean sauce. The crispy one had vegetables cooked with it, the steamed one was literally just the fish in a sauce - luckily we had ordered stir-fry vegetables to go with it. As I picked up my first mouthful of fish I thought it smelled very fishy (fresh fish really has no smell and it certainly doesn't smell strongly of fish), then that it tasted strange. After sniffing at it for a while (maybe I was a dog in a past life since I seem to have such a sensitive nose!) I decided the smell was like smoked fish and that it was definitely not fresh. I sent it back and ordered sweet & sour prawns instead since I needed something quickly and prawns cook in minutes. The prawns were actually very nice with mango and pineapple mixed in with them, however they weren't hot. If they had just come out of the wok then how could they not be 'burning your mouth hot'? Mum's snapper was also not piping hot and we couldn't understand how. Is it all pre-made and they just warm it up in the microwave?
Real Chinese food shouldn't pose any problems to me in terms of intolerances. However, this food all seemed very much the fast food variety with packeted sauces full of wheat and MSG. The sauce on both the crispy snapper and the prawns tasted really good, but I just got a strong feeling that the kitchen had not made those sauces from scratch. I didn't suffer any negative consequences from eating them but I wouldn't go there again. The one good thing I took away from the meal was the idea of cooking prawns with pineapple and mango - lovely combination.
When we ordered the bill I expected that my meal would at least have been taken off, by which I mean the snapper (of course since it was off) and the prawns as a gesture of goodwill / apology. I was wrong. The snapper had been taken off (there would have been a real scene if it hadn't) but nothing else had. I didn't say anything but thought this was a prime example of the lack of customer service evident throughout the restaurant. The manager did come to apologise about the fish but a gesture - even offering us a free dessert or tea/coffee - would have gone a long way.
Labels: Dubai restaurant reviews - 2/5