“ON TIME” IS DEFINITELY “NOT”
It was surprising to walk into On Time Chinese Restaurant yesterday and see it was just as clean and bright as when it first opened two years ago. It’s a large, open, dim sum food hall type space with a traditional event stage in one corner, booths hugging the walls and large round lazy-susan tables running down the center…all crammed into the almost vacant, slightly decrepit strip mall north of Saraga International Grocery Store just off Lafayette Road.
A regular Friday afternoon lunch and no more than a handful of the fifty or so customers were not Chinese…good for the expectation of authentic Chinese food…but bad for service since it became apparent the key to getting your food served “On Time” was to yell across the restaurant in Mandarin what you wanted next.
After being treated by the hostess like an unwanted guest at a private wedding reception (and actually being frowned at by a male waiter), my pot of green tea turned cold over the next hour as large soup tureens, mounded plates of vegetables and wooden buckets full of rice (all ordered after me by the way) were quickly served onto other tables. At the one hour and five minute mark since ordering it was time to leave. Making my way to the door, the waitress ran up to my table with a small plate of chive dumplings. It was another fifteen minutes until the rest of the order arrived and then only after pulling two servers aside to demand the check.
It was hard ordering dim sum off their menu that had the chance of actually being made on location rather than thawed from the freezers of large Chinese food distributors in New York (not a single fresh vegetable dim sum on their menu by the way). The fried turnip cake and minced shrimp stuffed green peppers (Yeung Ching Jui) were the only items that tasted somewhat fresh from the kitchen. The rice in lotus leaf (Non Moi Gai) is better from the frozen food section in Saraga to boil at home and the pork dumplings (Sui Mai) which are always a traditional highlight of any dim sum meal, were just the right temperature to melt through the table down to the center of the earth. The fried shrimp and pork dumplings were tired and dull and the black bean sauce with the steamed chicken feet came from a bottle.
Weekday Dim sum in this town are far and few between (RIP Yum Yum) and they are all pretty much the same identical mass produced distributor bought giant bag frozen variety…but…at least you can get them other places without the attitude and “On Time.”
|Minced Shrimp stuffed green peppers and Fried Turnip Cake|