Tuesday, March 3

Food Review: Grand Park

Cuisine: Chinese
Price: Extremely varied!
Location: Gate B, Alexandra Park Raceway, Green Lane West, Epsom, Auckland
Website: http://www.grandparkrestaurant.co.nz/

Grand Park is one of a handful of premier Chinese restaurants in Auckland. With its packed, red abundant dining room and chaotic service it certainly leaves a lasting impression. At peak times, weekend brunch (for yum char) and dinners, the restaurant is busy to the point that even if you book, you'll have to wait for your table. Like many Chinese restaurants the service is awful, so be forewarned. 
The yum char is undeniably tasty, with a wide selection of dishes including the favourites. Of the many dishes I tried included belly pork, siumai, har gow and carrot cake, all were delicious and fresh. Like in Hong Kong, the food is wheeled out on carts and you simply pick your fancy. Don't see what you want? You can ask one of the staff and you may get it...Or you may have to wait for the requisite card to come by. The outcome seems to be depending on the direction the wind is blowing.
While the dim sum charmed, the dinner is another story.

On my last visit, we went for dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve. The food took extremely long to come out, to the point that we were portioned one dish every 20 minutes. When Chinese food is best shared generously, having to ration while you wait for dishes sucks! 
What was perhaps more offensive was the blandness of the food. As it was Chinese New Year, the dishes were of the more exuberant variety, but were tasteless at best. The salmon sashimi was squishy and decidedly fishy. The fried squid meat was clearly cooked from frozen. The sea cucumber dish; gloopy and banal.
Adding to the frustration of these delayed, dull dishes, we were still limited by the two hour table allocation. Yes, this is a restaurant where you are only allowed to use the table for a set amount of time! Despite the restaurant failing to provide us with all our food, we were still rushed out after our allotted time. In fact they were clearing away everything I didn't have my hands on (including my glass), as I finished eating!
While it was Chinese New Year, and it was extremely busy, surely a veteran Chinese restaurant would be able to cope with demand and plan accordingly? The ridiculously slow service, as well as inattentive staff, was insulting. The biggest slap in the face was that this meal cost in the high three figures. We could have gone to any number of high class, excellent, restaurants for the same price.

While Grand Park serves an enjoyable yum char brunch, the last dinner service was completely insulting and amateur. I certainly won't be going there for dinner again.