The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 1 July 2005

Ambassador Chinese Restaurant in Cannington

"Ang-mor" (literally translates to "red-hair") Chinese food, or as my Australian father-in-law fondly calls it: "White man's Chinese" (which is in no way a racist remark made on my part). This is the bastardisation of authentic Chinese food, which is becoming more and more popular in the so-called 'authentic' Chinese restaurants around Perth. If you were brought up on it, this is how you see Chinese food - battered, deep-fried, glazed and fluoro-coloured with lots of seasoning and grease. And expensive! Well, probably not expensive in Western terms (where it's not uncommon to pay more than $25 for a slab of steak and a miserable pile of salad), which is why these "White man's Chinese" restaurants are exploiting this mentality. You will rarely encounter a Chinese in their right minds knowingly venturing into one of these 'Chinese' restaurants, unless of course it is with their in-laws who happen to be "ang-mor" people i.e. me last week when Rob's dad and his family decided to take us out for a belated birthday celebration (hehe, one of the good thing about having split parents is that you get to celebrate all occasions twice!! It's a birthday tradition between Rob and his mum to have Chinese take-outs, so we'd also had "ang-mor" Chinese take-outs a few weeks ago with her).

Now, I understand that not all westerners prefer "white man's Chinese" over authentic Chinese dishes, especially not Rob (although he does like it occassionally), so any reference to westerners in my review below refers to the general majority.

My FIL (father-in-law) wanted "white man's Chinese", which was why we had dinner at Ambassador Chinese Restaurant. So we sit and decide what to order. We decided that each person will choose one dish and share banquet style. Hence these were selected: peking spare-ribs (Rob's), sizzling beef (Nana), sizzling mango chicken (Rob's sister), special fried rice (FIL's wife), some squid dish (FIL) and tofu claypot (me!!). I did think the menu offerings were rather limited, but it was only after our meal when we were looking at the desserts from the menu that I realised that there was a separate more authentic chinese menu at the back. Sigh, if only Rob and I saw that before placing our orders.. but, hey, we're here to have "white man's Chinese", right?

The dishes were quite pricey, each costing $15 and up. Serving sizes are normal. The same dishes at the more authentic Chinese restaurants in Chinatown in Northbridge will cost upwards of $11 each.

    The peking spare-ribs had a thick batter coating on it with brightly coloured sauce, and all I could taste was grease. It wasn't even crispy. Yuck. I could only bear to have one piece. According to Ian on Huey's Cooking, you need to have very hot oil for deep frying, otherwise the batter will just absorb the oil.
    Both the sizzling dishes were done okay, but not anything outstandingly good worth mentioning.
    Fried rice was okay at best. Something that not many non-Asians know is that fried rice is actually made using left-over rice from the night before. Next time you go to a Chinese restaurant, take a look around. You will notice a pattern - most westerners will order fried rice, and most asians will order plain steamed rice that would have been cooked on the same day. Once again, a means of exploiting the general westerners' taste for everything fried. (Note: fried rice is nice, and is a great way of using up leftover rice instead of wasting them by throwing it out. In fact, you need to use overnight rice to have nice fried rice).
    The squid dish was actually quite nice. How to describe it? It wasn't battered or deep fried, but prepared as a dish with a light gravy similar to the egg sauce used in hofun. The squids were nice and tender and not at all rubbery, stringy and tough.
    The claypot dish was also done nicely. But then again, you can't really stuff up on the claypot dish unless the cook is really bad.

Here is Rob's opinion of the food at Ambassador. As Rob mentioned in his blog, the desserts at least were nicely done. Rob ordered fried ice-cream for me to try because I've never had it before, and I have to say it is quite nice.

All in all, Ambassador Restaurant was okay. But it is definitely not a restaurant I would deliberately go back to nor recommend to friends and family. Rob's family seemed to enjoy the meal, and I guess that's why they wanted "White man's Chinese". To each their own.

1 comment:

  1. haha
    Honey: true about the fried rice thing...
    yesterdat having dimsum...white people were ordering...fried rice...i mean its dimsum as well...oh well, me and evie were having a quiet laugh over that fact...