Hong Kong-ers love lines
. We line up for everything -- not in the obligatory manner. It's in a way that we were born to do it. Taking turns have become our way of life -- we take turns at the bus stop, at restaurants, at home, at play...etc Everything has to do with lines, and what's more prevalent to us about lines than popularity of new establishments? Big-deal places can brag all they want when they snap at you the next available reservation is 6 months from now, or a 22:00 table on a waiting list (last order 22:30), but the lines outside, made of physical human beings standing there, is a gesture to others that "This place has something going on and with this many people out there, it MUST BE good".
Most of the time, there is something going on and going strong among line-up places. Sadly, as much as I wanted to put a positive spin on the following, I found myself sucked into a downward swirling pool of nightmares throughout the experience, as if I were re-living the moments at 火山石
Mid-afternoon on a weekend at 火山石 was not crowded, surprisingly. I called in advance to make sure reservations won't be needed. Arriving there I realized the store was of decent size. It was mid-afternoon, and they were serving Afternoon Tea menu. We were given a set of menus to ponder upon, and just as we decided to order the popular favorites like the Seafood udon in pot, the waiter tried to maintain a decent smile and inform us that it was not available. OK, we ordered a few more times only to find out that none of the popular ones were available. "What DO you have?" (That was the last straw). The waiter handed over a clipboard too large for a tiny piece of paper with some choices of udon on it. For 2 seconds the list was good, then he grabbed the clipboard and started scratching off line after line until, only half of the items remained.
Me: What is that? What does that mean?
Waiter: Oh, we were really busy last night, and really busy earlier just now. These are the things we don't have anymore.
Me: Anymore? What about dinner?
Waiter: We will serve them at dinner.
You know that friendly gesture (half embarassment half goof) of grinning hopefully not to be yelled at? At that point it no longer worked. We did come all the way here and well, I was determined to find out just exactly how good it is that people rave about. We ordered the "Udon with Pork Bone Soup and Pork Cutlet
", and an iced honey Citron drink
to go with that. (Note: no snacks were available -- all the gyozas, wings -- not a thing)
It took less than no time for the udon to arrive. Resting in a container made of stone. It felt oddly familiar with PEPPER LUNCH. The faintly white broth simmered as strings of udon swam through it, with an egg atop. The cutlet would arrive later, that's a good sign. I took an exploratory dip into the still simmering broth as I realized, it had nothing remotely similar to a pork bone soup, at least it didn't taste like one. The udons were slightly chewy which was fine at first but then on the second slurp I'd realized that the some pieces of udon were chewier than the others, while some were flat out starchy and not cooked through in the middle.
The pork cutlet
arrived -- already cut into bite-sized morsels, It was crispy in the coating but the meat was a little too dry. The beverage of choice arrived chilled in a tall glass -- that bottled honey citron mixture with lemon slices and water -- was just about the most perfect thing on the table, also the only thing that did not require any kitchen work. I was astounded by the nodding heads in the neighboring tables, as if I was the only one who found the experience so far hideously terrifying.
Halfway into the udon, we notice a crack in the bowl
. That rock-made bowl has a crack that went all the way from the bowl's lip all the way to the bottom. We summoned the waiter to take a look. The smile was no longer there, We showed him the big crack, and to return with a obvious tone of blame. "It just cracked" and gave us that stare in the eyes like the ones a stepmom would send a child to the cold attic.
It got me thinking, all the popularity from all the lines of people waiting to be inspired by the latest invention of udon in stone pots. As it turned out it was nothing more than ordinary, The baseline of a good eating-out experience is the food, and then comes the service and everything else. 火山石 has failed miserably at that. The udon was inconsistent even if the udon was in the same bowl. The soup was bland as well.
The crack in the pot was not to be blamed for the entire bad experience, it escalated into something awful. The curtains of the bad experience were drawn the minute we stepped in it, and standing by this experience, my line is drawn at the lowest of low standards as well!
Iced Honey Citron Drink
Decor -- small space with simple decor.
Simmering Broth when udon arrived
Udon-- some chewy, some not cooked through
Crunchy coating but slightly dry pork cutlet
The Crack in the Bowl.
Iced Honey Citron Drink (which can be easily produced at home)
Spending per head: Approximately HKD25(Lunch)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 1