Restaurant: Hong Chow
Location: 3462 Hazeldean Road, Ottawa, ON
Cuisine: Chinese/ Buffet
I’ve been to Panda Garden a few times now, so it was time to try out a different Buffet place. Hong Chow’s interior is much more modern and sleek compared to the cafeteria-like design of Panda Garden.
Although there were less choices in food items, the quality was much better! Ingredients seemed to be fresh and due to less items, trays were refilled more often. They served all the staples of Westernized-Chinese food, which I guess is really all you need:)
I started off with a plate of light flavors. An array of sushi and a small serving of Vietnamese Vermicelli Salad. Although there were no raw ingredients in the sushi choices I felt that everything was very fresh and well made. The pieces held together well and the mix of rolls had unique flavors. Of course, nothing comparable to an actual sushi restaurant, so if you’re craving for Japanese Food this is not the place to go but it was impressive for an affordable Buffet setting.
I thought the Vermicelli Salad was good. The vermicelli was a bit chewy, but I like love that liquid sweet and sour sauce (which you add on yourself;)). Not “wow”, but it was a good starter.
My first round of heavier items I just wanted to try a bit of everything. I have some Sweet & Sour Pork, Deep Fried Chicken Wings, Chop Suey, Sauteed Mushrooms and Fried Rice. The Sweet & Sour pork is always my go-to item at these places. I know it’s such the generic westernized-chinese dish, but I love it! The sauce had a vibrant color and thick consistency. While the pork was lean with a slight crispy on the outside.
The Deep Fried Chicken Wings were very dry. They also had a bit of kick to it in terms of flavor which was interesting. Although I didn’t really enjoy it because it was crunchy but then the Chicken meat continued with this dry texture. Water Please!
Although of people feel that these Chinese Buffets are so unhealthy, but they could always eat a plate of Chop Suey. The vegetables here are much more fresh than Panda Garden. The colors were still bright and I could tell they refilled each station quite often. I appreciated that the Chop Suey wasn’t overly seasoned or drenched in soy sauce (something healthy to balance out the grease:P).
The Sauteed Mushrooms were awesome:)! Had a sort of smokey flavor to them and a pleasurable firmness. With a light drizzle of the sauce it was perfection and went well with the fried rice. I actually liked the fried rice here because they refilled so often that I didn’t choke on any dry grains of rice (LOL).
For my second round I had some Spareribs, Chow Mien, Sauteed Vegetables, and Fries/Onion Rings with Sweet & Sour Sauce.
The Chow Mien was sadly incredibly dry! So dry that I smothered it in sweet & sour sauce to swallow. Overly salty and very hard to chew (this may have been because I got the last bits of it in the tray though :p).
The Sauteed Vegetables were fine, but not as great as the Mushrooms. The sauce seemed to coat the vegetables but the flavor wasn’t absorbed very well. So unless I drenched the vegetables with sauce, it was smokey but bland.
The French Fries and Onion Rings were clearly packaged and frozen goods. They were crisp but they didn’t even seem salted so adding sauce was a MUST!
I was most surprised with the Spareribs because they were so tender and juicy. The meat just seemed to fall-off-the-bone and the meat just absorbed the sauce all the way through. I regret not just eating a whole plate of this:)
My last savory helping I decided to go for things I wanted seconds of and to try out the Shanghainese Pan Fried Noodles. I thought the noodles were too doughy and overly greasy. Just seemed to lack any real flavor because it was just overly salty! Luckily I had some key favorites on my dish (i.e. Sweet & Sour Pork, Spareribs, and Sushi) to balance out the upset from the noodles.
How should I say this? Looking at the dessert selection I was utterly depressed. There was really nothing that interested me, I even had go to the salad bar to heighten my sweet fix:(. The brownie square was extremely dry and lacked a rich chocolate flavor. It was kind of a chore to eat. The sugar coated pastry was even worse! It seemed like stale dough with sugar poured all over it! The fruit salad was clearly canned and swimming in sugar water. Sadly, the fortune cookie was the only thing up to standard, but how bad could a packaged cookie be? Let’s just say if you like desserts, Hong Chow is not the place to go.
I think the biggest competition for Hong Chow in the Kanata area is definitely Panda Garden and there are strengths and weaknesses in comparison. Panda Garden has a larger variety and a more seductive display of desserts. However, I would still come back to Hong Chow because the savory items are the highlight of the meal. Hong Chow’s dishes are fresh and refilled promptly, which I applaud for a low-budget Buffet restaurant. It’s quick and you’re sure to find at least a few items to please your tastes buds!