Saturday, May 19, 2012

China Bar Signature

If I hadn't been in a car at the time, I would have jumped up and down with excitement when I heard that China Bar Signature had opened a restaurant in the city. Their better known location is on the corner of Springvale Road and Burwood Highway, which is too much of a journey for a city slicker like me.

As I'd promised a friend that we'd head out to a restaurant where we could fill ourselves to bursting for his birthday, we ended up here in the first week they opened. With plenty of seats, we got there early yet it was only half an hour or so before it became a bustling hive of activity. The range of food on offer is simply staggering, from seafood, to soups, to yum-cha, to Chinese and Japanese cuisine, a grill bar, fresh fruit, a chocolate fountain and a shelf full of desserts.

Yes, I mentioned a chocolate fountain.

Chocolate Fountain

It wouldn't do to have dessert before dinner (unless it's a very, very special occasion), so we'll progress in a somewhat more 'normal' manner.

I guess the most logical place to start would be with the seafood.

Seafood: Oysters, Crab, Bugs, Salmon
They had raw and cooked oysters, crab, bugs, raw salmon and prawns. All the seafood was fresh and well prepared, and the sheer amount meant that we couldn't resist going back for a second, or even a third plate before we'd even looked at the rest of the food. We weren't the only ones - it appeared most of the other diners had the same thing on their minds (except for the kids, they seemed to have an aversion to seafood in general).

We eventually moved on from the seafood, but not very far it would seem. China Bar has a sushi bar that employs dedicated sashimi chefs who slice up the raw fish to order.

Sushi & Sashimi
While the range isn't extensive, there's enough to satisfy you if in the event you decide only to order sushi and sashimi (although I'm not sure why you'd want to at a buffet).

The yum-cha selection is limited, however I did go back for two of the dishes: the wrapped Peking duck, and the sesame balls.

Yum-cha Selection
Yum-Cha Selection
The duck on its own wasn't particularly good, perhaps being a touch dry, but when it was protected by the thin crepe layer, it was juicy and tender. I have a weakness for sesame balls, with their crunchy exterior and their sweet filling, but the rest of the dishes were ok, just not particularly memorable. I suggest a different restaurant if you're particularly concerned with excellent yum-cha. This place is about variety, not necessarily about presenting you with the best dishes.

I have to note that there's plenty of dishes I didn't try, including the usual Chinese restaurant dishes; stir-fries, curries, rice, noodles etc. . They just didn't really inspire me and I didn't want to fill myself up with food that I didn't want. The ones I did sample though were pretty average.

Various Dishes
You can see a second duck wrap in the background - they were good!

On the much quieter second level, there's a grill bar that lets you select a piece of meat or seafood which the chefs will then grill to order.

Grill Bar
There are roast vegetables too if that's your thing.

I was getting pretty full by this stage, but there was still the fruit, desserts, cheese, and of course, the chocolate fountain to try.
Fruit Baskets
I was pretty full by this point, so skipped out on the raw fruit. I had a nibble on the cheese and dried fruits though, and they were decent, although no better than what you purchase from the supermarket. 

Cheese and Dried Fruit

The dessert selection was enormous!


(Another sesame ball!) The quality was terrible though. For the most part, they were without character and just filled with sugar and cream. The macarons (which I dunked in the chocolate fountain) were try and tasteless. If anything let China Bar down, it was their desserts.

In any case, a buffet is there or provide variety (and to fill you up if you're a massive eater), so the quality isn't what you'd expect from a top-notch restaurant. The seafood is fresh, and for the most part, the food is decent (except the desserts which I will forever hate). Kids will love it though, but I think their dentists will disagree.

Another downside is that they don't make pricing easy; the seafood, sashimi, Peking duck and grill are only available for dinner (which are the best dishes in my opinion, so I wouldn't bother for lunch). This means that  lunch is half price, and they provide a relatively cheap high tea sitting. The prices are cheaper on Monday-Thursday, but they add a surcharge on public holidays. Check their website if you want exact prices though - I'm probably just confusing you here.

China Bar Signature (CBD)
222 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Mon-Sun 11:30am-10pm

China Bar Signature (Asian Buffet) on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Ah, that's exactly why I don't much like buffet desserts - they're always mass-produced-sugary-bombs. I do love the fresh seafood you got to have here though! :)