Lunching Ladies at Prince Palace Chinese Restaurant

23 Feb

As an owner of a Canberra Entertainment Book, I’m always keen to try new restaurants on the promise of discounted food. Yep, call me a cheap-skate if you wanna! (*On a side note, sales for the 2012-13 edition of the Canberra Entertainment Books will be starting soon. I reckon keeping an eye out for them – they’re jam-packed with various discounts and you’re bound to find something that suits you. It only took me two vouchers in savings to recoup the initial $55 outlay on the book. Plus, the profits usually go towards a local sporting group or school, which I’m more than happy to help out. Ok, plug over!).


So when my friend and decided to head out for a last minute lunch on the weekend, we had a quick flick through my book and settled on the Prince Palace Chinese Restaurant in Belconnen. Colleagues at my old workplace had been there many, many times for the popular Yum Cha lunch, and had always returned with full tummies and content looks on their faces. A promising sign of decent tucker!


Upon walking in to the restaurant, we were confronted by an upset woman arguing with the staff. The woman and her party left muttering ‘what a terrible experience!’. My friend and I looked at each other worriedly, but decided to stick around despite the negative first impression – after all, we didn’t know anything about the reason for the quarrel. Once our presence had finally been acknowledged (gotta love it when the waitresses talk amongst themselves in Chinese and don’t pay attention to customers – makes me wish I could do a K-Rudd and join in on the conversation too!), we were ushered to a table by the window and given menus. We chose some lunch items and drinks from the menu, but indicated that we’d also be interested in checking out the Yum Cha cart. No problem, the waitress assured us.


My mate ordered the sizzling Mongolion beef with rice, while I went with a stir-fried garlic prawn dish. Both dishes arrived relatively quickly – and geez, were they sizzling! These prawns had definitely been freshly cooked. We tucked in to the food hungrily, and agreed that it was delicious. The prawns were succulent and the beef was full of flavour. Unfortunately, no yum cha cart was yet to be seen. We weren’t super hungry for loads more food, but we were hanging out to try some dumplings or pork buns. Admittedly, we were rather late for lunch – it was after 2pm, and the staff clearly had other things on their minds than taking the yum cha cart around to the few remaining tables. They didn’t come to check on us at any point after dropping off the ordered meals, so we gave up on the idea. A little bit disappointing – after all, Yum Cha is what Prince Palace is all about!


At the risk of sounding like a whinger, there was one other thing that kinda irked us during the meal. One young waitress found it necessary to vacuum repeatedly around our table. For a good 20-25 minutes. And you know how, when you have a kink in your vacuum cord, it makes that really loooooud, howling noise? Yep, it was doing that. None of the exasperated looks shot in her direction seemed to get the message across that we were struggling to hear over the roar. A great way to encourage customers to make a beeline for the door and let the workers clean up in peace, I suppose!


So we complied, giving dessert and coffee a miss (neither of which I’m a big fan of at Chinese restaurants, anyway). The bill came to around $30 for us both after the 25% discount – which isn’t bad at all, considering that our dishes were very generous in size. My friend kindly offered to foot the bill this time, handing over her credit/debit card and clearly asking to pay on savings. Unfortunately, the charge was still put it through on credit – which incurred a 2.5% fee. My friend asked once about reversing the charge but the lady refused, and my friend was too polite to push the matter. I know it would have only been a miniscule fee, but it was still a wee bit annoying. We left and yes, we had did have full tummies, but we weren’t completely content with our experience.


Anyway, I know that my review is a little on the negative side (sorry guys, I can’t be gushy-gushy about all my dining experiences!) but, you know what, I reckon I’d actually go there again. I’d try to aim for the busy lunch hour period, though – it seems that that’s when the atmosphere and food of Prince Palace is at its peak. I haven’t been to a true Yum Cha restaurant before (shock horror), so I’m pretty keen to try one out. If any readers have suggestions about reputable, well-priced Yum Cha restaurants in Canberra, send ‘em my way (and YES, I’d most certainly consider venturing over to South side, if that’s what it took!).


Well, that’s me signing off for now. Xie xie… zài jiàn! (There’s the extent of my Chinese skills right there… okay, fine, that would be the extent of my ability to Google English-Chinese translations… hehe).

Attendees: T2 and friend
Cost: $30 for two lunch dishes and soft drinks
Location: Emu Bank, Belconnen
Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile for the food, not so much for the experience.
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2 Responses to “Lunching Ladies at Prince Palace Chinese Restaurant”

  1. lidlfish March 31, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    I may even have been the complaining woman leaving with her party.. I jest. It was Mother’s day…My family sat and starved at Princes Palace.
    We watch the Australian-Chinese families being fed around us. Maybe they were there before us? No..We watched Australian-Chinese families arrive and get immediate service.
    Had they just overlooked us? No….We tried being polite and gently requesting food as the kids were getting restless.
    Perhaps we had a bad attitude? No..We watched families being shifted to less accessible tables mid meal, again to accommodate ethnic Chinese people.
    The racism was so blatant. In the end we gave up and left. I have never left a restaurant hungry until this occasion.


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