Sherman's Food Adventures: Chill Restaurant & Lounge

Chill Restaurant & Lounge

*This restaurant is now closed*

For quite a while now, I've been eyeing Chill Restaurant & Lounge as a potential late night destination after hockey. However, their kitchen closes at midnight and since our games have been rather late, it's a no-go. Lately, we've run into a string of games that are actually quite early; thus it opens up a whole set of potential dining options. Seeing how Ben and Karl had visited Chill recently, it was on my mind once again. After our game, I suggested it to the team (more like told them) that we go try Chill. They all seemed quite willing, so off we went. Joining me tonight were Polka King, Milhouse, Boss Woman, Emilicious, Mr. Blueberry and Gadget Girl. That was awesome since we could try out so many more dishes! Yah, I don't mind their company either...

For a Friday night, the place was extremely busy and there was definitely a buzz. It could be the fact that most of the clientele were younger and/or the place is licensed (hence, alcoholic bubble tea!). Due to my expeditious driving, Polka King and I arrived earlier than everyone else and were lucky to secure a large table. As everyone began filtering in, we were given takeout menus since all of their other menus were being used. This was the first sign that they were really busy (an omen of things to come). Is it just me, despite the takeout menu being more or less the same as the regular menu, I find it less appealing to look at? Totally psychological I'm sure; but I wasn't even interested in anything until I got to look a the actual menu.

And about that menu... It's a real mix of items. There is a collection of "Asian" tapas mixed in with Taiwanese Beef Noodle and a whole whack of drinks and bubble teas. In some cases, the word tapas is used loosely to describe what is essentially "da lang" or Chinese late night portions of food. Mr. Blueberry and Gadget Girl decided to share a few "tapas" plates including the Beef Roll, Fried Capelin, Chill Tempura and Sweet & Sour Pork. The beef roll arrived nicely plated on a bed of shredded cabbage. Mr. Blueberry liked it and said it was nice texturally and taste wise. However, both the fried capelin and tempura were a bit off. Although the capelin was fried up nice and crispy, there was some odd taste in the oil. That was the same for the tempura. And about that tempura... Uh... Is it just me or does it just like a pile of poorly made fries? Actually, it is fish cake cut into strips and then fried. I can't see what does tempura has to do with this dish. Texturally it was neither crunchy nor tasty. Gadget Girl suggested that there should've been both a spicy dip and garnish on the plate. But the biggest problem was the odd oil flavour again. We can only guess that there was something cooked in the oil beforehand that contaminated the flavour. They disliked it so much, it was sent back. To the restaurants' credit, they took it off the bill. As for the sweet & sour pork, it was quite good. Rather than using fatty pork, we were amazed to find out that they used pork chop to make this dish. The result was a meatier version of this dish. Furthermore, there were nice big chunks of pineapple, peppers and onions within the tangy sauce. This dish was surprisingly a winner considering this would be the last place you'd expect find good sweet & sour pork.

Emilicious went for one of their specialties - Beef Noodle. However, when it arrived, it was a Tomato Beef Noodle. Again, to their credit, they took it away and returned with the correct version. With big ribbons of just past al dente noodles in a somewhat flavourful broth, this was an okay bowl of beef noodles. I found that the beef was actually quite tender, although they were in little pieces. Boss Woman wasn't all that hungry and ordered the Pineapple Shrimp. Presented as a fairly large portion for the price, it was good. She said both the shrimp and flavours worked well together being sweet. Not sure about the "oil" problem that plagued the other 2 fried dishes; but possibly the plethora of sauce hid any odd flavours. Now by this time, no one but Milhouse had received their drinks. We had ordered 4 bubble teas and only got one. He got the Cookies and Cream BBT featuring real Oreos. He thought it was fantastic.

For me, I started with the Mix & Mash. Okay, it's not a drink nor is it a box of Betty Crocker instant mash potatoes. Rather it is a mixture of items such as bean curd, seaweed, beef tripe, beef shank, chicken gizzards and beef tendon. I got to choose 3 for $6.99. I think they were trying to imply "mix & match" or "mishmash". Or maybe they meant to do that and combine the two. Just sounded funny to me... I ended up with tendon, gizzards and tripe. No one seemed too interested in trying it. Their loss! Everything was quite good with everything being tender and well seasoned. Thus, it was a bit of overkill to have so much salty sauce on top. I also liked the side of pickled carrots and daikon, very vinegary. Portion-size, I personally thought there should've been more considering other Taiwanese BBT joints give you a big plate full for the same price. I also added the Nikutofu Noodle as per Emilicious' request. She wanted to see and try it out. Resembling a type of Ja Jeun Mein, there were chewy noodles with a sauce consisting of dried tofu, pickles and meat with Shanghai bak choy and sprouts on the side. Not bad, probably better with thinner noodles; but alright nonetheless. I liked the sauce, it provided a bit of salt and sweetness without overpowering the noodles.

When Polka King got his Satay Lamb with Vegetables, we were confused as to what it was. He didn't even know it was the dish he had ordered. Somehow the description didn't lend itself to the actual product. However, he checked the menu and the picture was indeed a match. It's probably because the meat didn't look or taste like lamb. Good for those who don't like the gaminess since it didn't taste as such. The dish was okay; yet would've been better if there was less liquid. Funny how this dish was actually the first to arrive at our table and his second dish arrived last. Not sure how they expedite their food in the kitchen... So his second dish was the Salmon Rollies. It's basically blanched asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon. Pretty simple and okay except that the outer skin of the asparagus was a bit tough. Milhouse also had an order of the sweet & sour pork and he concurred that it was very good. In addition, he had the Tomato Beef with Rice. If you look at the picture, it sure doesn't look very tomatoey. In fact, it looks much like a brown sauce with bits of meat; however, upon tasting it, it did taste like tomato beef. That is very strange, especially since we didn't see much of any tomato at all. My personal thoughts are that it was passable; yet needs a little work on presentation and more meat.

So believe it or not, almost near the end of our meal, I got my Mango Milk Tea with coconut jelly. A full 20+ minutes after Milhouse got his drink. Once again, the drink was very good. Smooth, and not too sweet with plenty of mango flavour, this was refreshing. At this moment, Polka King set his timer to see how long it would take for his drink to arrive. Yup, another 20+ minutes and his Blueberry Tea showed up. Also very good. Poor Boss Woman, her Pina Colada slush arrived as we were all finished. I must credit the restaurant for offering her a fresh slice of cheesecake as compensation. Despite her long wait, she was in good spirits since her drink was also very pleasing. But still no cheesecake. 10 minutes pass. No cheesecake. Remind server. Another 10 minutes, no cheesecake. What? Are they making the cream cheese or something??? Mercifully, after another 10 minutes, we all gave up and just left.

Alright, to be fair, all the servers were extremely polite and apologetic for the slow food delivery, wrong noodles, odd tempura and even slower drink arrival. We had absolutely no problem with the service (despite the errors). However, it was essentially a comedy of errors and screw-ups. Yes, I realize that it's a Friday night and the place was packed (with one large birthday party as well). However, this is prime time for them and it's their opportunity to shine. Instead, they struggled mightily with every facet of their operation. C'mon, drinks should not come in 20 minute intervals and halfway or at the end of a meal. That's plain inexcusable. No matter how busy you are. Their drink menu is a page full, so if that is one of their specialties, there should be enough resources in place to produce them expeditiously. In terms of their food, it was hit and miss. Some things were good (S&S Pork, Beef Noodles, Pineapple Shrimp, Beef Roll), some were mediocre and some not so good (Tempura, Tomato Beef, Capelin). So there is definitely potential there. I must give kudos to them taking back the tempura and taking it off the bill. Of course a restaurant should do that; but that's not always the case at an Asian establishment. Also props to the complimentary cheesecake offered for the approximately 1 hour wait for the pina colada slush. Too bad it didn't arrive nearly 30 minutes after it was offered. I don't get it. Honestly I don't. I know it's a lounge and we're supposed to hang out and "chill". But it's very difficult to chill when waiting is not only a virtue, it's a necessity for drinks, food and even comps to make up for the wait in the first place.

The Good:
- Really nice decor and vibe
- Excellent drinks
- Pleasant staff

The Bad:
- Waits for food, drinks and even makeup items take excruciatingly long
- Pleasant staff; but slightly disorganized
- Some food items get lost in translation

Chill Restaurant and Lounge on Urbanspoon


trisha said...

wow, you have a lot of patience. i would be really, really annoyed by all that crappy service. sure they're busy but it sounds like a mess! and seriously, that tempura? i thought it was a plate of poorly made fries by looking at it. i wonder how many people order it and actually eat it...

Sherman Chan said...

Honestly Trisha, I wanted to like the place. I really do. But we really did suffer sitting there waiting and waiting. I wasn't even sure if I should click "I don't like" on Urbanspoon or not. But alas, after careful deliberation with everyone who was present at the meal, it was clear that no restaurant should operate in that fashion. Someone needs to fix the expediting of food and drinks.

Also, that "tempura" was disgusting... Dunno why they even try with that dish...

Unknown said...

I didn't see any comments or pictures about the scenery.

Sherman Chan said...

The "scenery" was definitely nice. Too bad it didn't improve the situation...

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