Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ramen King

Main St
Box Hill, VIC 3128

Don’t get too excited. The ‘ramen’ portion of Ramen King does not refer to the delicious, hearty, slurpable noodles served in cloudy tonkotsu broth. What you would assume, by name, to be a Japanese restaurant is actually a Chinese canteen-styled eatery dishing up a conglomerate of food from different parts of Asia, though like most Box Hill restaurants, the emphasis is on Chinese food.  

Ramen King was just over half full when the family picked me up after work for an impromptu dinner. Browsing through their 15 page long menu, we came across what seems like every Asian cuisine under the sun – Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, and even a couple of Korean snacks. It took us a while to order, but once we did we were immediately handed the bill and told to pay up front. 

Beijing Boiled Pork Dumplings ($8.8 for 15)

My sister ordered a plate of Beijing Boiled Pork Dumplings ($8.8 for 15), which were pretty mediocre, especially given the price and quality of the dumplings you can get nearby. The filling was a little too sweet and bland, but at least the skin wasn’t gluggy. The chilli oil served with it was spicy, but lacked the wok-fried flavour a good chilli oil should have.

Spicy Pork on Rice ($9)
My dad, the perpetual chilli-eating carnivore, ordered the Spicy Pork on Rice ($9). This was fairly tasty, with paper thin slices of pork belly stir fried with a myriad of crunchy vegetables in a whole lot of chilli oil. It was also quite salty, which meant that the portion was more than enough given the amount of rice we had. Definitely not a dish for someone watching their health. 

And then we waited. And waited. And watched diners left and right get their steaming bowls of beef noodles (which I’ve had in the past, and found them to be pretty good), despite having ordered a good 15 minutes after us. After half an hour of waiting, my dad flagged a waiter down to inform him of our missing dishes, which were finally brought out a few minutes later.

Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Lemongrass Pork ($9.5)
Not accustomed to eating so late in the day, I wanted something light. Normally I would never consider ordering a cuisine in which the restaurant doesn’t specialise in, but there wasn’t much in the way of healthy Chinese dishes. So I ended up with a bowl of Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Lemongrass Pork ($9.5), traditionally a Vietnamese meal. A big bowl of vermicelli came topped with shredded lettuce, cucumber batons, tomato pieces, and a large handful of crushed peanuts. Mixed in with the bowl of fish sauce served on the side, this was a warm, filling salad that didn’t leave me feeling weighed down. The two grilled pork chops served on the side was generous in size and tender from the grill, but the lemongrass wasn’t very prominent. Overall, it was a simple dish done without mistakes, but with no stand-outs either.

Bread Vermicelli with Hot and Spicy Sauce ($5.5)

Mum ordered a much smaller dish than the rest of us, an entree-sized serve of Bread Vermicelli with Hot and Spicy Sauce ($5.5). The wide, but disappointingly soft strands of noodles was spicy and oily once mixed in with the sauce, but it lacked depth of flavour and was ultimately bland. At least it was more filling than it looked.

There’s a reason that Ramen King is only half full on a Saturday night in Box Hill, where most other places have lines out the door. The food is average at best, and the service is scattered. Forgetting orders at any time is poor form, but it’s even worse when the restaurant wasn’t anywhere near full. And being asked to pay up front just doesn’t feel very nice, no matter how it’s phrased. I say, if there’s no nice way to do it, then don’t do it at all.

Rating: 10/20 - bad service and mediocre food

Ramen King on Urbanspoon

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