Very cheap eats: March 2011

China Bar

607 Station Street

Box Hill VIC 3128

Ph: (03) 9318 8238

Open Monday – Sunday from 11am – 4am

Kick yourself in the bum &

get yourself Dim Sum…..*At China Bar

Nestled near the Whitehorse/Station street junction is the bold signed yet distinctly unassuming China Bar. This is popular haunt for everyone from students to retirees seeking a low-fuss, easy snack on the go or quick bite with friends. The venue is clean, organised and immediately inviting for those who want their food ready as quickly as lightening, or those who enjoy the pleasant hum of background chattering as a side-dish to their meal.

As soon as you sit down a smiling waiter immediately greets you, comes to your service and promptly takes your order. This is even more inviting as the meals arrive hot and steaming in less than five minutes flat. Pinch yourself now.

Each dish is so cheap and so delicious that you are left wondering if there is some huge blunder on the menu prices or why there isn’t a queue in the streets that extends around the block. Or maybe you are dead and this is some alternate reality? Clearly China Bar is a diamond in rough when it comes to Dim Sum restaurants. Usually Dim Sum eateries in my opinion are notorious for bad service, shoddy food and unsanitary conditions, China Bar however, delightfully elevates itself well and truly above it contenders.

The staff are extremely hospitable, unassuming and constantly attentive without being annoying or pretentious like bees buzzing around your head. The tables are very neat and basically presented and the wooden chairs are actually pretty ergonomic. The modest Dim Sum menu is faultless, a great selection of tiny yet tasty Chinese treats to tantalise your taste-buds!

The absolute highlight of my outing though was undoubtedly the Calamari Thai Chili Sauce & Rice. Cooked to absolute perfection, those juicy seafood morsels were scrumptious and tender when accompanied by a very Moorish sweet & sour lemongrass Chili sauce which lingered on my tongue and memory long afterwords.

The only noticeable downsides for the pedantic among us (and I include myself sadly in this group) is that the staff uniforms were a bit, shall we say, unkempt? Ok, actually, downright dirty. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Also, the mains were unfortunately China Bar’s major Achilles heel. The noodle dishes were uniformly bland, unremarkable and gluggy. A real let-down. They truly could only be saved by lashings of the complimentary house Chili oil/sauce- which I might add is utterly delectable and highly addictive.

For once, I could totally justify happily stealing in public view of management but I just managed to resist the urge to sneak a jar of chili oil somewhere into my handbag. That would be rather messy experience anyway, I would imagine.

The serving sizes were unusually generous and I believe you- like me, will leave this restaurant not sighing and downhearted after perusing the bill but rather, fully satisfied and lethargically blissful. I noticed a few people rubbing their bellies as they exited into the street with guilty pleasure. I guarantee not only will you get great bang for your buck at China Bar, but prompt, reliable service, exceptional quality dim sum and a beaming smile from ear to ear.

All I can say is: “Yum-Yum Dim Sum- Get down to China-town for some ‘flava’ in your tum!”

– Yaelizaveta Ait Eshtehardi