November 2, 2012

Crystal Dynasty

Crystal Dynasty use to be my go to place for Chinese food when I was in high school and college. During summer school classes at SJAM, I remember placing my order in the middle of class then dashing across the street during lunch period to pick it up. We ate like kings that summer!  As I got older, I became less and less of a fan because of the poor service. Just recently, I was reacquainted with Crystal Dynasty when a friend decided to host her birthday dinner there. It didn't take long for me to be reminded of the oh-so-many reasons why I won't be returning to Crystal Dynasty. 
The meal was preordered before our party of ten arrived so we didn't have to bother perusing the menu.  As soon as everyone arrived we were served hot egg drop soup. The food here is actually pretty good, flavours are on point and portion sizes are great. I don't have any issues with the quality of the food. In fact, I quite enjoyed the meal. 

The restaurant ran out of crab so they substituted with shrimp  for the 'crab claw' but it was still delicious. Next came the fried lobster and it was a favourite at the table. They took two lobsters  and cut them into bite size chunks, lightly coated them with flour, deep fried, then stir fried the lobster in a garlic pepper sauce. The deep frying creates a nice crunchy texture on the outside and the garlic pepper gives it a nice bite! It was hard not to pick the platter clean.  It was a touch on the salty side but still finger licking good. 
Next comes my favourite course, the pecking duck! These came with the usual savoury crepes, julienne carrots, green onion and cucumber with a light hoisin sauce. The peking duck is already sliced and ready to be assembled into the best duck taco you've ever tasted! I could eat these all day, every day.
The next courses are your standard dishes: steamed fish, fried rice, beef sizzling hot plate, stir fried crispy noodles, veggies and sesame balls for dessert. We all enjoyed eating family style but were getting a little frustrated with the lazy susan. The tables are lined with layers and layers of plastic wrap so the lazy susan was not staying put.
I love the crispy noodles because the crunchy texture of the noodles get soft and chewy with every lashing of sauce I slather on. There was an abundant of plump juicy veggies on top as well. There could have been more beef in the sizzling plate but by the time it arrived we all needed some greens to wash down the heavier protein courses that arrived earlier. The beef was very tender and soft and all the veggies still had a nice bite to them. I loved picking through the stir fry to get the crunchy water chestnut slices.
The sesame balls were nothing to write home about. They were too sticky for me with not enough filling - can't waste stomach space on just dough!

All the dishes were cooked exceptionally well. The seafood wasn't over cooked, the sauces were the perfect consistency and the meat was melt in your mouth. My qualms are with the service. The ladies who porter the food from the kitchen to the table are absolutely atrocious. There is not an ounce of common courtesy or politeness with these ladies. Not once did we get a smile, or a "no, problem. my pleasure" Nothing! In fact we got eye rolls, and sighs when we asked for glasses of water and a refill of our tea pots. It erks me to no end when a place is down right rude to their guest! Not one kind word was spoken to us during our ten course meal. When we asked for more hot sauce, water, or extra crab claws, we received a nod or a quick "yes, okay!" and that was it.  

Unfortunately my memories of Crystal Dynasty haven't changed at all. Although they've been known to extend some common courtesy towards Canadian patrons, that kindness isn't extended to a majority of their guests. 
Sadly, it's common to have less than friendly service at Asian restaurants because they're often running around tending to a handful of other tables, which in most circumstances, I can excuse. Not here, whether it's an empty room or a packed house, you'll get the same cold shoulder. Coming from a hospitality background, customer service is the number one most important thing to me and with service like Crystal Dynasty's, my money will stay in my wallet. 

Pictures for this post are courtesy of my generous friend : Chandary Sok. Check out her work here

Crystal Dynasty
94 Cannon St west
Hamilton, ON
Crystal Dynasty  on Urbanspoon


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