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Name: Great Cen­tury Res­taur­ant
Address: 23 Green­field Parade, Bank­stown, NSW 2200
Phone: (02) 9796 3366
Type: Res­taur­ant
Cuisine: Chinese

I’m sure it has been said that while one of multiculturalism’s great products is the great vari­ety of res­taur­ants we can choose from in Sydney, the Chinese res­taur­ants here are gen­er­ally quite lack­ing. If you’ve been to Hong Kong or else­where, the choice on offer in Sydney seems down­right ped­es­trian, and even if you haven’t, rude waiters and mediocre food are not uncom­mon tales.

The Great Cen­tury Res­taur­ant has had many a name over the years, but there has always been a Chinese res­taur­ant of some descrip­tion in the pink build­ing on Green­field Parade in Bank­stown for as long as I have known. While it has never been any­thing to sing home about, we always enjoyed hav­ing fam­ily din­ners there because we would get sea­food or some­thing else that grandma couldn’t throw together herself.

Unfor­tu­nately, it’s not quite the same any more. Now, vast amounts of uneven sticky-​​tape adorn the walls, hold­ing up spe­cials typed up onto pink sheets of paper — not quite the soph­ist­ic­ated look. The fish tank, the staple of a Chinese res­taur­ant, has been moved from its prime pos­i­tion near the entrance to one of the corners. Some of the waiters were rather cas­u­ally dressed — I’m sorry, but that’s just not on.

Waiters push­ing you to order never quite set the scene right. So we ordered, and we sat around for a while. We drank the com­pli­ment­ary arrival soup; it was lack­ing in com­plex fla­vours, feel­ing as though it were watered down or boiled with insuf­fi­cient ingredi­ents. Then we sat around for a while. Then one dish came. It was scal­lops with veget­ables — pass­able, if it weren’t for the fact that it was luke­warm. Some­thing gave me the hint it had been sit­ting around for a while.

So we ate the scal­lops, and twiddled our thumbs for a while, then the rice came, and then we twiddled our thumbs for a while some more. It’s a sure sign something’s wrong when grandpa got up to get the teapots refilled him­self. Not that the tea was any­thing spe­cial either.

The Pek­ing duck was prob­ably the high­light of the meal — a tan­tal­ising slither of duck skin wrapped in a pan­cake with a scal­lion, drenched in sweet noodle sauce. Luck­ily for me, there were extras and I couldn’t wait to grab myself a second help­ing. There was a little more fat than I would have liked, but hey, that’s what you get with duck.

Then, things mira­cu­lously sped up and the dishes star­ted pil­ing in; sud­denly the paucity of food turned into a feast. The fish was a bit chewy but the main con­cern was the oyster sauce — oyster sauce, I think, goes well with few things, and that fish wasn’t one of them. The noodles were soft and a pleas­ure to gulp down, but they were drenched in sauce. The crispy skin chicken looked like it had been hanging around for a while, and the rest of the duck meat came on a plate — not presen­ted in any appet­ising way, and it was pos­it­ively unap­pet­ising with the strange-​​tasting sauce that accom­pan­ied it. I love duck with taro, but there just wasn’t much duck and hon­estly, that taro didn’t taste very much like taro. We also had shark fin with some kind of veget­able — for­tu­nately, such a dish is always bound to be a crowd pleaser.

After the casually-​​dressed waiters cleaned away the plates and bowls, com­pli­ment­ary dessert in the form of sliced oranges and cook­ies were served; I didn’t have the oranges (I could smell the sour­ness from a metre away) but the cook­ies were nice, except that I don’t think they should have had a soft centre.

In gen­eral, I often find that the com­pli­ment­ary dishes a res­taur­ant gives away impact quite a bit on how I per­ceive them; how­ever, in this case, they should prob­ably worry about the mains first. The place just reeks of an atti­tude that they just don’t really care very much about you, or the food.

I’m just glad I wasn’t the one paying.

Food: 4/​10
Ser­vice: 4/​10
Ambi­ence: 5/​10
Value for money: 5/​10
Over­all: 4/​10
(what do these num­bers mean?)

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The Games Began. Hearts Swelled: Chinese pat­ri­ot­ism is a vary­ing and nuanced entity — from the per­spect­ive of an American-​​born Chinese New York Times writer.

19 Aug 2008 | No comments

Just a mis­cel­lany of things that I’ve been doing…

I’ve dis­covered Terra Polit­i­cus, an online game where you play a role in a fic­tional Aus­tralian fed­eral par­lia­ment. It’s part run by Daniel, and the attrac­tion is, I guess, that you can do stuff you can’t do in real life. In TP, I’m an annoy­ing journ­al­ist — it’s less com­mit­ment than being an MP and I can pop in and out and pontificate.

I spent an entire day listen­ing to little kids recite Chinese poetry, cour­tesy of Tommy, at the National Chinese Eistedd­fods… and I never want to hear another line again :) The non-​​native Man­darin ses­sions were far more bear­able, because at least I didn’t try to make sense of what they were say­ing. Funny thing — I ran into Josiah from IT, who happened to be a judge there…

I’ve also been going to people’s gradu­ations… funny see­ing every­one wear those funny hats. More ser­i­ously, it’s good to be there to con­grat­u­late them on com­plet­ing a major milestone.

Other than that, noth­ing much apart from the usual slog of uni work. Oh, and I upgraded my cousin’s laptop to Vista (the OS stuffed up and they didn’t have an XP CD). I evid­ently didn’t do my research before­hand, because a num­ber of their devices just didn’t work after the upgrade — driver prob­lems (but that’s because their hard­ware is a little on the old side). There were howls of protest from my uncle (who’s over­seas) because appar­ently “Vista’s crap” (para­phras­ing) but how would you know if you haven’t tried it? I think I made the right decision, because Vista helps with pro­tect­ing them from a prob­lem they’ve always had: mali­cious software.

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