Name: Great Century Restaurant
Address: 23 Greenfield Parade, Bankstown, NSW 2200
Phone: (02) 9796 3366
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.
Value for money: 5/10
(what do these numbers mean?)