Being a Sunnybank regular, I've watched as Simmer Huang was gradually constructed at Sunnybank Plaza. Doing a bit of research online, I gleamed that they were a nation wide chain, with stores in Sydney and Melbourne, specialising in Simmer Pots. Although it managed to pique my curiosity, it proved amazingly difficult to get a table. On the opening weekend, I showed up at around 7.30pm to be told that they were full up and not to bother waiting for a table, so after a couple of days, I opted to call in and try to book a table, but was instead told that they don't accept table bookings, but did open at 5pm. Not wanting to eat dinner before 6pm, we headed there at 5.45pm to find a huge line, which turned out to be the line to merely grab a number to get a table (i.e. a line to join the queue). At the point of getting a number, I asked the waitress how long the wait would be, and was told one hour. We ended up finally getting a table at NINE O'CLOCK, despite the waitress assuring us multiple times that we would get a seat soon. Unfortunately for us though, at that hour, half the menu was already sold out. Dejected as well as annoyed at their poor time estimation skills, we left. After that time, my companion, although very frustrated, also had her interest piqued, and decided to line up at 3.30pm on Friday to make sure we did actually get a table. Heading there after work, I met her at the door at 5.20pm just as she was going in.
From my observations, I could already see that service wasn't that efficient. Despite having more than a dozen waitstaff on the floor, they didnt manage to seat everyone in the restaurant until almost quarter to six.
Noting the slow service, I made it a priority to make sure our order was one of the first placed, and made our choice very quickly (the hours of waiting obviously allowed us ample time to consider all options). Of note, in ordering a meat and seafood pot, we were told that the pot came with two more choices of meats so that we could customise our meal.
On our table were paper placemats which gave a thorough rundown of how the simmerpot was to operate. Naturally, we were very excited.
First to arrive was the chicken with chili sauce, which was actually very tasty and not too spicy due to the fact it was served chilled. The meat was quite tender and well infused with a sesame and chili flavour. We all really enjoyed it and found it a somewhat refreshing way to start the meal.
Our waitress soon brought out a bunch of plastic containers filled with ingredients to the cart next to our table, and proceeded to combine the pot as per the instructions on the placemat.
At long last, our meal was served. We ordered the meat and seafood pot, with the two extras being beef brisket (although we ordered lamb), and seafood stick. The pot itself was very tasty overall, and the sauces and seasoning was definitely very delicious with its homey spices, but there were a number of issues with the individual toppings. Firstly the prawns that were placed in the pot were already precooked, and simmering them for an extended period resulted in them being extremely overcooked. The chicken wings were quite large, and so the sauces and seasoning didn't absorb well into the meat either. of the dish, my favourite was without a doubt the seafood sticks which soaked up most of the yummy sauce.
One of my companions had ordered a bowl of rice to go with the pot. It came considerably later than the pot, and we were more than halfway through by the time it arrived. It was also a little undercooked, with the rice texture a little harder than I would have preferred.
We also ordered the shallot pancake, which was served freshly fried and crunchy, but very lacking in shallots. It was also a little salty for my tastes.
To round off, we also had the signature handmade noodles. Our waitress pulled the noodles right in front of us and put it in the pot with some extra soup.
The noodles were quite novel, but somewhat thick and doughy. It reminded me quite a bit of the thick cut type Shanghai Noodles, and didn't manage to absorb too much of the soup. Speaking of the soup, we also found it a slight shame not to be given bowls to appreciate the soup better.
Of note also, was that we were also charged for the two customised ingredients, despite being advised that it came with the pot upon paying. Telling the cashier this didn't make any difference in the result though.
Overall, I'd have to say that he food at Simmer Huang is alright, the sauces and seasonings making up for the significant discrepancies indicated above, but given the chaotic execution by staff, the dining experience left a lot to be desired.