The Grandma’s is an overload to all five senses. It’s absolutely huge. Overlapping swathes of people, parties, hullabaloos, aromas and dishes of all kinds are everywhere. We waded through all this only to find it totally lacking in the taste department.
This old-style chain is popular enough to warrant hour-long queues. They’re busy from lunch right through to supper on a daily basis. We chanced an early tea-time weekend slot and waited a modest fifteen minutes to be called.
It takes another 15 minutes to be seated. The restaurant is a colossal maze of furnished private dining rooms, corridors of family booths and row after row of full tables, all to the heavy-wood theme of a bygone era.
As expected of a Chinese restaurant, the menu is also big. Here it is gargantuan to the point of being overwhelming. We took 15 minutes just to do a first pass and, almost exhausted, opted mostly for their signature dishes. It’s thankfully cheap enough, with most main dishes between RMB20-40.
At this price, the cold tofu (RMB3) and crunchy cucumber (RMB7) with a rich sesame sauce are both strong starters. The mixed “wild vegetable” (RMB9) is fresh and seasoned deliciously with garlic and chilli. From there proceedings derailed as poor dishes piled up. Both of Grandma’s grilled fish (RMB32) and lamb chops (RMB32) are deep-fried, overly spiced, under-represented in meat and disappointing. The fresh scallops (RMB6 each) are meaty but small, and the bamboo shoot pot (RMB26) overly oily. Even Grandma’s pork (RMB39), their fish-enhanced take on dongporou, is woody and dry.
We escaped the clamour with ringing ears. Large-scale second-rate Chinese dining has a time and place, but it’s not quite for us.