West End Gardens
With these posts, I've been trying to alternate between 'Dining Out' and 'Home Cooking' to keep things interesting. I really wanted this to be a cooking post but the fact is, I haven't made any food in a long time and am unlikely to do so for a while. This is what happens when you live with generous parents. I come home after a tiring day of clinic and think "I COULD spend time/effort making food OR eat what's prepared OR go out for food with friends".
This is why I have 2 restaurant reviews back to back. And not only that, they're both about places in West End.
We went out to West End Gardens last Friday for dinner. It was part of the usual routine of indecision followed by 'let's just drive to West End and see what's good'. Byron wanted Govinda's but it was closed. I wanted Little Greek Taverna but it was fully booked. Hien wanted Nandos but I kicked that idea into the bin. We had initially decided 'no Asian' but without anything else that caught the eye, we got lured into the 2 Vietnamese restaurants at the end of the strip. I've already blogged Viet Hoa before so I pushed for the other, which was West End Gardens. It looked a bit posh from the outside but the menu didn't seem to expensive so we ventured in.
I really dug the ambiance of the restaurant. It's undercover but has an outdoors feel, complete with a running waterfall feature. It was a cold night but warm around the dining area because of the abundance of heaters. I actually got a bit too hot so I switched seats with Byron.
The waitresses were very... sleek, slender and poised. They reminded me of the air stewardesses from Singapore Airlines. We were given chilled water with a slice of lemon (fancy!)
Ordering took forever because the menu is quite extensive. Also, Hien complicated things by alternatively suggesting that we get a banquet or that he just wanted a pho. We ended up ordering 3 dishes and coconut rice to share.
I picked the crispy beef strips because I've had something similar before at other restaurants and it was rad. This one was, as Byron accurately pointed out 'once was crispy beef strips'. They weren't very crispy at all and tasted a lot like bog standard sweet and sour pork, but in a different shape. Tasty but nothing spesh.
Byron selected cashew chicken. It was quite a clean dish. Tender chicken. The roasted cashews were awesome. Nice to eat but you know, it's cashew chicken. Don't expect your socks knocked off.
Our last pick was called 'Sunshine Curry' and the description claimed it contained chicken, beef and prawns. We just tasted 'meat' of some sort (unable to identify whether it was chicken or beef) and there were no prawns. I wouldn't have noticed but Byron was fishing around for them. Maybe we should have complained but it's a difficult thing to prove. It's hard to know WHAT'S in that curry sauce and you can't be certain there are no prawns until you get to the end, at which point it's too late. The curry itself had a nice creaminess and consistency but lacked salt.
Hien was dying for dessert so we ordered fried ice-cream for us and Byron got a coconut pudding. The fried ice-cream was a bit on the small side and the coating wasn't a nice, thick sponge layer.
It was a bit thin and by the time it was brought out, the coating was cold and the ice-cream was melting. Still tasted OK but I've had better.
I really hated the coconut pudding. It wasn't what I expected and I couldn't tell what flavors were there but just know for certain that I disliked it. Byron surprised me by saying he actually enjoyed it because it wasn't too sweet. It came with a little ball of ice-cream which he allowed me to eat. That part was good :).
Overall, I liked West End Gardens for the environment and service. It'd be a nice place to have dinner with friends either for a chat or special occasion. It makes you enjoy the food even though when you stop and analyze the plates individually, they aren't exactly amazing. That's what happened to me. I left thinking 'yeh I liked that place' but in hindsight, it was the overall experience that was positive rather than the food itself.