Alvin Thomas’s dinner out is tainted by a less-than-delectable dessert while his sibling’s stomach is sated, and satisfied.
There’s something about dining in a mall that I find incredibly pleasing. As a matter of fact, I would rather have a quick bite at one of the malls here in the city than actually dine at a fancy restaurant after a hard day at work.
So, when I was designated official taste tester for Y this week, there was no doubt about where I was going to dine. It was only a matter of choosing the outlet.
My focus was the Five Guys restaurant at Muscat Grand Mall, which I stumbled upon via an email I had received a few weeks back.
Accompanying me for dinner was my brother, aka Captain Kirk, who said he had developed quite an appetite from lazing around the house the whole day. So without further ado, we headed to the mall.
However, even after half an hour of searching, we couldn’t find the outlet. So we resorted to searching online about the whereabouts of the joint, and that’s when it struck me: Five Guys hadn’t opened up yet, and was still only setting up base at the mall. Oops!
Our attention then turned to another food outlet, called Fish Hoek – in the far corner of the food court – that I had noticed a while back. So, naturally, without any haste we headed there for dinner.
In comparison to its surrounding counterparts, Fish Hoek is quite a funky and colourful-looking outlet, with wavy designs on the counter and background walls. However, we still had to resort to the seating area of the mall’s food court since there are no designated seating areas for this joint.
Still, the waiters were incredibly polite and well- mannered. They even remembered to wish us “Happy New Year” before handing us the menu and explained to us that Fish Hoek is actually a South African establishment that serves traditional African-style seafood meals.
Looking at Fish Hoek’s menu, I was quite surprised. It was an elaborate one, with loads to choose from. They have everything from fish and chips to grilled fish, calamari and even prawns. Poultry lovers can opt for chicken-style dishes, too.
My brother quickly opted for the Magic Red Snapper, while I plumped for plainer fare and chose (a large serving) of fish and chips with a side of fried prawn poppers.
The wait wasn’t too long; all our food was ready in less than fifteen minutes. I quickly dived into the prawn poppers and found them to be very tasty. The prawns weren’t what I would have called straight-from-the-ocean-fresh but because they had just been prepared, they were quite delightful. Needless to say, they didn’t last very long on my plate.
Meanwhile, my brother was quick to point out that his Magic Red Snapper was scrumptious. He also said that the snapper was extremely well done and that the seasoning was perfect, despite being a tad on the spicy side.
The servings were mighty generous too, with a side of mashed potatoes and boiled vegetables (carrots and broccoli). He also got a side of gravy, which he quite fancied. However, the vegetables were cold, and had probably been prepared earlier in the day.
Following the melange of vegetables were my fish and chips. The fillet didn’t taste fresh, and the batter wasn’t seasoned correctly. As a matter of fact, I had to resort to seasoning it myself using lemon and mayonnaise. On the up side, the fries were crunchy and freshly-prepared.
Next to arrive were our desserts. Both of us had opted for servings of Panna Cotta with strawberry toppings. Again, mine smelt really bad and even tasted very off. Moreover, I also found that the strawberry syrup tasted not unlike the cough syrup I used to have as a child. All in all, it was just a no-no for me.
My brother, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy his, and told me that his was actually not all that bad. Maybe the spicy fish had spoiled his sense of taste or something, but I wasn’t happy with my dessert at all.
In all, we had a mixed experience at Fish Hoek. My brother left the mall with a full stomach and a smile on his face while I had to actually resort to some late-night snacking before bed.
Don’t get me wrong: the joint isn’t particularly bad, but I believe that it is best to visit Fish Hoek early in the day – perhaps for lunch. My advice would be to opt for the Magic Red Snapper or other similar items, which will be freshly prepared. If you have noticed, my luck with recent Taste Tests hasn’t been too great for a few weeks now but I live in hope.
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Great service, let down by inconsistent cooking.