So for us it has been a week of factory eating. First came Poutine Factory and now here’s China Factory. I do enjoy my food when it’s in factory form. China factory is a chain of restaurants owned by the CJ group, those wonderful people who brought us VIPS. I thought that it’s about high time that I started covering a few more chain restaurants. I know that we are very fortunate to live in foreign food heaven, but everyone isn’t as lucky as us. Korea is a pretty big country and some of you are flung far and away from the glittering lights of Itaewon. So I want to start covering more places that are found here there and everywhere.
We had spent an enjoyable and fun packed morning at the immigration offices and since we had cleverly made an appointment we had an hour or so to kill. What else to do than to go for lunch. The big Hyundai department is in Mokdong, brimming over with delectable delicacies from around the world. However we decided to go and pay China Factory a visit. I had been once before and enjoyed it immensely, also because it was lunch time I knew it would be cheap.
When you arrive they will give you a menu. For the set price fee you can either choose one premium dish or three regular dishes. Never one to believe that less is more, we opted to get three each. The menu is pretty extensive with lots of western style dishes as well as the Korean ones. You also get your choice of tea, access to the all you can eat dim sum bar plus fruit and ice-cream for dessert.
We perused the menu, chose our dishes, and set about attacking the dim sum bar. They had various fried and steamed dim sum or mandus if you will. These were fine but nothing special in the taste department. They did have the very adorable hello kitty dim sum as well as other various animals and cartoon characters. Although sadly they were filled with red bean which I find to be the most vile food on the planet so I couldn’t actually eat those but they were still cute none the less.
As we were tucking into our mandu the first plate we ordered came out. It was the Beijing style sweet and sour pork. I really liked this dish, the slices of pork were tender, covered in a crispy batter and smothered in light sweet and sour sauce. My only complaint was that the portion was far too small, by the time I had given Niall his share there wasnt much left. I could have eaten twice this much by myself! Other than that it was good.
The next dish to arrive was the Kungpao Chicken. This is Niall’s favorite dish so we had high expectations. Sadly they were not met. Although the portion was of a decent size the taste left a lot to be desired. It just had a kind of unpleasant bland burning taste that so many Korean foods have. There was no sweet or spiciness just a kind of numbing heat. Compared to one we had the other day elsewhere it really didn’t fare well. It’s a shame as last time we enjoyed it.
The Mongolian beef arrived shortly after and it had so many beansprouts on it I first thought it was something else. Since it has shrimps and squid in it, I think you can understand my confusion. The few pieces of bulgogi in amongst all that veg qualified as Mongolian beef. There was nothing wrong with the meat per se, I was just expecting large chunks of it in a sticky brown sauce. The real problem of this dish was again the bland burning sauce that covered it.
Finally things turned around as out came the lemon chicken. This was my favorite dish. The chicken was light, tasty, and covered in a lovely batter. The sauce was lemony and sweet. It could have had a little more zing but overall I enjoyed it. Again a bigger portion would have been nicer, luckily I had managed to trade off my portion of the il fated Kungpao chicken and got to enjoy this mostly to myself.
After the meat came the spicy fried rice with chicken and onion. It had the look and smell that you want in a fried rice, but sadly in my rush for fried rice I had overlooked the word spicy. It wasnt that it blew my brains out, I do enjoy hot food. It’s just after some of the previous dishes containing that same bland heat I was looking for a bit of respite. This rice was doused in flakes of red chili. Clearly someone in the kitchen was being far too heavy-handed with it. I’m quite certain that it wasnt that bad last time. The onions were crunchy and there was plenty of egg it’s just after all that chili I couldn’t really taste anything. The heat had scalded my taste buds rendering them near to useless and all the green tea in the world wasnt able to change that.
Last of all was the Singaporean fried noodles. These were fairly good and at last it was nice to eat a dish that tasted a little different. They were nothing to write home about in the taste department but a good way to finish the meal. It would have been good to have more noodles and less vegetables though. A common problem in Chinese noodle dishes.
Overall I think the review is more positive than negative and I would go back again. There are some nice dishes on the menu and plenty of others that I would have liked to try. I would definitely ask them to tone down the chili flakes though. After tax it worked out at about 20,000 each which is pretty fair considering the amount we got. Considering you get the tea and as much coffee as you like plus the fruit, ice-cream, and dim sum bar, I think it is worth it. You also get to try a lot of dishes at once , which is what I personally want from a Chinese meal. No, it’s not as good as Ho Lee Chow but it’s also half the price, and we still left equally as full if not more so.
We visited the Mokdong branch which is open from 11am – 11pm. Prices vary from 18,000 -26,800 depending on the day and time you visit. If you would more information about China Factory, including location and phone numbers check out their website. http://www.chinafactory.co.kr/