Lifestyle Eat

Fusion confusion

Written by The Panda

This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2014 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Shoppes Cotai Central
Sands Cotai Central
Open 11:30 to 23:30 (7 days)
Telephone +853 2885 2928

The Panda found himself paying silver service prices for uninspiring fair at Pink Grill at Sands Cotai Central.

I’ve been a huge fan of every restaurant in which I’ve eaten at Sands Cotai Central in the past, so when The Phoenix joined me after a meeting recently for a bite to eat at the popular Cotai Strip property I was looking forward to another great meal. After considering our options, we found ourselves heading to Pink Grill – a spot The Phoenix had eaten at before with the Dragon and Pai Yao, who I both rate as fair food critics.

The first thing I noticed when I walked through the front door was the word “fusion” being used to describe the food. This is always a worrying sign for me. “Fusion” should mean that a restaurant concentrates on a set cuisine but uses different culinary styles to give it a new look or flavor. Unfortunately, many places tend to fuse together different cuisines instead and they struggle to find their own identity as a result.

The décor at Pink Grill is pleasant. It features stone Buddhas perched on one side of the walls with some lovely pink flowers placed in front of them. Black and grey are the colors of choice and I must compliment the design team on creating a very comfortable atmosphere in which to eat. I could even hear the water cascading down the inside waterfall at SCC. To me, Pink Grill has a very Thai flavor to its décor.

One thing that annoyed me though was the bottle of wine and bottle of water sitting on every table for sale. This is a cheap and unnecessary attempt at upselling and one I find unacceptable at McDonald’s, let alone at a fine dining restaurant. If you want to spruik the water and wine, let the waiters do it for you. That’s their job!

After looking through a menu boasting just about every dish imaginable I settled on the set dinner menu. The thought of soup, steak and crème brûlée appealed so I was happy to fork out the MOP$498 price tag. While this is not the most expensive restaurant in Macau it is by no means the cheapest and at this price point I expected the food to be first rate.

The Phoenix had another meeting to dash to after our meal and wasn’t keen on sharing a bottle, so I ordered a glass of nice French red wine which was decent without being amazing. The maître d’ came around with a box of different steak knives for me to choose from. I found this to be a nice touch and chose a Persian looking device you might expect Lawrence of Arabia to be carrying on his belt. At least now I was armed and dangerous.

The Phoenix ordered the fish cakes and I was looking forward to the lobster and scallop soup from the set menu but I must say the soup was only average. The broth was too thick for a bisque style of soup and the flavor was overpowering. The seafood was very nice but with just one tiny little piece there wasn’t enough of it. The fishcakes were delicious – hot and served with a traditional sweet chili and cucumber sauce – although no different to the ones you would find in any Thai restaurant.

For the main I was served the rib-eye eight ounce steak, which I asked to be cooked medium. It was well cooked but a little tough. I didn’t get a great cut, that’s for sure, but at least the mash and spinach accompaniments were both very nice. It wasn’t a bad steak, it’s just that for the price they charge it was well below my expectation. They didn’t even ask if I would like cracked pepper although I was eventually given some mustard in a bowl. A grill that provides a choice of knives, then fails to provide a decent range of condiments? Pink Grill needs to do some homework!

The Phoenix ordered stir-fried chicken with dried chili and cashew nuts plus a side of fried rice. Both of these dishes were immaculately presented. The chicken was served in a bird’s nest of noodles and the rice arrived in a hollowed out pineapple. Why? I have no idea. The chicken was good but again not mind blowing and the fried rice was a real disappointment. For dessert The Phoenix and I both ordered the caramel brûlée. We consider ourselves to be experts in this creamy French delight and there was no need for them to bring it out flaming – all pomp and ceremony for the sake of it. The result was that the top wasn’t as caramelized as it should have been while the brûlée itself was fluffy, not thick and creamy like it should have been. The coffee, however, was surprisingly good.

To be honest, I think Pink Grill is suffering from a major identity crisis. For starters, the name is irrelevant to the food inside and they should chop their menu in half, then in half again. With so many dishes available, they would need 20 chefs to do it justice and this means too many things aren’t getting done to the level they should be. My first rule of thumb for any restaurant is “do a few things well, not a lot of things badly”.

When I talk of inspiration I’m referring to a combination of the food, service and setting. Elaborate presentation of average food doesn’t cut it … and putting bad rice in a hollowed out pineapple doesn’t change the fact that it is bad rice!