I have been meaning to check out this latest edition to Brentwood Mall. Many were excited when they moved in to the old home of “mmm…muffins” within the mall’s food court. (Although I am not familiar with their chain and brand) Brentwood was never really busy to begin with, but it has been seeing a steady decline in businesses and clientele due to the construction that currently surrounds it. The unearthing of ground to build several apartment high rises in the expanding area. Therefore “Bubble Waffle” is a nice edition, and something different to bring customers in, especially as there isn’t anything already like it in the area. And an easy way for those unfamiliar with such Hong Kong style cuisine to give it a try.
They were busy on a Thursday afternoon. Although no one stood in line, there was a wait to fulfill orders from their stand. The rows of empty trays pre-set with a single napkin, straw, chopsticks, and Chinese style soup spoon spoke to this. Therefore their roster of employees behind the counter made sense. Although they mostly looked like family members in how casual they dressed and communicated with one other, and even how they invited more individuals behind the counter to join them in conversation. They spoke Mandarin to one another, and all those that came up to them fitting the part. It had me feeling like I was in a Richmond food court. Naturally their clientele was mostly Chinese, many being drawn to the familiar cuisine and logo.
Their menu is easy to read, each available item made into a combo and depicted in colourful photo. Poster quality images covering every available surface.
Given my familiarity with the cuisine, I gravitated towards the “Hainanese chicken with rice combo for $9.50”, although their “Signature boneless salt baked chicken rice” was a close second. The combo includes your choice of Hong Kong style drink. I went for the coffee and milk tea over flavoured lemon water/tea and Ribena (a black currant syrup flavoured beverage.) The coffee-tea combo drink is great for those who like the flavour of coffee, but not the bitterness of actual coffee.
The food comes to the counter fairly quick. Pre-made chicken with spices on the side, and a chilled drink. It was the made to order waffle that had bodies lingering in wait. Having it “for here” still has your serving being presented in a take out plastic container, the lid covering to keep things warm. Although all of it was served lukewarm, ready for eating, but you it would be best with a longer spin in the microwave.
I expected my serving of chicken over rice to look like, if not close to, what was presented in its menu photo, so was naturally disappointed when the chicken came stacked as rough bits torn from the bird. Not only did the chicken look unappealing, but there was barely enough of it for the serving of rice and excessive scoop of ginger paste to accompany. Although the latter was necessary if you wanted flavour in your food. Underneath it all were two slices of cucumber. I wished that they were pickled, and cut into smaller chunks. They offered the dish its refreshing quality and more of it would have helped. There was also plenty of soy sauce pooled at the bottom, this would have been better in a dish to pour and season as needed, as to not over salt the rice. As for the chicken, I have had my fair share of Hainanese style chicken and sadly this is my least favourite interpretation. It wasn’t bad for regular chicken, just not good enough to considered “Hainanese”. Even with the dryness of the meat itself aside.
I also opted in for their special add on that gives you a bag of bubble waffle for only $1 more. Given their name and claim to fame, this seemed like a good bet. “Bubble waffles” are made with a sweet batter pressed and flipped in a unique cast iron waffle press. The “bubble” comes from its aesthetics and the fact that each round is hollow. They have several flavours that you can choose from, but you can only get the original at the special price. They won’t even let you pay more for the option to customize, it was a hard no when I asked. Shame as the chocolate, green tea, cheesecake, sesame, and Oreo flavours sounded a lot more interesting and exclusive to them, then “original”. I would have gotten the green tea for colour.
I suggest claiming your bubble waffle after your meal, as it makes a great dessert or something to take to-go. This way you enjoy it fresh and soft. By the time I got a hold of my bag (which I asked for with my meal, so that I can take the group photo above), it was cold and each ball snapped off sharply. Although I liked the harder edges around the “bubbles” for their crunch. As a whole, this surprisingly held up when cooled down with its great flavour. Although allowing it to sit in the brown paper bag, had you realizing how greasy of a treat this was.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This isn’t a bad food court solution. I feel the other chicken dishes would be similar to what I had above, but would be curious as to how their noodle dishes translated in this fast food setting. Don’t deny your cravings.