Thursday, April 13, 2006


Just Ate At: Busi Cafe

We went for a birthday dinner at Busi Cafe (sorry about the link, it was the best I could find) in Manuka last night. And wow, was it bad. The worst place I've ever been to in Canberra would probably be a reasonable description.

I'm usually pretty forgiving of food places. And there's usually some redeeming factor - the service might be bad, but the food is good. Or the food is bad, but the atmosphere is great. Unfortunately, the best thing about Busi Cafe was that we got to leave eventually.

The place was tiny, with lino floors and very bright, multi-coloured walls. It basically looked like something you'd see in a food court. In fact, when I first wondered past, I thought it was the sort of place that does lunch take-away, but had a few tables around. When we sat down at their cafeteria-style table and chairs, we discovered that there were only 3 glasses for a table of 10. After a lot of begging and pleading, we were finally able to get some more wine glasses.

The ordering process was a bit of a debacle, and almost two hours later our entrees began to arrive. We got a plate of spring rolls - enough for one each! Of course, we didn't have any plates to eat them off, so everyone had to just hold them. After another long wait, the first of our main dishes started appearing, along with 2 pork buns (we'd ordered enough for everyone). After much pain, we eventually managed to explain that we should have some more pork buns. Which turned out to be a mistake - I didn't think it was possible to stuff up those packet pork buns, but apparently I was wrong.

Meanwhile, we were finally able to convince them that we actually needed individual plates as well as the food dishes. The only cutlery we had were spoons and forks (that's right, no chopsticks) - which meant we had to beg for a knife when one of the dishes turned out to be big pork shanks. Every dish we thought "oh, this one will be alright!", and every dish wasn't. It was by far the worst Chinese I've eaten. Several of the dishes were chucked on the table without anything to serve them with - resulting in more requests for cutlery and more confused looks from the wait staff.

At one point (probably about half way through the meal) we asked if we could get some rice. "Oh, you want some more rice?" asked the waiter/floor manager. "No, we'd like *some* rice - we haven't got any yet". So he brought out a small bowl. And then said "hmmm, do you want a second bowl?" "Ah, yes..."

Let me describe a couple of the dishes. There was the afore-mentioned pork - "salty and spicy pork", which was infact almost tasteless and fatty. There was a prawn dish that looked nice in the picture (the menu had pictures for each dish, none of which looked like the real dish) but turned out to be some prawns with scrambled egg on top. There was the fried rice, which was just rice, some egg and some soy sauce mixed together. There was the honey chicken, which, despite the description saying it was the normal, deep-fried crunchy honey chicken and the picture looking like the normal, crunchy honey chicken, was actually just normal chicken strips with a thin sauce that may have contained honey.

I spent a bit of time trying to work out what market they were trying to appeal to. It certainly wasn't classy enough to appeal to the Manuka yuppies. It was far too slow to appeal to the take away market. The quality of the food was so bad that they can't have been trying for the gourmets. I thought maybe they were trying to appeal to families, but the place was definitely not kid-friendly. My best guess was that they were trying for the "I feel like something dodgie and horrible, but I don't want MacDonalds". Although I don't know how well they were even pulling that off.

I totally agree with you. They should close down. I'm from HK and that is NOT HK food.
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