All about food. All about Edmonton.
I’ve been burned by the Northeast Edmonton Good Buddy Chinese Restaurant before and, as you do, have maintained a grudge ever since. I don’t remember much about the original offense I took from this restaurant – I only remember thinking that their food was too ‘white.’
Oh, I know, that sounds terribly racist. My 19-year-old self apologizes for my lack of political correctness. I only meant, however, that the food tasted as if you’d selected three pre-cooked items and eaten them out of a Styrofoam container – the norm for all Edmonton mall-based Chinese fast food restaurants. This type of Chinese food is ‘white’ simply because it’s been Caucasianized (it happens to Chinese takeaway food in England, too); i.e. cooked to appeal to a Caucasian palate, if such a thing exists. And, don’t get me wrong, I love me a bit of Manchu Wok every now and then.
But when I go out to a Chinese restaurant, is it too much to expect authenticity? I certainly didn’t think so, back then.
In 2013, I reluctantly made my way back to the Good Buddy restaurant for dim sum, under the suggestion of my mother. I figured: who better to recommend authentic Chinese food than a Chinese woman? You know how mothers are usually right? Yeah, this time wasn’t any different.
I’ve been trying to find great dim sum places ever since Noodle Noodle closed down and, even though I love Dynasty, it’s great to finally have a dim sum restaurant on the North side of town. Good Buddy did not disappoint. Firm, tasty sumi – beautifully wrapped shrimp dumplings (the white ones…if made wrong, they fall apart after one bite) – fresh sticky rice.
The roads were snowy so the restaurant was a lot slower than usual (sometimes there are line-ups out of the door), which meant much faster service. Not that that’s a big selling point – if you’re looking for Asian authenticity, customer service cannot be one of your prerequisites. And it’s not because the servers are rude - that’s simply Asian culture.
I’m used to the abruptness by now (thanks to a massive Asian family), and didn’t mind it when I studied in China, either. Personally, I think it adds to the charm of dining in an authentic Chinese restaurant. They’ll get you what you need, but they don’t have to simper and fawn all over you in the typical North American customer-is-always-right attitude.
As a former server, I’ve been privy to the well-kept secret that, actually, the customer is often completely wrong. And kind of a douchebag. Therefore, I applaud the Asian mentality of “Tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you” as a fundamental for customer service. It’s easy, unobtrusive, and concise.
I’ve read a few reviews for Good Buddy that talk about the customer service being terrible. Here’s a hint…you see those cups of water standing on the bar, all ready-poured? Get it yourself.
The art of dining in, and reviewing, a Chinese restaurant isn’t to focus on the customer service (unless you’re paying $100 a head, in which case I expect palm fronds and bottled spring water flavoured with rose petals)- it’s to focus on the food. And, in Good Buddy’s case, the food is worth it – it’s bloody reasonable, too, at around $10-15 a person. Yes, it’s a little Caucasianized, but it’s not nearly as bad as it could be, and the dim sum is tops.
In my opinion, dining at an authentic Chinese restaurant should be prescribed at least once every couple of months, if only to remind picky, narcissistic diners that they aren’t the centre of the universe, and that they don’t tip enough to deserve being waited on hand and foot.
Good Buddy Restaurant
1018 – 9499 137 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5E 5R8