It’s no secret that I love Chinese food and five minutes from where I work, there’s a beautiful Chinese restaurant that everyone always raves about. Honestly, I don’t think a day goes by in the office without someone mentioning Banquet. I had been once with work and it was good: amazing food and a really lovely setting. After a busy week, Fran and myself decided we’d treat ourselves (thank you pay day!) and go for dinner on Friday after work.
One of the things I like most about Banquet is the menu – there are so many unusual dishes you can’t get from your standard takeaway. Who knew you could have lobster so many ways? Of course there are all the typical dishes, you’d come to expect, but those bonus ones are the ones you need to try! On my last visit, we were just sharing one of the set menus so I missed out on finding out what else was in store. I recommend checking out the website though, for a little insight!
Our table was booked at 6pm, which gave us enough time after finishing work. At this point, the restaurant wasn’t exactly busy, but it soon filled up as the evening went on. We sat in one of the corners, in a booth, which was so much more comfortable than sitting at a table. The plush leather seats were so comfortable; I didn’t actually want to leave. And our spot was ideal for people watching – and getting food envy! The service throughout was good, even as it got busier. Our food came out quickly, but to the extent of us being rushed, the staff were efficient and very attentive. I don’t think anything could be faulted.
To start, we shared the dim sum platter. There’s actually a dim sum menu, with steamed, baked and fried options, which will be well worth a go another time. Fran had never had dim sum before and I’m constantly talking about the Ping Pong chain at work, so needless to say we were both excited! We ordered the chef’s selection, which were eight steamed options. Each was so flavoursome, even though I think the majority of them were prawn. Looking at the menu, I think we tried the prawn chive dumplings, the prawn dumpling with diced bamboo shoots and possibly, the pork siu mai.
To follow, we both selected some dishes to share and of course, I chose one of my favourite dishes ever – fillet steak Cantonese style. This was honestly the best version of the dish I’ve ever had – overtaking one of my favourite little restaurants (Tim’s Palace in Ingatestone). The steak was poured onto the hot plate at the table, immediately spitting away and sizzled for ages. The sauce was sweet and sticky in equal measure and the pieces of fillet were plentiful and so chunky. I accompanied the dish with egg fried rice, which soaked up the sauce nicely. Fran selected chicken with green pepper and black bean sauce, which was also very tasty. You can’t really go wrong with black bean, but this wasn’t too saucy and instead, was packed with veg.
We also shared a portion of the mixed seafood crispy noodles, which are another of my favourites. Whenever I’m at a restaurant, I’m always inclined to go with any other noodle than chow mein, whether it’s crispy, rice or udon – and Tim’s no longer serve crispy seafood noodles, so this was a no brainer. They were packed with prawns, scallops and squid, as well as pak choy, carrots and mushrooms. The noodles stayed crisp, despite being covered in oyster sauce and were a meal in itself. I’d definitely go back just to have a plate of noodles. Banquet certainly don’t scrimp on the portion sizes. I hadn’t even had lunch and we struggled to eat everything!
Despite being totally full, we did have a quick look at the dessert menu and it was interesting to see things other than fritters or coconut ice cream listed! The ‘Hedgehog Surprise’ intrigued and I’ll have to find out more next time. The golden bean sponge and water chestnut cake also sounded very nice.
Booking is recommended, especially on a Friday or Saturday – and children aren’t permitted after 7:30pm, no matter what day it is. That said, it’s a great restaurant for families, friends, or even for business. It’s definitely my new favourite Chinese and I’m already planning my return.
Love, Lucy xx