When Haozhan opened a few years ago, it brought a touch of smartness to Chinatown’s main thoroughfare. The black wood interior, the primary colour accents, and the more-fashionable-than-usual café-style tables and chairs heralded a new sophistication. Sadly, we’ve often been disappointed by the fusion-style dishes that emerge from the kitchen.
Coffee ribs are a popular and tasty choice, but the wasabi-flavoured deep-fried prawns are served with rather too much mayonnaise. And when does fusion become a generic mishmash? The menu is peppered with Thai curries and Malaysian flavours, leaving little that is authentically Chinese – despite the restaurant’s name and location.
Haozhan’s Sichuanese vegetables supposedly take their influence from the fiery western Chinese province, though we found them drab and bland. In contrast, a clay pot of Taiwanese sanpei (chicken thighs braised in their own liquid with peppers and sweet basil) was light and flavourful.
Nevertheless, it was difficult for us to be entirely comfortable eating in a purportedly Chinese restaurant that puts lobster with cheese and ham on its menu – with no apparent irony.