Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chamonix - Deserves a Second Chance ?

At the beginning of its opening, Chamonix created a small hype among the Taiwanese population in Richmond. I was told that the restaurant originated from Taipei, and is pretty famous/popular there. So obviously, upon hearing this seemingly good news, I went right ahead to try this new gem !

I guess you can already predict from my tone that I was greatly disappointed.

Chamonix is located close to Richmond Centre, in a small hidden plaza behind the Staples/TD Bank mall. It's in the same plaza where 王府井 is located. It can be a little difficult to locate in the beginning, but once you are in the right mall, it's pretty easy to spot, thanks to its super bright exterior signage.

I'm not sure who the interior designer is, or if they used any, but both the exterior and the interior appeared to be a little odd to me.

Personal preference I guess.

My bad experience there started right after we stepped into the restaurant.The picture below is the waiting area, where we waited for some attention for about 10 minutes. By attention, I really just mean someone to acknowledge our presence, no, nothing. We just stood there, watching waitresses/waiters walking about, no one bothered to look our side, bring us to empty tables, notify us of the wait, or even say things like Welcome.  I was so irritated since that point, but I was still determined to try the food. So after 10 mins of waiting like idiots, some server finally pointed us to a table that has not yet be cleaned. We stood by that table for a couple more mins, waiting for someone to come remove previous dishes and set new utensils. THEN, we finally got to sit down.  I was pretty frustrated with Chamonix at this point, so the sentiments and my review following this episode could be greatly skewed. But I'll try to be as unbiased as possible and list just what had happened. Let's see if this is possible.


Okay, maybe not possible. I seriously find the interior to be extremely off. And I'm not the only one. When my friend introduced me to this place, she said, let me quote, "the interior is so ugly that it's horrifying".  Well, at least I didn't think it was THAT bad. I just thought the ceiling lights are a complete mismatch with each other. The pink suede princess chairs with diamonds also hardly match with the dark-colored hardwood walls. All these are then tied together with strange lounge lights above, but bright casual bubble tea store lights on the other side. As though this cannot be worse, the utensils are of difference cartoon characters that has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING in the restaurant. Seriously.... I'm not sure what happened there. 

As you can see from the photo immediately above, many tables are empty but left uncleaned. At the same time, many people are waiting to be seated by the door. I'll try to be less harsh because, after all, they are a brand new business in Vancouver. Maybe they already have improved on their operations since then. So they have a "soft" menu for customers to try before finalizing on a proper one. There are already quite a lot of stuff to choose from. The dishes are those typical Taiwanese family style restaurant ones and most are meant to be shared. You can, of course, also order sets for yourself, most dishes come with a bowl of rice. During its freshly open days, as you can see in the picture below, many things were discounted. I'm not sure if the sale is still valid now.

So, here are the cartoon bowl and cups. I no longer know what else to say about them. I still don't know why nothing in this restaurant matches, maybe this is the intended innovative style that I'm too ignorant to appreciate. 

It was also very difficult for me to understand how come the chopsticks don't pair up as well. We got 2 pairs, with 3 green ones and a purple loner. Maybe this is another intentional art.


As you can imagine, up until this point, I went beyond my frustration and started to find everything shocking but amusing. My expression was best described by their cup :

Another thing I got to give them credit for is that the waitresses were actually polite, albeit how disoriented they were. Once we were seated, the waitress did apologize couple times regarding every mess. And I could tell that the entire service team was a mess, it was really not that fault that the boss failed to train them well before opening, and didn't come up with a legit operational plan. So I didn't show my irritation at them as well. In fact, I became quite hesitate to call the waitress or make requests because they seemed so busy and disorganized already. I just let every other thing go.

The food is not bad, but not super tasty that made you wanna go back again. I say they are about a 5.5/10. Among all these I ordered, I couldn't call out a favorite. But their Soy-Braised Chicken Leg tasted nothing like soy-braised but smoked. It was pretty dry and not what I expected when ordering it from the menu. The photo right below is Suan Ni Bai Rou (Garlic Pork), a very typical Taiwanese dish, it was cooked nothing like it too. It was a little sour and not spicy at all, except when you ate the chilly by accident, and your entire mouth went on fire. Nothing too special about the rest of the dishes.  The bubble tea was not bad but not memorable either.


I'm not sure if Chamonix deserve a second chance. I don't think I'll go back for a while, unless I start to hear more good things about it. I heard it is operated by Strike's kitchen team, which is really odd, because I do like Strike's food alot. And I promise, I'm not the only one who feels so taken aback by this place. When we were dining, so many tables were raising their hands waiting for service but couldn't get any. One table even started to make jokes on this fact by having everyone (about 8 people) sitting at their table raise their hands to grab attention. 

I understand they are new, and have lots of room for improvement, but one of the most important phase for a restaurant to obtain loyal customers is during its opening period. It was such a risk for the owner to open with such poor preparation. This experience really taught me a great lesson - on how important it is to practice practice and practice before opening. Operation and service are so important, regardless of how good your products are. 

Sometimes, failures exits to teach people not to repeat the same mistake.   

Chamonix 夏慕尼 on Urbanspoon

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