A few colleagues and I decided to go to New World Chinese Restaurant in Pyrmont for lunch, having seen the sign advertising $7.80 lunch specials we thought this would be a nice cheap lunch on a Friday afternoon. Previously this restaurant had been operating under the name Big Red Lantern but had recently changed its name in the last few months. We had come once before under its old name and recognised the cook so assumed it was just a name change and not an ownership change.
After arriving we walked to a table ourselves as there was no waitperson to greet us, we sat and after some time were attended to even though the restaurant was not very busy. We waited for some menus to appear and though the waiter came over after a few minutes and asked us what we wanted to drink, we were still left waiting for menus. For drinks we ordered a pot of tea for the table, one coke and water for all. When the drinks arrived we again had to prompt for menus before any appeared.
They had a good variety of dishes listed on their specials menu (around 20 or so), but it was hard to decipher some of the ambiguous names and what they entailed. Many of the staples of a Chinese restaurant were listed in some variation or another. I ended up trying the Combination Crispy Noodle, which I thought might be a variation of the Combination Chow Mein. Food arrived around 10 minutes after ordering and relatively simultaneously for the table, presentation was nothing special and you were definitely given what you paid for. The portions were a good size and half of us finished our meals, whilst the rest could only manage at best 3/4. The combination noodles included chicken, beef, bok choy and two prawns. Some of the dishes were a little more abstract and not what we had expected even after asking what the dish involved.
Expecting no more than $7.80, which was the cost of the specials we were quite shocked to find they were charging us per person for tea. Generally, you hope for free tea, but do expect to pay for the pot or occasionally per head. However, we were charged an extra $2 per person for the tea and most people had only had one cup and they never refilled the pot. This might have been okay IF the waiter had stipulated the cost when we ordered, but there was no signage or notification of the tea costs and certainly none that specified $2 per person – all up we paid in excess of $10 for one pot of tea. Up until this point I was willing to neglect the aspects I found disconcerting – such as the customers smoking in the venue, which we’re assumed was illegal due to the courtyard being enclosed, but that extra for the tea was too much. Some of the others tried to dispute this cost, but the waiter casually said this is how it is done everywhere. I know that not to be true. That and the fact that he was so sly about the tea in the first place did not go down well. The other disappointing factor was that we had left the teapot lid flipped to indicate we had run out of hot water and he never came to refill or check during the meal, so one pinch of tea leaves and boiling water ended up being $12, which was the cost of at least one whole meal.
Overall, I have to say I was willing to give this restaurant a second go after having a bad experience the first time I had visited – where the cashier would not give me the receipt, but this second dismal experience has meant that I cannot recommend the place to others. It’s a shame as I was looking forward to having a nice Chinese restaurant in the area. Chinese food is a relatively untapped cuisine on the Pyrmont side, although I know it’s not that far from Chinatown and Haymarket.
Food – 2/5
Ambience – 3/5
Customer service – 1/5
Price – 2/5 (food was okay, but the cost of tea was not)
NewWorld Chinese Restaurant
(02) 9692 9888
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Corner of Harwood Street