Dakbla, located on Hardgrave Rd in West End is an unusual place - the things that spring to mind after dinner there this evening are: huge servings, decent food, atrocious service, 70's decor and German chocolate.
As anyone who knows in me in RL can attest, I am hopeless in West End - it is the wrong side of the river for me - I get lost (even sticking to main roads) so heading to Hardgrave St to welcome back three friends from overseas, in heavy rain, was going to be a challenge. However, with some navigational help from my friend and a park out the front, we made it (even got through the flooding in the Valley).
For a rainy Wednesday night, I was suprised that this place was packed. Our host for the evening had underbooked (thinking not everyone would show), so myself and my friend (the last two to arrive) were facing siting away from our group. The couple sitting next to our large party offered to move, and gave up their table to us - they were half way through their dinner too! Who knew there were still people who practised random acts of kindness to strangers?!?! If you two ever read this, thankyou!
The decor itself is very mishmash. Odd light fixtures, walls that jump out, paintings that are very 70's in style and the always stylish clear plastic table cloths (or should I say covers?). There was no music that I noticed, but I was having a great time chatting to friends so I might have missed it. It was also very bright with no ambient lighting.
The food on the other hand was very high quality for the price. The servings were surprisingly large, the vegetables incredibly fresh and the taste was delicious. I ordered the Beef Chowmein - crunchy. For $13.90 it was huge. I did taste the Deep Fried Tofu Salad and that was pretty good too, but I couldn't eat a whole meal of it. There was basically no food, other than the odd scrap of onion, left on our table, - which was highly indicitive of a great meal.
Ingredients well above cost expectations.
Good use of colour in meals.
Everything very fresh.
Lots of icy cold water.
Very large selection of food choices.
Terrible service - we were almost 20 mins late and no one had taken even a drink order from our table.
I ordered some Chinese Tea - it never arrived.
Food came out in spurts, with two people at the table receiving their meals at least 15 mins after the first - we were a table of 10 but still.
No gelati or ice-cream shop very close by.
Really, really thirsty after eating for the next 2 hours.
For $14 I got great food, and lots of it. I live 3 blocks from China Town, so my usual hangouts for Asian food are well tried and tested, but I was pleased with the results here. For the price, it was good value, and next time I won't have the same expectations for service. I still prefer Super Bowl (or as we call it when we want to be fancy - Superb Owl) for dining in that price range, but I would certainly go again if invited - but wouldn't host an event there.