Newest Review: ... to knock people who are trying to eat. I also find that other people are doing the same and I often have to move my chair to allow peopl... more
Great food, great price but shabby and grabby
Big Wok (Birmingham)
Member Name: bkecky
Big Wok (Birmingham)
Advantages: Food, selection, price
Disadvantages: Looking for all they can get out of you, surprised they don't charge for the toilets
This place is a favourite for students and is well-known across the student community of Birmingham. It is an all-you can eat Chinese buffet in the centre of Chinatown and I have known it be so popular that people have been queuing around the corner of the street to get in.
The lunch-time buffet costs £5.99 and is said to include over 60 dishes. In addition there is a "Grand Buffet" 5-11.30pm, which offers over 80 dishes with a sushi and tepanyaki bar, although this costs £9.99. Children under 2 eat free and children under 1.30m pay £4.00 at lunch and £5 in the evening.
The food actually doesn't taste too bad even though you might expect something cheap and nasty. It is rather the same as you would expect from your local take-away. There is a starters buffer, a main course buffet and a dessert buffet. Examples of starters include Mongolian lamb, sweet and sour chicken balls, samosas, spring rolls, ribs, soups and dim sum. Main courses include sweet & sour pork, chicken curry, beef in black bean sauce, egg foo yung and all the other favourites you would expect. Actually although it is a chinese buffet you also get a little bit of Indian and of course chips. There is a good vegetarian selection and generally something that most people can eat. The Grand Buffet also includes some wonderful duck pancakes and the tepanyaki where you choose your ingredients and it is cooked in front of you. Although I never have the patience for that! The desserts are where they are let down. There is an ice cream machine, some fruit salad and cake but the cake is like something you would buy at Iceland not homemade. There is also some dubious looking tapioca. At night they also have a chocolate fountain. Overall the food is usually something to look forward to and there is rarely anything I shy away from. I haven't heard any complaints yet!
The main disappointment is that in busy periods they do tend to rush you in and out and even though it states on the menu that during busy periods you may only have an hour and a half, I have only ever known them allow an hour. This makes me feel slightly peeved because they shouldn't put on the menu something that they will disregard later. Not all the staff are very pleasant either and some can only just speak English.
Although the drinks prices are not too high, expect around £2.00 for a coke, they do charge for tap water and as you now have to go to the bar yourself and if you want tap water you pour it yourself from a jug into a glass they provide after you have paid, I wonder what they are charging for. Glass rental perhaps? This gives the impression that they are out to get what they can. Also if you want to go outside to smoke or actually for any other reason you have to pay first to leave and show your receipt on the way out. I understand they don't want people to run out but I often feel like I'm at school and have to show my toilet pass or something. Although the last time I went (I don't know if it was because it was a busy period) they made me pay straight away. Once again I feel that if there is something wrong with my experience or I found something in my food I would not want to pay and this prevents you from standing your ground. I also went out to smoke once and when I came back in I was asked if I wanted a table for one by the same person who I had just shown my receipt to. I suppose if the staff are that forgetful they need to charge straight away.
Another annoying factor is that whenever it is a birthday or anniversary you have to sit through a rendition of Cliff Richard's, Congratulations. This is very amusing...the first time. However we have had a few laughs pretending it is someones birthday who hasn't been there before and them getting the shock of their life when their name and table number is announced.
You often get a lot of families here so sometimes it gets a bit chaotic and as cute as a child may, when I see them grabbing the chips directly with their hands it makes me wonder what is floating around in the dishes.
The restaurant decor itself is rather disappointing. It has school type tables and chairs that might be reserved for parents evening and it very bland. It is on two floors and the stairs are a bit steep so going to the buffet from upstairs is a bit of a hazard, especially if there has been a spillage. Apart from a few chinese posters and an advertisement for a chinese cosmetic surgery (£1500 for a sex change if anyone is looking), they really have not made much effort. You also have to get your own cutlery and serviettes so really all the waiting staff do is open the door and take you to your table.
At 5pm anyone wanting to have the Grand Buffet gets given a sticker. We went once just before 5pm and thought we were having the Grand Buffet but when I went over to the duck pancakes a hand grabbed the tongs out of my hand and demanded "Sticker!". I explained that we had told the waitress we wanted the Grand Buffet and was rudely told "no sticker, no duck!". Charming. From then on I was watched like a hawk in case I should be thief enough to steal a sushi roll.
Despite the shabbiness of the service and rip off of the tap water, I still go to this buffet, mainly because of the price and overall food quality. It is a good deal and I suppose you can't expect too much from a £6.00 all-you-can-eat and actually it is cheaper than preparing three meals in the day so sometimes I just go here for one meal for the whole day. I just think that if they were not so grabby and pushing me out, I might stay longer, buy more drinks and tip more!
Summary: An unbeatable price but really you want to eat as much as you can and get out!