“ Cuisine: Chinese / Address: 43 Union Road, Falkirk FK1 4PG / Tel: 01324 611288 „
It's a family tradition that on birthdays we go out for a meal with the birthday boy or girl getting to choose the restaurant; last week my nephew was 13 and so it was his turn to choose. Me and my nephew don't exactly have the same kind of tastes where food is concerned, I love trying new types of cuisine while his favourite meal is a Bombay Bad Boy pot noodle so I was dreading to see where he would choose especially since he chose to go to KFC a couple of years back. His choice of restaurant was the Yang Sing Chinese buffet in the village of Camelon beside Falkirk, a surprising choice because normally when he goes to a buffet he just eats chips and curry sauce but according to him he also likes the chicken balls from there. I still wasn't particularly looking forward to the meal as the proximity to his dad's family meant that some of them might want to come out too and I would end up having to make conversation with a bunch of halfwits. In the end it was just Granny who came and she was surprisingly well behaved and I only had the urge to slap her once or twice! Yang Sing seems to be fairly centrally located as the surrounding area had loads of shops, there is a free and spacious car park at the side of the restaurant which is council run but had plenty of spaces on a Sunday lunchtime. The restaurant is surprisingly spacious inside but the dozens of tables are really packed together, the next table to use was less than 6 inches away and it was a real squeeze to get to our seats without asking people at the table behind us to pull their chairs in. The overall ambience was a little bit tired and gloomy, it was fairly quiet when we visited (although two little brats at the other side of the room managed to make enough noise to make it seem busier) and it would be a nightmare to visit when it was really busy. The buffet is set up across one side of the room in pretty much the standard format for buffets these days with various hotplates containing a myriad of dishes while a fridge on the other side of the room contained desserts and salad bar items. We had deliberately starved ourselves all morning to make sure we had plenty of room in our bellies for loads of food. Our first visit was for soup, the only offering being chicken noodle. The soup was fairly nice, nothing out of the ordinary but the broth was nice with big chunks of chicken breast and plentiful strands of long noodles. Now onto the second course of the day and the starters. The choice here was nothing out of the ordinary with spare ribs, prawn toast, chicken toast, onion rings, teeny spring rolls, various types of chicken and prawn crackers on offer. The food here tended to be slightly overcooked, not burnt exactly but browner than I would like and the quality was nothing to write home about. The teeny spring rolls seemed to contain no filling, the sesame chicken toast was described by one of my fellow diners as being like toast dipped in grease and the spare ribs were meaty but also very fatty. The one good thing from the starter section was the barbeque sauce which was delicious; apparently the curry sauce was also good too. My sensible niece went to the salad bar and filled up on loads of nice fresh salad veg and king prawns so it is also possible to eat healthily here. Despite feeling rather full now it was time to move onto the main courses. Again there was not a massive selection with curry, sweet and sour chicken, crispy beef, rices, noodles and a couple of veggie dishes on offer. There was also a dish of sausages and some revolting looking cauliflower and broccoli swimming round in water for those who have more western tastes. The crispy beef in sweet chilli sauce was amazing as was the sweet and sour chicken. The fried rice was also really nice, not at all greasy with a nice proportion of egg mixed through it. I also enjoyed the egg foo yung which is unusual to see on a buffet and the mushrooms in some kind of sauce were tasty. Time to move onto desserts now. There was a very limited choice of cakes in the chiller and most of them looked pretty horrible so I plumped for a small slice of chocolate cake and added some whippy ice cream from the machine. I then went up and got a banana and pineapple fritter from the hotplate and they were awful; the batter was thick and stodgy and the pineapple seemed to be totally devoid of all flavour. My sensible niece had some plums and melon so again a healthy option is on offer. The service was pretty poor throughout our meal. We were seated quickly and our initial drinks orders taken and brought out within a couple of minutes but after that it went downhill. It's not as if you need much service in a buffet place but dirty plates were left to pile up and it took ages to get the attention of a waiter to get some water. One waitress in particular (the one wearing track suit bottoms!) was miserable; when she discovered that we had piled empty plates onto the extra table next to us she glowered at us. The toilets were surprisingly nice and modern and clean but when I went to wipe discovered the toilet roll dispenser was empty which I was not happy about. Our Sunday lunches cost £6.99 each and the drinks on top added another £1.50 or so to the bill so eating there won't break the bank. Kids under 14 eat half price and evening meals are £10.50. My nephew enjoyed his meal; he had a couple of plates of chicken balls, chips and curry sauce and loads of chocolate cake with ice cream and was the centre of attention for the day. I wasn't quite so impressed with the gloomy atmosphere and the quality of the food being a bit hit and miss. Yang Sing is not a place I would eat out at again in a hurry as it is definitely at the lower end of the quality scale when it comes to Chinese buffets but if you have a fussy child to feed then they might be happy there.