China Doll has been known in the past for its awesome variety of well prepared noodles, wonton and fried rice, but lately their food just hasn't been up to the same mark.
Service & Ambience
We liked their restaurant in Alfred House Avenue. Not really a big fan of those awkward big leather chairs, but the overall feel of the place is very relaxed and arty, what with the pretty chandeliers and pop art on the walls. The service was okay - our waiter was very attentive to us, but the rest seemed to be having a bad day. The menu says 'we don't serve pork' but then directly on top of this there's a stapled flyer that advertises pork - so they do, now.
We started with their chicken wonton (Rs. 509), a plate of four fried dumplings filled with soft chicken, a dish that came highly recommended. They were hot and tasty, but way too soaked in cooking oil. They were reddish and almost transparent from being slathered in oil.
They didn't ease up on the oil with our next dishes either. China Doll is best known for their noodles, so our waiter recommended the Mee Goreng (Rs. 449), which promised 'fresh hokkien noodles' with prawn, chicken, tofu, red chili, some veggies and fried egg. The prawns in this dish were tasty and spicy, but the noodles and veggies were a huge disappointment. The noodles did not taste very fresh and the vegetables seemed to have been suffocated with oil and sat drooping at one end of the plate; the whole dish fell a bit flat - we were thankful for the piece of fried egg at least.
Char Kway Teow
The Char Kway Teow (Rs. 449) sounded promising - fresh rice noodles with prawn, cuttlefish, chicken sausage, vegetables and soy sauce. The presentation was terrible, the dish honestly did not look appetizing: dark brown oil-slathered noodles and onions, from which the cuttlefish and bits of prawn had to be rescued. It was one brown unidentifiable mess. The meat wasn't so tasty, but it was mostly the noodles that ruined it for us. Perhaps ordering a separate plate of prawns or cuttlefish would have been a better idea.
The chicken wonton filling still tastes good and the fried dough is crunchy, the prawns in the Mee Goreng were good, and they've got an amazing pineapple juice (Rs. 300). Also the place is pretty affordable - for two people, especially considering the large portions, it only cost about 2K.
China Doll has a big fanbase among those who want to go to a Chinese restaurant that serves food that's neither typical mainland Chinese nor the Sri Lankan Chinese hybrid. We remember getting their tasty yellow boxes through delivery when they first set up. So we really hope they up their game - the noodles need a load of work and the guy in the kitchen with the oil-hose needs to be restrained.
Try going for a dry dish of prawns or cuttlefish, those still seem to be alright.