Guest Review by Owen
Ho Ho's Chinese Food, HUB Mall University of Alberta:
The first thing one is likely to notice when looking at the steam trays at
Ho Ho is that of the roughly 15 dishes offered (in addition to soup and
plain rice, available on request) is that deep fried and covered with
unwholesome sauce is the default setting for Chinese food. Indeed, in the
case of Chinese food purchased at a food court, this is pretty much
accurate. It is not this fact that causes me to dislike Ho Ho, but rather
that the friedness and the unwholesomeness are taken to such an extreme
level that I have only ever seen worse at one place. (West Edmonton Mall, I
forget which one, but does it matter? Fast-food Chinese is just a bad idea
to begin with)
I have had the opportunity to sample several of the dishes at Ho Ho, living
and going to school on the U of A campus makes it hard to avoid. In a
nutshell, they are almost universally bad. The chicken balls are doughy
rather than crisp, but are still too tough to cut with a plastic knife.
That takes some extra kind of skill right there to get that consistency.
The orange beef is stringy (as are all the meat products) and tastes rather
like it was made by marinating the beef in Tang before it was deep fried.
The fried rice is greasy, but then so are the chow mein and the fatter
Singapore style noodles. The alleged vegetable mix going by the dangerously
generic name "chop suey" is mostly bean sprouts with a bit of celery. There
might be some of the cabbage that gives this dish its name in there
somewhere, but damned if I can find it. Also it manages to be limp and
overcooked, greasy, and watery all at the same time.
I have been told that this place makes much better food when you order off
of the menu posted behind the counter, and includes such delicacies as black
bean pork chops, and satay this and that, but I feel that this rather
defeats the purpose of eating bad Chinese food. If it isn't in the steam
tray, why bother?
And while the food is pretty bad, at least the price is wrong. Ho Ho fails
to be the price leader that the Chinese place in Mac Hall at U of C was. I
recall getting the $2.25 Rice and Dumpling lunch special about a hundred
times during my undergrad, and never regretting it once. Here, I pay over 5
bucks for a similarly sized lunch, and I regret it every single time.
So my suggestion? If you are at UofA and you have a craving for bad Chinese
food, walk exactly two blocks south of Hub Mall to the ground floor of the
Newton Place residence, where you will find the Pearl Jade restaurant's
Buffet. While the food is bad, it is "Good Bad Chinese Food" and for just a
couple of bucks more than at Ho Ho, you will get an all you can eat sit down
buffet. Want to eat four pounds of mediocre Ginger Beef? You can do it.
Why? None of my business why you'd want to do something like that.
Anyway. You know the drill by now. Ho Ho gets no pints. It has no
redeeming features whatsoever, and I don't know any place with worse food.
What it does get is a rating of nine whiskies, which is the amount that I
would have to drink before I would consider it a good idea to eat there
again. (I have heard it described as a good hangover cure, you see.)