We here at the Grapevine have been watching the construction of the Great Wall restaurant through our office windows the last few months, so it was with curiosity that we dined at this newest addition to Reykjavík’s restaurant scene on the Saturday of its opening week.
On arrival we were greeted by the manager, Tan Alaam, and promptly asked if we had a reservation – more than half the restaurant was already full and the place was buzzing with excitement. The soft sound of Chinese music playing in the background, the Chinese paper lamps, impeccable cleanliness and traditionally dressed waiters, helped to create a dining atmosphere rarely experienced in Reykjavík.
After almost 30 years experience managing French and Japanese restaurants abroad, Alaam is hoping to bring quality Chinese food and service to Reykjavík. His attention to detail (you would be hard pressed to find a restaurant that offers more attentive service) starts with the diverse and extensive menu, which offers a staggering 100-plus traditional Canton, Szechuan and Peking cuisine dishes, as well as a weekday lunch buffet. Specialities include duck and “magic hot plate.”
We selected the mushroom and seafood soups from the Soup Menu, which also includes shark fin and hot and sour soups. At 1000 ISK, the mushroom soup consisting of chicken broth and mushrooms made for a flavoursome starter. The seafood soup (1100 ISK) consisting of a mix of seafood also in a clear soup broth, on the other hand, had a subtler taste.
From the Rice and Noodles Menu I selected the fried noodles with vegetables from a list of ten dishes including Singapore rice noodles and mixed noodle soup. The generous serving of tasty, but quite oily, noodles with a smattering of vegetables and chicken comes in at 1200 ISK and is one of the cheaper main courses offered at Great Wall.
My dining companion’s choice of fried beef with onions (2600 ISK) consisting of fried beef with pieces of bamboo, carrot, cabbage and onion served in a thick and rich tasting sauce was spot-on. And again, while the beef was delicious, my friend found the portion more than adequate and struggled to finish the dish – something that is sure to be a plus in a city where eating out is generally overpriced. ZR