Joyful-ly ripping us off with a smile

Attending a reunion in Las Vegas for my high school in Hong Kong meant a Chinese meal was definitely in store for everyone. Our dinner at Joyful House consisted of three tables and school-mates who had attended the Hong Kong International School some time during their life-time.

We started off with Peking Duck ($39 with 10 buns) which incidentally was already stuffed into buns when it arrived at the table. We were a little disappointed at the meager amount of duck in the thick ‘bao’ — it felt like we should’ve gotten three times as much duck than what was offered.

Salt and Pepper Calamari ($12.50) was much better. Crispy pieces of squid was lightly coated and tossed with garlic and the ubiquitous salt and pepper mixture we Chinese love to put on all sorts of fried meats.

Although I enjoyed the Fried Veggie Rolls ($8.95 for 5 pcs), I thought it was a lot of fried foods after the calamari, but once I got over the exterior, I quite enjoyed the julienned carrots, bamboo shoots, wood ear mushrooms and bean sprouts stuffed inside.

Sauteed Shrimp and Broccoli ($14.95) is one of those dishes which isn’t that exciting but accepted by all. I thought it was just okay, nothing special.

The next dish was a bit strange. Filet Mignon with Portabella Mushrooms in Black Pepper Sauce ($15.50) sauce was delicious but I’d never had it with portabella mushrooms before, nor have I ever had portabella mushrooms at a Chinese restaurant before.

Sauteed Green Beans ($10.50) were perfectly cooked though. Preserved vegetables and ground pork made it authentic and so flavorful — perfect eaten with hot steamed rice.

When the Steamed Fish (market price) came, I was happy because I love it but not so happy to see that it was flounder — one of the most affordable offerings when it comes to steamed fish — but was happy to drizzle the soy sauce and green onions over my rice.

I was told we were getting E-Fu Noodles ($10.95 for plain so I’m guessing add $5 for the duck?) with shredded duck but when it arrived, it was just your regular noodles, not e-fu noodles at all. When I queried it the server insisted it was e-fu noodles. Both my friend Cynthia and I — Chinese and well aware of what e-fu noodles are — were adamant they had stiffed us in this area.

I was glad I didn’t have to organize and know what a thankless job it is to be in charge of making arrangements for a large crowd, but Joyful House really did a number here based solely on the meal. Even though everything tasted fine, it definitely wasn’t a $500/table meal! I’ve had a 12-course seafood banquet in San Francisco for a table of 12 with lobster, crab, shrimp, fish, chicken, etc for that price!

We ended up paying $50/person for our meal which included wine and beer although not everyone drank alcohol. I felt they had overcharged us so naturally, I went to their website and found the prices of each dish and did my own calculations.

I’m guessing the amount of food would be enough to feed 6-8 people and took into account the “market price” of the steamed flounder (which in Irvine runs anywhere between $10-$15 depending on size of fish) so I was lenient and gave it a $25 price tag.

Being a frequent consumer, I’m glad to know I wasn’t far off in my calculations. At the end of the day, our meal would’ve cost — before tax and tip — $32 between four people, $21 between six  and a mere $16 a piece if shared between eight. Four people would’ve ended up with plenty of leftovers to spare!!

Joyful House
4601 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Tel: 702-889-8881

Joyful House Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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