Floata Seafood Restaurant – Review 2 (Revisited)

Restaurant: Floata Seafood Restaurant
Cuisine: Chinese/Dim Sum/Seafood
Last visited: May 6, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Chinatown)
Address: 180 Keefer Street
Price Range: $20-30+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 1.5 (on this occasion, it moved up from my 1.1 from my last visit)
Service: 1.5
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 1
Additional comments:

  • Floata – Review/Visit 1
  • Located in Chinatown
  • Largest Chinese restaurant in Canada
  • Started in Hong Kong
  • Seats 1000+
  • Formal Chinese dining
  • Dim sum/lunch/dinner
  • Popular for banquets
  • Private rooms
  • Karaoke available
  • Catering available
  • Free parking (Validation required)

**Recommendations: n/a

I’m not a health inspector and I’ve had a dirty glass before, and it’s no big deal if they apologize and change it… but dirty glass #1…

Dirty glass #2…

Dirty glass #3…

Dirty glass #4… at this point I decided that I would drink nothing for the night.

Please! Seriously. Just take 1 second to actually look at the glass before bringing me a new one…*sigh*… it was a rough start to a dreaded dinner. It wasn’t the occasion, but the location that made me hold my breath.

Floata. I call it a venue more than a restaurant. From plastic bottle caps to plastic zip ties in my soup to caterpillars in my vegetables – see here… not once, but TWICE with the caterpillars. This place is in desperate need for some Kitchen Nightmares attention. It’s not even just the cleanliness or food quality that bothers me, but it’s the service. They don’t care! They shrug their shoulders or act like it happens all the time when these significant problems come up! I’m too weak to even keyboard smash my frustrations…

So how does a restaurant with poor food and service still survive after so many years? It’s because of this!

It holds 1000 people. I swear that’s the only reason why it exists… and for those who may not know anywhere better… I say that with a big grain of sea salt. I apologize if I’ve offended you, but it’s for your own good to invest your money in another restaurant. Chinese food is much better than this… as for the service… err… there is better than Floata, but not sure if that’s really saying a lot.

On this occasion the food was actually better than my previous experiences. Besides 4 dirty glasses, there were no bugs or random kitchen gadgets or general garbage in my food. On the other hand I still felt like I was 1/1000 pigs they were feeding and they make you feel like it too. With the “point at your plate and pass it over for me to change” service and food that speaks of incredibly mass produced, you almost feel like a paying prisoner. It’s quite shameful, but because it’s such a large venue there’s bound to be an unavoidable dinner here for some special occasion that seats 1000 people.

On the table:

Cold Appetizer Platter2/6

  • BBQ Pork, pork hock slices, soy sauce chicken, jellyfish and roast duck.
  • Chinese “antipasto”.
  • I really don’t know if all the meats are made in house, but it was okay.
  • The BBQ pork was better than last time – see here, it was actually quite moist, juicy, tender, not too sweet, and well flavoured.
  • The pork hock was pretty cheap quality and the roasted duck and chicken were very mediocre.
  • The jelly fish was too soft and salty with a mild heat to follow.

Honey Peach Pork Chop Salad1/6

  • This is a Westernized dish and I’ve had it before, but this was a very poorly executed and presented version of it. Otherwise, it’s actually quite a good dish.
  • It tastes pretty much like sweet and sour pork.
  • I don’t think there’s actually any peaches in it, but it’s just the name for it and I think it refers to it’s sweet flavour.
  • The quality of pork chops were probably grade Y.. for Y would you use this? Right, probably because it’s cheap.
  • It was almost all bone or all gelatinous fat and you had to dig through it to find a piece that wasn’t bone, fat or incredibly heavily battered.
  • The “honey peach” sauce for it was reminiscent of sweet and sour sauce made with ketchup and I didn’t want to even bother gnawing through the batter to get to the little bit of meat.
  • The rough drizzle of mayo on top was not appealing and usually it does have mayo but it’s all sauteed together with the honey sesame walnuts.
  • The candied sesame coated walnuts were good and quite fresh and I just ate those plain.

Sauteed Mixed Mushrooms and Vegetables (Buddha’s Feast) – 2/6

  • Celery, jicama root, bell peppers, button mushrooms, shiitakes and oyster mushrooms sauteed with a little bit of sweet chili sauce and soy sauce.
  • This was a whole lot of celery (cheapest ingredient) and there were only 2 button mushrooms.
  • The vegetables were fresh, crunchy and tender and the mushrooms were juicy, but the Shiitakes were overcooked and like jello.

Shredded Chicken with Fish Maw & Conpoy in Consomme1/6

  • There was some mushrooms, dried scallops (conpoy), shredded chicken, fish maw, green onions and a whole lot of corn starch to thicken it up and make it a “soup”.

When I can pick up my soup and eat it with chopsticks… I think that means it’s gluey with way too much cornstarch. It was super thick and literally the texture of bodily fluids when you’re sick… okay I kind of feel bad for saying that, but they should feel bad for making people actually pay for this.

Sauteed Sole and Deep Fried Sole with Celery and Chinese Leeks3/6

  • This was actually pretty good, but of course there is better than this.
  • The boneless sauteed sole fillets were flaky, moist and pretty nice pieces.
  • The deep fried sole fillets were nice and crispy and well seasoned with some chili salt and quite a bit of MSG.. which is why they were so good. I could see and taste the MSG, so I know for a fact it was there.
  • The Chinese leeks are almost like chives.
  • The vegetables are again a whole lot of celery, and then about 5 snap peas. Both were fresh, tender and crunchy though.
  • An excellent version of this deep fried fish is at Red Star Seafood – see Deep Fried Sea Bass with Spicy Salt.

Sauteed Soy Sauce Medium Prawns – 2.5/6

  • The prawns were actually pretty good and nice and crunchy, but they’re obviously not sustainable and a couple of them tasted like dirt. Other than that, I liked them.
  • It tasted like they were sauteed in more than just soy sauce, and it tasted like it was some sort of sweet and sour sauce or ketchup, it was very mild though.
  • If it was ketchup, it’s actually not a bad thing, because the dish is often made like that. It could have just been some sugar though because it was a bit sweet.

Braised Duck with Deep Fried Dough & Spinach3/6 (4/6 for the duck, 2/6 for the rest)

  • The braised duck was actually incredibly tender and falling apart. It was quite good although the sauce was gluey again.
  • It was served with I think soy protein puffs, or “deep fried dough”, or soy gluten which was an unusual complement to this dish. They taste like chewy thick deep fried tofu skins, but they’re not crispy and somewhat soggy and spongy. It’s a common meat substitution for vegetarians, but since it’s touching the meat, vegetarians wouldn’t eat it anyways.

  • The duck was rich and the meat was tender and the fat was too thick for my liking but it was ultra creamy and just melted away.
  • Some of the spinach tasted a bit dirty, but I was happy with the presentation because cutting off the stems meant lower risk of finding caterpillars and bugs, unlike last time.

Crispy Chicken4/6

  • Yes, you saw that correctly. It was a 4/6! This was actually very good!
  • The skin was crispy, the meat was juicy, and the brine it was marinated in soaked all the way to the very bone.

Even the large chunks of white meat chicken tasted like they were sous vide! It was pretty amazing and incredibly juicy.

Yeung Chow Fried Rice – 2/6

  • The fried rice was fried nicely and actually okay.
  • The BBQ pork pieces were pretty crappy though and most of them were just leftover fatty chewy pieces. It didn’t add any sweetness to the rice which it should.
  • The baby shrimps were crunchy but there weren’t many and there were hardly any scrambled egg bits too.

Braised E-Fu Noodles 2/6

  • They were a bit wet for my liking and there was some sauteed mushrooms and green onions.
  • The noodles were soft and there was good soy sauce flavour, but it was also quite standard.
  • These noodles are actually deep fried first before being sauteed so they’re unassumingly rich and indulgent. You wouldn’t be able to tell since they’re not crispy.

Chinese Dainty Two (Two Kinds of Pastry)4/6

  • Laughing Sesame Balls3/6
    • I’m not sure if these are made in house as a lot of places order them in.
    • The sesame balls were quite fresh with a nutty flavour and crumbly texture, but the middle was moist which is unusual. It was good though!
  • Almond Cookies4/6
    • I thoroughly enjoyed the almond cookies here whether they were made in house or brought in.
    • They were crumbly, tender, nutty and sweet with what seemed like a glaze on top and they were incredibly moist for a dry cookie.
    • These were noticeably nuttier than normal and almost tasted a little bit like peanut butter cookies. I like!
    • They were very fresh and I ate three of them!

Hot Taro Root Coconut Soup with Sago1/6

  • I was so excited to not get red bean soup.
  • I actually like this coconut sago dessert. For once it’s a Chinese dessert that I do like, but they made it so poorly.
  • This was so watered down and it was almost just water and sugar. There was barely any sago, coconut milk or taro root.


Floata Seafood on Urbanspoon


  • Jan says:

    Ha Ha! The “famous” Floata! I have been here many times, not of my choosing but because I am attending a function (mostly because it is perhaps the only Chinese restaurant here that can accommodate so many people). It is the only time I would eat there because I have to, and by the time all the proceedings of an event is underway, everyone is so hungry that the food actually tasted ok!
    However, I must admit that I had a similar experience as you … the amazing crispy chicken amidst all the rest. It is as if you are having a sort of a bad meal and suddenly, there is this chicken! Perhaps you should recommend just ordering the crispy chicken!!

  • Joseph Wu says:

    Floata. Sounds like a Chinese mispronunciation of “floater”. Which, of course, describes the quality of the food, the cleanliness, and the service. Like Jan, I go there when I’m dragged there. Otherwise, I avoid this place like the plague…which you might catch by eating there. I’ll stop now before I descend into obscenities. The only place I hate more than Floata is Pink Pearl (which I call Pig City due to a pun on the Chinese name). Very similar in terms of food, cleanliness and service, but they gain extra hate because a waiter spilled hot tea on me and didn’t even notice when I yelled.

  • Gahz says:

    hahahahahahaahh i lost track of the number of times you wrote that something tasted like dirt

  • Linda says:

    OMG poor you! those glasses are hideous! i only go to floata for dimsum and NEVER for dinner, it’s really horrible there – the service, the ambiance and the food, ick ick ick!

    the honey peach pork chop reminds me of honey walnut shrimp which is ten times better – much better combination in terms of flavour and texture. i can’t believe how hip they’re trying to be with this dish, and the mayo? eww.

    even the free soup looks horrible, was that even a good taro piece or a super hard one? aiya aiya!!!

  • Linda says:

    ps – the caterpillar was probably the only thing there that enjoyed food from this restaurant!

  • vivian says:

    I have only one question….why were you at this restaurant?????

  • Mijune says:

    @Jan – lol I know!! What is up with that chicken? I bet they get it from somewhere else.. j/k j/k… but seriously it’s the only thing I could bare to eat!

    @Joseph Wu – I literally LOL’d at your comment. I don’t think any of “us” support this place unless we’re dragged there! Pink Pearl I haven’t even been and it looks like I can avoid! That place is expensive too!

    @Gahz – and the thing is I feel like I “let it go” because it’s Floata.. anywhere else I’d probably 1/6 it! But the expectations are so low already that if I don’t get garbage or bugs I’m already “impressed”.

    @Linda – How is the dim sum? I can’t even try it for dim sum.. the restaurant is just too dirty that the dim sum would freak me out enough. the taro was actually boiled down to pieces… it was probably made yesterday.. ok i’m being mean now.. but honestly it was no good and mushy.

  • shokutsu says:

    OMG. That glass fiasco is insane! The top part of your post was all we needed to see. 🙂

  • Crispy Lechon says:

    I’m really grossed out by that slimy soup. Hope you did not eat it. Same as you it reminded me of bodily fluids, (the adult kind). yuck.

  • Inspector Stanley says:

    Hi MJ – Shock and Awe on Floata…. I am still traumitized from your previous experience there. I am glad this time it was somewhat better, however…… they still need major improvements.

    Here was the report from early March and a reinspection was required!
    Inadequate Insect/Rodent Control
    Sanitize all work surfaces at the start of each day using a bleach and water solution or other approved sanitizer.

    Observations: -Mouse droppings and a hole noted in the back dry storage room. -Roaches were also noted on sticky traps in back dry storage room -Mouse in trap under the cook line -Mouse droppings noted on the slicer table- staff were advised to immediately start washing and sanitizing this table and the slicer, breaking it down completely. -Mouse droppings in the wine room -Mouse on a sticky trap on the stair landing leading up to the staff area -Droppings in both storage areas upstairs in staff area- floor edges mainly -Dead mouse in men’s staff washroom and holes along baseboard To do: -Fill and seal all holes & clean up all droppings, sanitizing affected areas -Fix the men’s staff washroom baseboard -Provide more pest proof containers for dry goods in the storage room- do not keep any open product unprotected -Ensure pest control is treating for roaches in all areas of this facility -Thoroughly clean up all droppings in the storage rooms upstairs -Continue to monitor for new activity
    1 0
    Improper Construction/Maintenance/Sanitation of Establishment
    Cleaning is required in the following areas; -Clean the wall under the sinks and the undersides of the sinks in the BBQ area -fans used for drying meats -ceiling fans and surrounding ceiling tiles -ventilation canopies and their inserts can be manually cleaned in between professional cleanings -legs and wheels of tables/counters and other equipment -behind coolers -sinks all need thorough, detailed scrubbing -flooring under the BBQ Hot Case & the old hot holding unit being used for storage- pull this away from the wall and thoroughly clean under and behind -In the dishwashing area: counters, backsplash, the dishwasher,w alls, flooring. Replace any moulding caulking that can no longer be cleaned -Clean out the back hallways- walls and flooring -clean floor in the side servery area (front) -Main servery/tea station- flooring and shelves and fix the holes along the baseboard where plumbing work was done.

  • Joseph Wu says:

    Pink Pearl (Pig City) is one of those places that routinely shows up on Readers’ Choice Awards. I can never understand why.

  • Joseph Wu says:

    And thanks for the report, Inspector Stanley!

  • Inspector Stanley says:

    Joseph Wu – you don’t have to worry about Pink Pearl appearing on that anymore. Pink Pearl doesn’t exist anymore! (Thankfully…. many many violations!)

  • Bow says:

    Two bad food experiences within a month ? !!! Better grab some Thomas Haas chocolates to get rid of the bad taste. Never liked the food here…hope you got an invite and didn’t pay. The food looks sloppy and dirty glasses ? that’s a turnoff, along w. dirty dishes or teacups. Still don’t know why, w. all that competition, it doesn’t fold. I would guess you took small bites.

  • Allen says:

    The other reason they survive are the eldery folks that jam the place in the mornings for cheap dim sum. I agree this place is not good food. Service is ok at best. I will keep my eye out next time for dirty glasses.

  • Joseph Wu says:

    Hooray! Wonderful news about Pig City! Thanks, Stanley!

  • Elaine says:

    It’s unbelievable how they are still in business…gosh…so gross…

  • Mijune says:

    @shokutsu – true that!

    @Crispy Lechon – lol ewwww I didn’t even think of that!!! EWWWW!!!

    @inspector Stanley – I was waiting for your comment! Welcome back! Omg you’re comment was worse than my post…. *SHUDDER* I literally picked my feet up off the ground after reading it! SCARY!!! MOUSE DROPPINGS??!! NASTY!!! EW! Thanks for the information again and sharing it with others!

    @Joesph Wu – *PHEW*…I don’t even want to know how many more restaurants violate the rules… or do I want to know? *shudder*

    @Bow – small bites for sure!! I was mentally prepared to be so disappointed. I ate mainly the chicken but had to try everything to give it a shot. DRAGGED my heels here!

    @Allen – You got OK service?!?! I’ve never even had OK service here! Just poor service!

    @Elaine – I know!!! 🙁

  • Annie says:

    Giiirrrlll you are brave for stepping foot inside this place again.

  • Mijune says:

    @annie – I dragged my heels and almost faked my death.

  • Peter says:

    Holy crap,

    Two catapilars and a zip tie? And that report from the health inspector didn’t look very good eiether. I went there for dim sum the other day and thankfully, found no bugs in my food. Damn.

    Well, at least it’s cooked food, haha! More protein, lol!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.