418 Dagu Lu (大沽路418号)
We’ve been meaning to go to Nova for… over a year now. We live right on the same street and always walk past, but never ended up there. On a beautifully warm summer’s day, we decided to try out their Brunch.
What I love most about Nova is their outdoor terrace. It’s like a boardwalk with a mini pond surrounding it, and large red umbrellas to provide a bit of shade. The restaurant is always packed with foreigners, relaxing on the terrace during the day and drinking up a storm at night. I’ve been there for drinks before, and was really impressed with the Philippino (I think?) manager, who always seems to be there at all hours of the day. He was prompt, friendly and very accommodating. Unfortunately, we had a strange waiter serving us when we went for brunch.
There is a limited Brunch menu (two options only) so we decided to get the Brunch set, and add a Mushroom soup to share. The soup came out impressive looking in a large wide bowl. It was rich and creamy, however was utterly overpowered by the sheer amount of salt in there. IT WAS REALLY SALTY! About 3 times more salt than was necessary. I couldn’t swallow it and had to leave the rest behind. A huge disappointment :(
The Brunch set seemed like good value, because of the way the menu was laid out to look like each sliver of ingredient was a full dish. The bread basket was, sadly, falsely advertised – it showed 3 types of breads and also listed “brioche” on the menu. Instead, it was just sliced baguette, and a mini amount of marmalade and butter (enough to cover 1-2 slices). I thought the Chinese waiter was confused and asked for clarification (I adore brioche and was specifically after that), and he sighed and said I was “too much trouble” for asking and muttered something else before just walking off, leaving me bewildered.
The thick-cut salmon was not “thick cut” at all, but rather a small sliver. Scrambled eggs was half an egg’s worth (!), placed hilariously in a wee saucer (the dish was smaller than my palm) – so we had no idea what it was until we tasted it. The sunny side up egg was good though, with a nice runny yolk. Grilled bacon and sausage was a cheap Chinese sausage, not a thick delicious one that we were expecting in a good restaurant. The broccoli and asparagus were nice, but a bit strange to have at brunch. The pea and ham soup was unappetising and left un-eaten. Fortunately, the butter rice was delicious, though it was a teeny portion.
The brunch set also came with a cherry tomatoes, pesto, parmesan side dish which was small but tasted fresh and lovely, and we enjoyed the orange juice and iced coffee (both fantastic!). The fruit salad, however, was a little pathetic. Very very very tiny cubes of fruit and drenched in sugar syrup – very Chinese style. At 138元 the variety given was impressive and fun, however the quality and quantity of the ingredients wasn’t quite up to scratch.
We may go back for a drink, or to try their dinner menu… but definitely not for the brunch.
The outdoor terrace at Nova
Mushroom soup – extremely salty so I couldn’t finish it
Brunch set – an WEIRD combination of salmon, beans, broccoli, bacon,
sausage, egg, rice, (mini) scrambled egg, pea & ham soup, tomato salad.
A cheap, half-hearted fruit salad that came with the Brunch set
Fantastic iced coffee