“ Address: 32 Windmillhill Street, Motherwell, ML1 1TA „
~The Restaurant - Location and Layout~
131 Merry Street
Hup Lee is a Chinese buffet restaurant located in Motherwell, Lanarkshire. It is a five minute walk from the main shopping area and has a small car park to the rear of the building. Hup Lee occupies the former Untouchables (wallpaper shop) building.
The exterior of the restaurant is welcoming with large windows allowing a decent amount of natural lighting into the restaurant. There are two gold coloured dragon statues outside too. Inside, there are various seating options available and they can accommodate various sized parties. The layout of the restaurant is spacious and as the restaurant is set across one level, it is perfectly suitable for those who are disabled. Various sized tables and booths make up the bulk of the restaurant and the wooden tables are of a high quality. The decor is stylish and modern.
Hup Lee have a karaoke room to the rear of the restaurant. There is also a seating area if the restaurant is busy and a cloakroom. Prams can also be left in this area. A large television is in this area too. The toilets are just past the bar and there is a disabled toilet and baby changing available. The ladies toilets are very modern and clean. Highchairs are available.
Lunch is available from 12noon (12.30 on a Sunday) to 4.15pm each day.
Dinner is available from 5pm to 10pm (11pm Friday and Saturday night).
When you arrive at the restaurant, you will be shown to your table and drinks orders are promptly taken. You can then help yourself to the food on offer. Any staff we have encountered are friendly enough and quick to clear plates and replenish food. I have noticed in many buffet restaurants that the staff linger and watch to make sure you aren't wasting food (they charge for heavy wastage). I don't like this as I feel a little rushed and intimidated by the constant lingering. The restaurant excepts cash and card payments.
~Food On Offer~
Lunch - £7.80 (adults) and £5.60 (children under 1.5m)
Dinner - £12.90 (adults) and £8.90 (children)
Karaoke and Buffet - £16.80
The majority of the dishes are available all day (lunch and dinner) with a few additional dishes being added in the evening. The buffet area isn't the most spacious but is clean and well replenished. The buffet area is split into a few different sections.
*Starters - there is a chilled cabinet with various salad bits (eggs, coleslaw etc) and prawn cocktail. There is always two types of soup on offer such as chicken noodle or cream of chicken alongside bread and butter.
*Main courses - lots of choice here including typical options such as curry, spare ribs, rice, chips, omelette and chow mein. There are a few vegetarian options available (cauliflower cheese being one) but the majority of substantial dishes are meat based. In the evening, dishes such as sirloin steak are available.
*Desserts - the chiller cabinet offers gateaux and jelly. There are lots of ice cream flavours and toppings available. Apple pies, banana fritters and pineapple fritters too. In the evening, they also offer a chocolate fountain with sticks of marshmallows, shortbread and various fruit. Fresh fruit is also available including watermelon and orange segments.
Drinks are priced individually. For a while, Hup Lee didn't have an alcohol licence but this seems to have been rectified and they serve various spirits and beers. Soft drinks are also available but typically overpriced. A pint of Cola is priced at £2.50 for example.
~Why Hup Lee?~
When Hup Lee first opened, a lot of business was taken away from local restaurants. It is the only buffet restaurant in Motherwell so it was a bit of a novelty for our community. I have dined here around 10 times or so over the past 2 years with my fiance, with my son and with family. I do feel it is expensive especially if you are dining with young children who no longer sit in a highchair for meals. Whenever we dined with our young son, we weren't charged for him as long as he didn't take a plate and was in the highchair. They accommodate families but aren't particularly chatty with the children.
My most recent visit to Hup Lee was yesterday. I cannot say it would have been my first choice of restaurant but my friend had never been before and as she was paying, it was her choice! We dined here with my 4 year old son who is a particularly fussy eater but there is always plenty of choice at a buffet for him and we made sure he got his moneys worth! The restaurant is nearly always busy when we pass and they must do a roaring trade. I will base my experience mainly on yesterdays visit but will also take into consideration past visits.
We were seated quickly and ordered some juice and a Fruit Shoot for my son. The food is plentiful and there is something to suit everyone. The food is always piping hot and fresh which is always a good sign. The range of food isn't exactly adventurous - it is fairly basic. One thing I am not keen on is the prawns being in the same chiller cabinet as the jelly and fruit - it just doesn't seem normal!
I don't visit a buffet to devour salad but the prawn cocktail has always been a hit with my fiance and my friend did enjoy hers. I always opt for soup and in particular, the cream of chicken soup. I absolutely love Chinese soup but find it to be a little on the thin side compared to the nearby Mandarin restaurant. It is nice enough though and there is plenty of chicken but it could be doing with being a little thicker. The bread is thickly sliced and usually tasty if you get some when it is replenished otherwise it can be a little hard. I had a small amount of pasta from the chiller which was cold and quite flavoursome.
I don't think you could go hungry at Hup Lee as the main course options are quite filling and typically Chinese. It would be very easy to fill plate after plate but I tend to limit how much I eat to avoid wastage. The food is of a decent quality in my opinion but nothing outstanding. There is possibly 20-30 split sections in the main buffet area. The rice is moist and there is a choice of egg fried, chicken or plain boiled rice to suit all.
I put together a plate of various bits for my fussy son including prawn crackers, chicken balls, fried rice, bread with butter and he thoroughly enjoyed his meal. Whenever we have visited with my nephew (he eats anything) he definitely gets his monies worth and will take a more 'colourful' plate of food. My friend said she appreciated the selection of food on offer and she is quite fussy too. She piled her plate with curries, rice, noodles and chips - all of which she polished off.
I love my food and opted for a plate of various bits and pieces. The food was pleasant enough for the main part. I don't bother with curry in restaurants as I prefer to choose dishes which I wouldn't normally order from my local Chinese takeaway. The salt and pepper chips were crunchy and nicely seasoned if you want something a little more flavoursome than regular chips. The chicken balls were nice but the spare ribs were lacking flavour and meat. The prawn crackers were delicious as always and cooked just right.
The Hong Kong chicken is delicious and has a lovely rich, sweet and sour like sauce which coats the battered chicken perfectly. I opted for something a bit different yesterday - salt and pepper chicken. It was chicken with a breadcrumb coating and slightly spicy. I enjoyed that. The chow mein is also good with the noodles being cooked to the right consistency. Whilst there are many 'dry' options (rice/noodles etc), there are plenty of saucy dishes to top them and make a filling meal. I enjoyed my meal but it wasn't amazing. There is a good balance of spicy and regular seasoned food so this will suit more tastes. If you aren't fond of spicy foods, you could still slap a meal together of chicken Maryland, chips and veg if you wanted!
I do like the steak they offer at night time as it is always cooked nicely and lovely cuts of meat as well as plenty of onion and vegetables - perfect with some chips. I usually fill my plate with the steak to get my monies worth :)
Dessert choice on our recent visit included little chocolate and cream sponge rolls which my son enjoyed. My son wanted some ice cream which he enjoyed. My friend opted for some gateaux (they had chocolate or strawberry on offer) but I avoided as the strawberry had nuts. She said it was nice enough but could have been doing with being defrosted a little more.
I had some jelly cubes which are very colourful but a weird texture compared to the jelly I make at home. I had some strawberry ice cream and mini marshmallows too. I also opted for some banana and pineapple fritters which I love from Hup Lee due to the seasame and coconut coatings though some may not like this additional coating. I do like dining in the evening as the chocolate fountain is amazing!
Our bill for 2 adults buffets, 1 child buffet, a cordial drink, a pint of Coca Cola and two cans of Sprite came to £29.90. My friend said she thought the food was nice enough but not really worth the price if you don't eat a massive amount. Both of us prefer the Chinese we usually go to for lunch as we can get a 3 course for under £7.00 and the food is more wholesome and tastier overall. Service is much more friendly too. We paid by cash and left.
Overall if you want to dine at a buffet then by all means, go to Hup Lee in Motherwell. If you want a more relaxed, less rushed restaurant where it is more comfortable and even better food, I recommend the nearby Mandarin restaurant. Hup Lee isn't a bad place for a bite to eat but I do find that other restaurants offer more value for money. I totally grudge paying £5.60 for a toddler and do feel an under 5 price would be better as surely a 10 year old will eat more than a 3 year old?
Thanks for reading :)
Originally posted on Ciao June 2012.