Queenstown eateries’ grubby grades


Hygiene at two Queenstown eateries is “unacceptable” - but the dirty duo remain open.

Beach Street’s Mandarin and Shotover St’s Noodle Canteen are on “increased monitoring”, council regulatory boss Lee Webster says, “to remedy issues but also ensure public safety”.

In council hygiene ratings first reported last July, both eateries were graded C - less-than-good.

They’re now D - ”unacceptable”.

Council reports allege major hygiene problems.

Accusations against Noodle Canteen include dirty storage containers, rotting vegetables, flies swarming into open bags of rice and flour, dirty cleaning cloths, “insufficient food safety controls” and staff not understanding personal hygiene.

“The whole restaurant needed a deep clean from top to bottom,” council inspector Helen Evans reported last month.

Mandarin suffers “serious” food safety breaches, “a complete lack of understanding of personal hygiene”, no system to store food at safe temperatures, “numerous examples of direct cross-contamination”, dirty containers and staff washing hands in the food preparation sink. 

“The whole restaurant needed a deep clean from top to bottom,” Evans again reported last December, giving Mandarin only four points out of 30 for its annual test.

A January re-inspection showed “some improvement in cleaning”, Evans says, but “more work is needed to deep clean the kitchen”.

The council received a public complaint about Mandarin last month over “deliveries of fish made to the restaurant and … repeatedly left outside for long periods,” Evans writes.

Her March 10 inspection sustained the complaint, exposing more problems:

At 10.20am Evans noted boxes of frozen seafood outside Mandarin - it was still outside three hours later

Mould was growing on a tin of “mini corn” in the chiller and “food was stored on the floor”

“The premises needed a thorough clean. There were poor levels of cleanliness throughout the kitchen.”

Mandarin manager Ocean Chan claims “the council’s overdoing it”.

Evans is new and too tough, he says: “The council always blame us for stuff.”

The seafood was bad luck: “[The supplier] just got a new driver and he didn’t know where to put these things.”

Chan believes Mandarin is safe: “We do a major clean-up once a week but we usually clean every night as well.”

Noodle Canteen’s James Truong won’t comment: “You write what you need to write - I need to sort out what I need to sort out with the council.”

Evans flags a language problem, telling English-speaking Truong he must attend a food-hygiene course in Dunedin and then train his Chinese staff because there are no Chinese-language courses.

If things are so bad, Mountain Scene asked council boss Webster, why not close the eateries down until they clean up?

“D grade premises would generally be closed,” Webster says, “however this depends on the issues found.

“These premises either closed voluntarily to remedy the risks or remedied the issues there and then.

“Because of the matters found, the D grade remains until a re-grade is requested,” Webster says.

Medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell reacted tersely when told of the Mandarin and Noodle Canteen reports.

“Alarming and worrying,” Bell says. “The [council] descriptions speak for themselves.”

he hails the council grading system for revealing shortcomings: “Paying customers are personally entitled to that Sort of information.”