By Judi Curry
How does one review a restaurant when the menu runs 19 pages? How does one review a restaurant when there are 8 people eating at the same table and each one orders something else? This is going to be a challenge. A lot will be done by pictures.
Five of us arrived at the restaurant early – 7:00 – and decided to order appetizers while waiting for the others to join us. Our hosts, Anna and Rich, selected an order of Vietnamese egg rolls, (Cha Gio) that were made with tofu, lettuce, and served with a nice fish sauce. The cost for 6 rolls was $4.95. In addition, an order of pork rolls ($3.25) and an order of Shrimp and Pork rolls ($3.25) was ordered.
By the time all of the guests arrived, so had the appetizers and we all delighted in trying everything that was put on the lazy susan in front of us. (I have always rued the fact that I am short because I could never reach things in high cupboards. Now I have another reason to wish I were taller – or at least that my arms were longer. Even thought the lazy susan was large, I still could not reach things placed on it without partially standing up to reach the dish I wanted. But everyone around me was helpful, and at no time did I go without food because I couldn’t reach it!)
Our waiter was somewhat impatient with me, which I didn’t appreciate. I asked some questions about differences in menu items, and he could not answer me, primarily because of lack of English. He told me to have Shrimp and broccoli when I asked what was in the Sauteed Shrimp, but I don’t care for broccoli and didn’t want it. When I asked other questions he ignored me and I ended up ordering something I was not sure I wanted.
I do not remember being asked if I wanted a drink, and only had water. So did the rest of us. Lisa, one of our braver diners, ordered a “BOBA” tea, that had funny little black things at the bottom of the glass. This tea, commonly called Pearl Milk Tea is a sweetly flavored tea beverage invented in Taiwan. The chewy black things are tapioca. Although interesting, I did not find much flavor to the tapioca, and can see where many people just swallow them without trying to chew them. It is interesting to note that the diameter of the straw served with the tea was almost one half inch round. The cost was $2.99
Later in the meal, Anna and I ordered an Avocado Shake – Sinh To Bo ($3.50) that tasted like ice cream with a slight avocado flavor. People at the table liked it; I would have like a more avocado taste. I would not order it again, but others would.
Each of us ordered something different so that we all had a variety of food to taste. I am so sorry that I cannot tell you everything that was ordered, but the following are those I remember and can find on the menu: Goat Curry was a favorite of Anna’s and very tasty. Unfortunately, the picture I took did not come out.
I ordered Sauteed Shrimp, and it was served nicely. It was slightly overcooked – it was difficult to peel the shell away from the shrimp, which was served with antennae, tails, and legs. Because of the way it was served, the vein was not removed during the cooking process and it was very prominent when the shell was removed.
George ordered vegetarian eggplant cooked with sweet and sour and fresh ginger sauce and said it was delicious ; Lisa ordered BBQ beef char grilled with a coconut sauce that was also tasty. The fresh ginger chicken with onions and garlic and vegetables that Rich ordered was also very tasty and was served with a huge pot of steamed rice. An order of stirred fry vegetables with tofu and mushrooms was ordered by Mary and it was delicious. Tom ordered a Pho dish and said it was very good. His wife did not order anything and nibbled on what was on the table. Believe me, there was a lot, and we took bags and bags of food home. Suffice it to say that the portions served to us on everything was huge.
Of course I cannot go to a restaurant and be happy with everything – it is not in my makeup. Suffice it to say that the food was good; it was all served hot, and because there were so many orders I would not expect it all to be served all at one time. But for the most part we did not have to wait for any order.
The service, however, left something to be desired. Since we were all drinking water, it would have been nice if our water glasses had been refilled. George asked to have more water and only his glass was refilled. I was seated two seats down from him and my glass was empty. It was not refilled until just before we were ready to leave. It would have been nice if serving spoons had been available with each entrée. As it was, we all used our chopsticks to put food on our plate, and after the first “go-around” all of the chopsticks had been in our mouths. Hopefully none of us were ill or had contagious diseases.
It was quite noisy and I don’t think anything can be done about it, but I have to say that not having a television to contend with was wonderful. Anna told me that at one time they had karaoke but do not have it anymore.
There is a large parking lot available which I imagine can fill up when the restaurant is full. Trying to park on El Cajon Blvd. is a chore, so the lot was welcomed.
The most amazing thing about this meal for the 8 of us was the final cost. Are you ready for this? Without the tip, the meal was $130. If someone had told me that I would not have believed them. But I was seated next to Rich and saw the bill. I was truly surprised.
So…would I go there again? Maybe. If I had to give it a letter ranking what would it be? Probably a B or B-. But it was a fun evening; sampling so many different entrees was an experience, and for that reason alone I would return.