I’m a writer. I typically write about my books, observations about society, or just stuff that I’ve been up to. This is my first restaurant review. No one put me up to this because basically the place was so bad that I am compelled to write about it and warn you. STAY AWAY!
I’ve consumed a ton of Chinese food, Japanese food, and some Thai food as well in my time. After I met my wife of Filipino descent, I was reintroduced to Asian food; such as Dim Sum and other eateries of Asian fare. Food is an educational experience. I enjoy it so much.
When I met my wife in 2003, I wanted to take her to Asia Cafe in Napa, where I lived at the time. She took a pass. She came from the corporate world and appreciated a finer affair. I took her to Peking Palace instead. You see, Asia Cafe is a hole in the wall that hasn’t changed their decor since its inception – like forty years. I don’t remember it being terrible. But we bypassed it and ate elsewhere. I should have listened.
Last night I decided to revisit Asia Cafe. I brought my wife and our kids. And guess what? The decor still hasn’t changed. I thought that this was going to be great. Some real hearty Chinese food from a hole in the wall dive with a large neon, Chop Suey sign outside; a place that I remembered to be just fine.
Well as I stated, the decor is horrible – booth seating with floral prints, unclean tables, a beat down A/C unit over the door, and a door that takes forever to close thereby allowing the draft to waft in. Asia Cafe is owned by a Chinese couple. The husband is the chef and the dishwasher. I think he washes the meat in the dishwater too.
Seating ourselves, I scanned the condiments – salt, pepper, soy sauce, and a bottle of red sauce with a dried husk at the squirt end completely covering it. Pretty ugly. That was my first internal alert. As we perused the menu, I noticed that it said CASH OR CHECK ONLY on the menu cover. Great! They don’t take debit or credit cards. Fine.
When we wanted to order our food, the lady forgot about us so my wife got up and ordered at the cash register. A great way to start off. Anyway, we ordered Fried Prawns, Pot Stickers, Mongolian Beef, Lemon Chicken, and Pan Fried Noodles. Usually we get vegetables too but those were lacking on the menu. I guess it’s harder to keep fresh veggies as opposed to tasteless meat lying around.
Waiting for the order, I made a beeline for the great outdoors to find an ATM machine. I found one, got some extra cash, and made it back in time to wait some more. Relaxing at the table, my body was letting me know that it was time to hit the head. So I went to the restroom. Oh Boy! Inside that little gem of a room it smelled like sewage. I am certain something was wrong with the sink’s “P” trap allowing gases from the sewage line to come up through the sink drain. It was gross.
Back at the table our waitress began serving up dishes – one course at a time. She didn’t bring out the food in one lump sum. Instead, it was one slow dish after another. The Fried Prawns weren’t prawns at all. They were Fried Shrimp – small. That sucks! We devoured them. At least they were shelled, unlike at that overly decorated crap hole, P.F. Chang’s.
Eventually the Pot Stickers showed up. Those were fine. How can those get messed up? Just buy a bag at Costco, open them, boil, and serve. They were okay.
Next came the Pan Fried Noodles. Oh boy! When I saw those, I was shocked that my wife ordered something like that. It was a thick bed of those Chun King Chow Mein, curly sticks topped with some slimy celery and mushrooms. I laughed. This had to be a joke. It looked like the Chun King garbage my dad would make when I was a kid (we were broke back in the day). Whatever. It was a waste. It wasn’t Pan Fried noodles.
Then came the Mongolian Beef, a favorite of mine. When the plate hit the table, I knew something was wrong. I have good vision and a great gut instinct. I swore what was laid on the table before us was chicken. The meat was kind of pale. It had to be the Lemon Chicken… albeit a nasty looking Lemon Chicken (I asked for the check at this point for a quick exit.). On closer inspection… it was Mongolian Beef. I stared at my wife, like, are you serious? Anyway, I dug in and tried a few slices of the skinny, pale meat. GROSS! It had little flavor but was spicy (perfect for the kids. Not.). It was so bland and just nasty. I took a pass on those rat slices.
Then she brought out the Lemon Chicken. It was slabs of chicken with a rubbery crust drenched in lemon sauce. And I do mean drenched. I dug in, hoping it could save the meal. My wife reminded me that it could not. True. When I took a bite, it was like eating a piece of lemon meringue pie. It had so much lemon sauce there was nothing there. GAWD! Man it was really uncool!
At this point I was completely unhappy and knew that in 2003 my wife was correct to not allow me to take her to Asia Cafe. There are some hole in the wall eateries that are awesome. Asia Cafe is not one of them. It’s simply a hole in the wall that includes a chef who is also the dishwasher. It was so bad that I wouldn’t feed a Gwai Lo’s dog that swill.
I was so disappointed. How could this happen to me? I got to pick the restaurant and it turned into a nightmare to my eyes, upon my taste-buds, and in my stomach. I couldn’t wait to get home to cleanse myself with a large glass of orange juice.
If you decide to go, I warned you. I did my best to make you stay away. So STAY AWAY! I give it one-quarter of one star for staying in business for so long.
Side-Note: I perused Yelp for reviews of Asia Cafe. I found some real keepers. I’ll share one:
This place was an absolute nightmare! First off, they have no vegetables on their menu accept veggie fried rice. The food was not up to par. It was salted, over cooked and nasty.
And the service… I’ve never had a such a poor, rude experience in a restaurant in my life. My husband ordered a beer. The beer came to us poured already in a glass. There was a small fly inside of the drink. When the owner came back to the table we told her that there was a fly in the beer. She looked at it, laughed and said “It’s still alive.” I told her we don’t want it and she said “That’s not my problem.” My husband agreed with me and she rudely grabbed the bill, sighed in frustration and scratched off the beer from the bill.
We couldn’t believe that she would act so rudely and get frustrated with us because there was a bug in our drink! Do not support this place!