Has the Soup Nazi decided to expand his food empire?
Our annual Christmas day Chinese food pilgrimage took us to the Lake Pavilion in Flushing, New York for the second year in a row. Last years’ experience was so pleasant that, I was the person to suggest we review Lake Pavilion in the first place, and it was my favorite authentic Chinese restaurant where I felt I could go back over and over, because I felt it was that good. Well, I had a rude awakening!
We arrived for our 5:30PM reservation, and I was surprised that only three of the seemingly hundred tables were seated. We were told, not to worry, because the place will be filled.
We placed our order as soon as we sat down. Everyone wanted the sought after soup dumplings, along with house special soup, lobster, scallops in a brown sauce with water-chestnuts, jumbo shrimp in a mayo sauce with caramelized walnuts and broccoli, the usually delicious Peking Duck, sautéed snow pea leaves in garlic, some deep-fried pork bits and taro, whole crispy garlic chicken and of course, house fried rice. Did I mention that there are eight of us, and all this food is not just for Mee?
The First Disappointment
Our waiter comes back saying they are out of soup dumplings. REALLY! With a handful of people there, how could they run out after the most sought after dish on the busiest day of the year? Mee thinks they were holding these dishes for their regular crowd and did not want to waste it on us, infidels. I guess they didn’t recognize Mee? Well, we replaced that with steamed shrimp and veggie dumplings.
The Second Disappointment
First dish to arrive, two lobsters in the usual delicious sauce. But wait, where’s the “meat”? These two lobsters’ total meat content was maybe six ounces? Really, I think I had a small bite of meat and I savored it because that bite was worth about $10. The duck, same story. The buns had a miniscule amount of duck meat in them, and even the rest of the duck served was lacking in the meat department. Next came the soup. I noticed they dished out six bowls for eight people? Hello? We are eight; remember we said we were eight as we were being seated? Next arrived the other dishes one by one, but still no rice. We asked the waiter where the rice is, as we enjoy our rice with our food. The answer was a stern, NO! YOU WAIT! Oh well, better don’t get them mad. I asked for some white rice, once a freely given side dish, but they were reluctant to give us even white rice while we wait for our house special fried rice. But it seems NO white rice was in the fortune cookie for this evening.
The crispy chicken arrived as the last dish. It is usually cut up for easy serving. I noticed the chicken was raw, with blood showing thru every section on the dish. We asked the waiter if they could cook it more, as it was still uncooked. His answer to us was, “You mean you want it cooked 100%?” Well, I have never ordered my chicken rare, or medium rare, and from where I come (the Mee region) we like our chickens cooked thoroughly, so YES I WANT IT COOKED 100%, sheesh!
By 6:30, the place was packed, with hundreds of people waiting to be seated. I guess it was a good idea to arrive early, but that was the only good decision we had made that night.
Oh and the bill, yes we ordered a lot, but glad we did because most dishes were lacking in substance. The total came to $300 for eight including tax and tip. No drinks. That would have been fine if we were satisfied, and I wasn’t the only person feeling this was less than an adequate experience. We wondered where we would go next year.
And so our saga, and our Quest, will continue!
With hunger and regrets,
Mee Yong Joo