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Take yourself back in time, to a Chinese restaurant far far East. If you’re older than 40, you’ll likely recall this as the Chinese restaurant of your youth. When you enter Hoi Ming (469 Montauk Highway, West Sayville, New York) Chinese restaurant, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
We were transported there last night. EVERY parking spot taken in the lot (and this was a Monday night!). The moment I walked in I was giddy with joy. The fountain of youth! This was it. The old bar. The waiters in white shirts and black tie. Nearly every table filled (with Caucasians, of course). The bartender at the bar in the room to your left serving up some of the finest Mai Tai’s I’ve ever had (perhaps my memory of days gone by as faded… kind of like the shriveled up maraschino cherries it was served with… though the orange and pineapple on the garnish were most fresh. The Mai Tai really was excellent).
Come with us on this magical ride.
BOOM! There you are. Back in the early 1970’s! The Chinese restaurant that time totally forgot. Though you bring you with the knowledge, and first hand of experience of living in the present. The present where Authentic Chinese food is served in new Chinese restaurants (or, G-d forbid, Asian Fusion!). Leave your bias at the door. We are here to experience what Chinese restaurants, and Chinese food, was like back in the 70’s.
Americanized Chinese Food
A bowl of chow mein noodles on every table. Two small dishes of soy sauce and mustard. What’s next, dishes served in those metal serving dishes? OF COURSE! This is the REAL deal! A menu that’s broken out in to Column A and Column B? You betcha!
I just knew, like I knew, like I KNEW that they were going to have excellent BBQ Spareribs. And of course, that’s what we started with. And also soup. Philip, (one “L” please), who claimed to be waiting tables there since the year after they opened, and who’s sense of humor was very dry (an omen perhaps of what was to come), suggested we try the Kreplach Soup. He was a funny guy. Service was great through the evening. One bowl of Hot and Sour Soup for Mee Yong Joo, and Wonton Soup for the rest of us. On this night, whilst Mee Gonzi Biao was out looking for Elvis, Mee Da Vee joined us on our crusade, coming all the way from the far west territory known as New Jersey.
Let me tell you this, I loved the ribs. I was still being my giddy self at this time. We also enjoyed the Wonton soup. However, the Hot and Sour Soup was reported to be SWEET.
Next it was time to try some of the entrees. Through an ordering snafu we had Sub Gum Worpa, that we weren’t expecting. Imagine our surprise as we tried to figure out what that dish was! The other five dishes we consciously ordered (no we didn’t do the family-style X from Column A, and Y from Column B). Served at the same time as the Sub Gum Worpa was Kung Pao Chicken.
It became immediately evident to us that not only were we in this time warp, and eating at what seemed to be a 1970’s Chinese restaurant, but I’m not totally convinced that the meats weren’t from the same era. All the meats (whether it be pork, chicken, or beef) were all very dry.
The Kung Pao Chicken also lacked any KUNG, nor POW!! This is Americanized Chinese food!
After that came Roast Pork with String Beans and Orange Beef. The Pork and the Beef were both very dry. The String Beans? Well, you know we love us our Chinese vegetables. But, this one failed us 🙁 The Orange Beef was lacking Orange and also lacking any spice or bite. Orange Beef is typically a spicy dish. Tonight was different from all other Chinese Quest’s that we have been on.
I pray that Mee V. Stoogas will talk to me again one day, for I insisted that being where we were and what we were experiencing, and knowing him like a Brother, and knowing that his go to dish in his youth, and to this day(?) is Chicken Chow Mein. I begged and pleaded with him to order it. I’m NOT a good brother!
We also had Young Chow Fried Rice. Though this dish was darker and heavier than other Young Chow Fried Rice’s we’ve had in the past (err, future), I really liked this dish. It even had chunks of real(?) lobster in it. If I had just had the soup, ribs, and the rice, I think I would have been happy. But…
There’s a limit to how much food even we can stomach. And there were quite a few leftovers, that we shamelessly declined to take. Eager to get back to the future (present), we asked for the check and fortune cookies. The fortune cookies, it seems, also dated from the 1970’s.
Please take this rating for what it is. We have become Chinese food snobs in our “old” age, and we clearly have forgotten our roots The “Good Old Days”, may, or may not, have been so Golden after all.
How much deeper would the ocean be without sponges?
If you want to win anything – a race, your self, your life, you have to go a little beserk.
He who has good health is young.
Imagination (MM: don’t we know it!) is more important than knowledge.
Fortune sides with him (MM: What about “her”?) who dares.
Courtesy is one of the best peacekeepers.
Recommendation to the Owners of Hoi Ming
Do NOT change a thing. Keep everything EXACTLY as it is. Clearly it’s working for you. Are you kidding me? Change? NO WAY! You’ve got a parking lot FULL of cars ON A MONDAY NIGHT!!! You’ve got a Chinese restaurant FILLED to capacity. Clearly you’ve got the right stuff.
Don’t let the lights EVER go out on Hoi Ming. Preserve it for eternity. A national historic landmark. Right there in West Sayville, NY!!
For those of you not near West Sayville, may we suggest some other Chinese restaurants you might want to try?
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)