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China Max - San Diego (long review)

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China Max - San Diego (long review)

phee | Jan 10, 2004 03:12 PM

A friend and I met up for dinner last night, and decided to head for Convoy St. Since it was my pick, I was anxious to try the new place, China Max. When we arrived, we weren't greeted, even though we were passed by four of the employees, two of whom were seating two other parties in front of us. We were finally seated, and promptly given menus and a pot of tea. About 10 minutes later, our waitperson asked if we were ready, and seemed very annoyed when we said we'd like a couple more minutes. We finally ordered: hot and sour soup, fried bacon shrimp rolls, I opted for the Szechuan Style Prawns, and my friend ordered lo mein, but wanted it with assorted meat instead of seafood. Our waitperson had a tough time with this special request and how to write it in Chinese until I suggested "lo mein with beef, chicken, and pork". We waited a long time for our soup and it was followed about two minutes later by the appetizer. The soup was good, but I've had better. The bacon shrimp rolls were wonderful, very crispy outside and stuffed full of shrimp. Then we waited.....and waited. My prawns finally came, and I tried one. Very tender, with a garlicky sauce that had a nice bite. Twenty minutes went by and my friend's lo mein still hadn't come. She shared some of my prawns, which were, by this time, about lukewarm. One dish was erroneously delivered to our table during this time. She finally received her lo mein. She was disappointed in the look of it, as the noodles looked (and subsequently tasted) more like half-inch egg noodles instead of the usual lo mein noodles. Though the dish was tasty enough, it didn't live up to lo meins either of us had eaten in less-touted restaurants (and I only add the "less-touted" because I've read two glowing reports about China Max). By the time we were finished with our meal, we were delivered a plate of orange slices and the check. The front of the restaurant was packed with anxious diners waiting to be seated. Maybe they had better luck with a previous visit. Or maybe they were checking out the new place, just as we were. Though the food was not a complete disappointment, the service was. I might mention that two other take-out orders were filled while we were waiting and both arrived after us. I understand new places sometimes have service issues, and I think the place has potential. Next time I'll try the highly-praised Dungeness crab appetizer. But my "next time" won't be for a few months, with hopes they can work out their service issues.

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