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Restaurants & Bars 4

Kwong's - SFO/Millbrae area (long)

KathySK | Aug 11, 200504:29 PM

Two of us went for a rather late dinner last night and decided on Kwong's since they stay open pretty late. This was our first visit and we had mixed results. Overall the food was pretty good at a fair, though not outstanding, price. The service was... bizarre.

When we first walked in there were maybe 4 tables occupied and the hostess was on the phone. We waited (patiently) several minutes for her to wrap up her conversation (clearly chatting with a friend or family, not taking an order or reservations, etc) and then to seat us. She sat us at a table with no plates, cups, chopsticks, etc. She then walked by hurriedly a few minutes later and literally threw two forks on the table. Not one in front of each of us, or setting them down between us even. She literally tossed them onto the table from a couple feet away. I've never seen that in any restaurant before and it seriously surprised me - my dining companion and I just sort of shrugged it off, but it was such an odd moment.

We opted for the "B" dinner for 2 ($13.50 each) - it came with egg rolls, fried squid, won ton soup, yang chow fried rice, peking spare ribs and shrimp in lobster sauce. We asked when we ordered if we could substitute Mongolian beef for the spare ribs (my dining companion doesn't care for spare ribs). Initially the hostess/waitress just said "no" and walked away. Later she told us that she'd changed it in the kitchen.

A young man, maybe a son?, helped serve as well and he was a lot friendlier. If he'd been the only server I would likely not have had any complaints. He even offered us rice bowls which, after the fork incident, I wasn't expecting.

Food wise:
Won ton soup - a small cup each was served, which was fine. Each bowl came with three dumplings, a few green onions and chives. The dumplings themselves were tender and had a bit of shrimp and pork in each of them - these were outstanding. The broth itself was fine as a background, but nothing special.

Squid and the eggrolls came out together along with a dish of sweet and sour sauce. The squid was in big pieces in a light, puffy batter - almost like a beer batter treatment. Some of the pieces were a little chewier than I'd like, but overall they were fine. The egg rolls were greasy, but also fine.

The two entrees were served well in advance of the rice, so we sort of waited a little while for the rice to arrive.

Yang chow fried rice - a big plate of rice with some nice color from the wok. Lots of little salad/bay shrimp were in the rice, as well as a lot of egg. This was quite tasty and we finished every bit of it.

Shrimp in lobster sauce - they did serve us a nice amount of shrimp accompanied by onions and bell pepper in a black peppery sauce. There were several bits of shredded ginger in the sauce that gave it bursts of flavor when you found one, but the flavor hadn't mixed in thoroughly. This was good, but not outstanding.

Mongolian beef - I've never had this dish served quite how they did, a good amount of strips of beef, some hot pepper pods and some dark green, oniony strips (maybe the tops of green onions? I wasn't really sure) served over some dry noodles (cellophane noodles?) and that was it. Not much in the way of sauce or other vegetables. The noodles served under the beef were really unpleasant where they stuck to the meat, they were stale as could be - I've had these before with other dishes, usually I've seen them with walnut prawns. In other instances they've been sort of light with a bit of crunch and then they dissappear with not much of a taste. Last night they were stale, they had no crunch to them, and you certainly couldn't chew them to get rid of them. I spent a lot of time picking these off the meat. The flavor of the dish itself was ok, but not as spicy as I'd have liked. This was probably my least favorite part of the meal.

More service oddities dotted the meal - I asked for water and got some, but we weren't asked if we wanted refills until our plates were being cleared. Then, when it was time to pay the bill, it was presented, unitemized, just one number (presumably including tax, since it didn't match up to the price of the meal we ordered, exactly). We paid in cash, but didn't have exact change, so we waited... and waited... and waited... for change to arrive. It never did, so we finally gave up on it and rather than making an issue of it, we left. The amount of change was close to what we would usually have tipped, so perhaps they assumed it was intended as tip, but frankly, after such spotty and WEIRD treatment I wouldn't have been tipping that generously.

I don't know if we somehow offended them, if they treat all customers who aren't regulars like that or what, but it put me off returning for certain. If I got food from them again it would definitely be ordered to go.

I know there was a string of posts earlier about how problems can't be addressed if the restaurant doesn't know about them, and complaining about it here doesn't fix anything... but I don't even know what we could have done, when it was the hostess and one of only two servers that behaved this way to us. It's not my intention to slam the restaurant here without giving them a chance to fix things - but I don't even know how we could have gone about addressing it in that situation.

Anyhow, just my experience, for whatever it's worth.

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