After reading so much about Ming's Diner on this board, my friend and I went straight on by 8 Immortals to try it. I was in particular looking forward to the young chicken w/ sticky rice.
When we arrived, every table was full. A couple of people were waiting for carry out orders, but we two were the only ones waiting for a table. We were not acknowledged by any of the staff people, which would have been neither here nor there except for what followed.
As we waited, we observed a disagreement about the bill for one table escalate into yelling from the waiter. That put us on guard. But, several tables then left and we were seated.
While looking at the menus we noticed that there seemed to be a large party upstairs, and all the 8-tops were full downstairs, as well as (I think) every other table. So, they were *very* busy. Does anyone know if it was a special occassion Friday night? We (one Chinese Indonesian/one American) couldn't think of one.
Anyway, we ordered the young chicken w/ sticky rice, shredded beef with black pepper, chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, and steamed rice.
The chicken stuffed w/ sticky rice came first (and quickly, I might add). It was *very* good, with crispy skin, savory stuffing, and nice, tender flesh of the chicken. I enjoyed this dish very much. My only complaint would be that it was barely warm, instead of hot.
Then, the shredded beef came at a good time. We had eaten quite a bit, but not all, of the chicken, and were ready for the change. It was very tasty. My friend said it's common dish but I'd never had it before. We both enjoyed its peppery flavor. It had green peppers and onions, and a nice sauce that didn't overwhelm. We had to request the rice, twice I think, that we'd ordered with the rest of the meal.
Then, things went downhill. We waited 25-30 minutes for the last dish, then asked a waiter (the one we'd observed yelling at customers early) about it. He barked at us that the kitchen was very busy and we should just wait. This didn't please my friend too much, but I was willing to wait a bit longer. I observed dishes coming quickly and without interruption to the upstairs and to the larger tables downstairs. One of the larger tables seemed to be friends with one of the kitchen folk, because I watched him serve a number of dishes and then sit down w/ them for a chat. A number of the smaller tables looked as displeased as we felt.
They had two waiters (the angry one who yelled at the original table and told us we should just wait) and a nicer one. Both seemed surprised to find themselves in this situation, as if they didn't anticipate such a crowd. There was another woman who had been at the front counter when we entered. She finally started helping to serve.
After about 10 more minutes we asked the nicer waiter (being afraid of a tongue-lashing from the other one) to please cancel our chinese brocolli if it hadn't been started. He disappeared to the kitchen, and the woman came by asking us if we were finished. I told her that we had cancelled our last dish because we didn't care to wait any longer than 40 minutes for chinese broccoli (a dish that must take all of 5 minutes to prepare). I told her that the food was good, but we didn't want to wait. She checked with the kitchen, cancelled the order, and took it off our bill but didn't offer a real apology or explanation. My guess is they simply forgot it. However, if the original waiter we asked about it would have bothered to check, we would have found out much earlier what was going on.
So, anyway, that certainly put a damper on our enjoyment of the meal! Any comments from you Ming's Diner regulars? Did we just hit them on a bad night? I have to say that when I was waiting tables I considered it part of my job to make sure that all that was ordered was delivered to the table. I remember monitoring my tickets to make sure I wasn't forgeting anything. I assume this to be standard procedure for waiters.