Monday, October 17, 2011

The Picky Pagan #2: Yangtze Restaurant in Ontario, CA

I have recently moved to Ontario. The day of the move, my parents came to help me. After a long day of moving my existence in and out of the U-Haul style truck, my parents and I were famished. We asked my new land lady, who has been a long-term resident of Ontario, where we could find a good Chinese restaurant (this is the one style of non steak house restaurant that my parents and I consistently agree on). My land lady recommended Yangtze. She related to us that she had been patronizing this establishment for years and it was her family's favorite. With the local recommendation, and the location being a stone's throw away, we felt like we had we were presented with a good choice.

We arrived at about 8:30 p.m. It was a Friday evening and the parking lot/dining room was bare. Red flags started to shoot up in my brain immediately. They had an old cigarette vending machine (not operating) in the rear entrance, which gave the place a pretty nostalgic feeling. The decor seemed as though as it had been there since the 1920s, which I personally like. However, the vinyl on the booth was cracking which was kind of annoying. Our waitress visited us quickly. Seeing as how there was only one other table that was filled, the quick service was expected. Our waitress was getting on in years and told my parents she had been working there for decades. I ordered wonton soup as an appetizer, and my parents had no appetizers. The broth was definitely out of a can, and I am pretty sure the wontons had been bought out or made a week prior and frozen. It did not taste bad, just I could have made the same dish at home for cheaper. My family usually orders family style for entrees when it comes to Chinese. We ordered Kung Pao Beef, Chicken Lo Mein and Broccoli Beef. A pretty standard order for any Americans at a Chinese restaurant. I flirted with the idea of ordering a whole duck or some sea food, but I decided to try the staples and come back for the dangerous stuff another day if everything went okay. Unfortunately it did not. The food came in about 5 minutes, which told me it was microwaved or had been under a heat lamp since the afternoon. The Kung Pao Beef lacked any semblance of spice and tasted a little off. The Lo Mein was pretty slimy and the noodles were overly soggy. The only tolerable dish was the Broccoli Beef and this was due the fact that I love broccoli, frozen or fresh. I have never been one to really send stuff back unless it is undercooked or burnt, so I asked the waitress if they had some Sriracha or any type of chili sauce, she happily obliged and brought a crusty glass cup from the kitchen containing chili oil. I immediately realized why my Kung Pao Beef was off. The chili oil was rancid! I resigned to just finishing my steamed rice and letting my parents eat whatever they wanted to stomach. The one redeeming quality was the owner. He is the son of the man who opened the restaurant in the 1950s. He was extremely friendly and made a sincere effort to talk about the history of the place and converse with my parents, who are of the same age (early 60s), about his travels and their travels. About 15 minutes in to the conversation, after my parents had finished eating, I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I proceeded to rush the conversation and my parents out the door. When I we got back to my new residence, my parents and I said our good-byes, and I rushed to the bathroom.

Overall it is a shame that such a historic and unique place should be run so poorly. I can do nothing but give Yangtze a

.5 broomsticks out of 5.

The .5 is accredited due to the owner's friendliness.

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