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Jun 24, 2005 11:47 AM

Shun Lee - so mediocre (long)

  • b

Against my better judgement, I took my wife and kids to Shun Lee last night. It's sort of a NYC institution and we thought it might be fun for the kids. Wow! I felt like I had walked into some suburban Chinese restaurant from the 1970's. Aside from the completely impersonal greeting and the obligatory "your table will be ready in a few minutes" which stretched to 15 minutes without as much as a glance, the food was mediocre at best and almost three times what it would cost at your local delivery joint. Again, I had some sense of what I was getting into...I just didn't know what a weak dining experience it would be. Waited a long time to order. Apps were cold hacked chicken, seseme noodles and steamed dumplings. The first two were tasteless except for the very similar gooey peanut sauce. The steamed dumplings were actually not bad, best thing we ate all night. Appetizer plates took forever to be removed. Entrees were some sort of crispy duck contraption that brought to mind old Swanson TV dinner fried chicken, shrimp drowned in some glopy sauce and the most anemic broccoli in garlic sauce. Couldn't get out of there fast enough. The sort of meal where if you had done it at your local joint and paid a third of the what the bill at Shun Lee was you would have felt slightly ripped off. Has anyone had a good experience at this place recently?

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  1. i'm not surprised at all...that's pretty much identical to the experience i had there four years ago...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Simon

      I've been there 3 times and each time I left not understanding why this placed is so beloved. Its really strange. The same thing with Tse Yang. Highly rated places with extraordinarily mediocre food. Chin Chin and Chiam is a little better but not by much.

      1. re: Mickey Blue

        I used to go the the "Shun Lee Palace" around 1970. It was a really nice place to eat then, and had a big following which explains its longevity. I tried "Shun Lee West" about 3 years ago and it did not come up to my memories of the old place. The food ranged from ok to poor, the service was perfuntory. Oh but I do vividly remember the "velvet shrimp", "whole cooked seabass", "lemon chicken", "pan fried dumplings" etc. from the old days! :)

        1. re: Jon36

          I just have to say one thing. I will pay alot of money for good food. But not food like chinese or spanish food. It is made with such simple ingredients, and its not worth it.
          Shun Lee West is not better than places in Chinatown like Mr. Tangs on Mott St. and Woh Hop. Its just not better and their not nice at Shun Lee.
          PAY $20 FOR CHINESSE FOOD NOT $60!

          1. re: carl
            chin-chuan lai

            I understand the sentiment, especially because there isn't any Chinese food that's really worth eating in the city.

    2. Which Shun Lee? We were at Shun Lee West last night, enjoyed the food, although the service was a little on the slow side. Perfectly friendly though.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        Shun Lee is excellent...your review sounds like sour grapes

        1. re: Buddha Belly

          Confused. To express "sour grapes" means to disparage something unattainable (e.g., "I've decided that those delicious-looking grapes I've been trying and failing to reach high up in that tree are sour, after all, and not worth the bother"). The unpleasant food at Shun Lee is perfectly attainable. Here's how: (a) you walk in, (b) you ask for a table, (c) you order a meal, (d) you eat it, and (e) you pay. Oh boy, do you pay. Perhaps when you accused the first reviewer of "sour grapes," you MEANT to say "Your opinion is very different from mine." Is that right?

          1. re: Dan Geist

            Time to resurrect an old post. Has anyone been to SL Palace recently? We're thinking of going for lunch sometime soon. Do they have the $24.07 lunch menu like most restaurants?

      2. OK, so here's a question. I am looking for a good dining experience and have a craving for Asian food. I am not particularly fond of Chinese food but have a 'thing' about Peking duck. I was toying with Phillippe, Tse Yang or Shun Lee Palace. I know food in other places may be more authentic but as I say I also want to spend a couple of hours over dinner in a nice restaurant.
        If there is no truly good Chinese food in the city (I really know nothing about it), what about other Asian food??
        As ever, I donlt mind paying but I hate being ripped off.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kofka

          I think the Peking Duck at Tse Yang is excellent - the rest of the dishes so so - v. expensive. I also like this dish at Chin Chin.

          1. re: kofka

            I personally really like the Peking Duck at Chinatown Brasserie. I like it because it's not as "fatty" as some of the other places (e.g. at Peking Duck House it's mostly fat and skin) at Chinatown Brasserie they somehow remove a lot of that middle fatty part, leaving the meat and crispy skin. Chinatown Brasserie is also just really nice from a decor/atmosphere perspective.

            1. re: kofka

              Here's the link to the restaurant.

              Chinatown Brasserie
              380 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012