I had dinner today at Mr. Chow (the 57th St location). It's Oscar night so it was pretty empty. We had a reservation for 7:30 and were seated promptly when we arrived. There were no notable stars out tonight. I am visiting NYC from Los Angeles (and no, I haven't been to Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills).
Pictures are up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rvd90277/sets/72157594557182917/
This was my first time there and I read the reviews so I knew what to expect. It's really one of those places where you can't really think too much about price and if you have to ask how much something costs, you probably can't afford it.
With that said...
We were promptly seated. There were 3 of us (my friend, my wife, and I). The waiter asked if we'd like a glass of champagne to start. My friend and I said yes and we got a standard chute of rose champagne (Laurent Perrier Rose). Of course there was no mention of price and we were not given a menu. And of course the waiter pushed that he would order for us.
I read the reviews and knew that I could order on my own but decided to let the waiter order stuff for us. We told him what we don't like...including squab, duck, lamb (my wife and friend are not very adventuristic when it comes to gastronomy so they said only standard vegetables, beef, chicken, seafood (fish, shrimp, lobster).
My friend really likes their chicken satay so he ordered 6 pieces to start as our appetizer. In addition, he liked their crispy beef so he ordered that. My wife likes to have a noodle type dish (like chow mein, chow fun, etc.) so she asked about that. The waiter said that they have "Mr. Chow Noodles" and it's like "pasta" (heh, not a very good description but oh well).
The chicken satay was pretty good. My wife hated it and took one bite and wanted no more. My friend loves it so he ate 3 pieces. I had 2 pieces and it was ok. I've had the same thing hundreds of times at the local Thai restaurants (and even at the local farmer's market in Torrance, CA).
We also got the chili sauce at this time. My friend also asked for soy sauce and they brought that out promptly.
The next appetizer was the shrimp rolls. The shrimp rolls were good but no better than the stuff you'll find at any dim sum place in Chinatown.
Our main courses arrived. Fried chicken with sweet sauce (hoisin sauce?) was ok but a little salty and a little too sweet. The sauce was a little funky tasting and after about 2-3 pieces I got really sick of it. This was the type of dish that they have at PF Changs or Panda Express.
Shrimp fried rice was good. The rice was a little soggy but that's kind of how I like it (I'm Korean). Of course it wasn't any different than shrimp fried rice at any restaurant.
Baby bok choy in garlic sauce. My wife told the waiter "I like baby bok choy" so this is what the waiter got. It was pretty underwhelming. I could make this at home in 5 minutes.
Lobster in special sauce. The lobster was pretty small (probably a 1.5 pounder). If anyone ever goes down to Southern California, head over to Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant in Irvine, CA (corner of Culver Blvd / Irvine Center Dr.) and order this dish there. It's the same dish but tastes better there.
Filet Mignon. The beef was dry. The sauce was plain. We left 2/3 of this dish on the table it was so bad.
Mr. Chow noodles. If you want noodles, Mr. Chow is not the place to have them. Just go to Chinatown and order dan-dan noodles and they will be much better than this tasteless dish. It looked like they just grabbed udon noodles and boiled them or something.
Crispy Beef. My friend really likes this dish so he ordered it. It was ok but over-fried (I hate when they do that) and way too salty.
We did not order dessert but ordered an extra set of 3 pieces of chicken satay for dessert.
The bill was:
Evian Water: $10
Ginger Ale (2 X $4): $8 (no free refills
)Laurent Perrier (4 X $30): $120 (my friend had 3 glasses, i had 1)
Prix Fixe (3 X $64): $192
Mr. Chow Noodles: $18
Crispy Beef: $32.50
Chicken Satay (3 X $6.00): $18
This place is an overpriced PF Changs. Minus the champagne, the bill was around $280 which is still about 2.5X more than this meal should have cost. This was a $120 meal at most. None of the dishes were very inspiring, the service was mediocre, and the ambience was ok but nothing great. I won't be going back and it surprises me that anyone could think this is world class Chinese food.
Again, pictures are up at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rvd90277...
I went as part of an expensed meal. There were six of us. Only two of us had alcohol (a total of 3 glasses of white wine). The meal cost $700.
Definitely way overpriced PF Chang's type food. We did get to see a demonstration of hand-pulled noodles which was cool.
I also hated the chicken satay. tasted like thin sliced processed chicken drizzled with mayo. and it was orange.
I'm just glad i didn't have to pay for it.
Your experience might have something to do with the fact that Mr. Chow’s former chef, Sik Chung Lam, is on the lam in Rio. According to Brazilian blog "Made in Brazil" (and I'll never complain about the ads on Chowhound again), he's now the owner of Mr. Lam's in Rio de Janeiro.
I think the food is very flavorful, but the pretense and non-reastraunty upfront help is disconcerting. The waiters are very condescending and seem not to realize that the NY dining experience, especially the banter with waiter and patron, is an interactive/communicative deal.
I've been there a few times (usually when out of town guest who have thier heart set on this place are in town). I've never had a meal that justifies the bill. The food is average Chinese at best, in fact I think I like PF Changs better. The waiters are pushy and annoyed if you try to curb the meal in anyway. The drinks are very overpriced. I would never reccomend that anyone go here...so many better places in nyc to spend your money!!
the portions are pretty small. for the 3 of us, we basically ordered like 6 appetizers (4 orders of the chicken satay (8 pieces) and 2 orders of the shrimp rolls) and like 7 main dishes. We did leave a little bit of food though.
i think if you try to be economical about it, we could have gotten away with a $250 bill (no alcohol, less extra orders of stuff).