Downhill alert: Mama Lan's
Having heard wonderful things about the crab at Mama Lan's, a Vietnamese restaurant on Gilman in West Berkeley, we decided to forgo Lalime's and go across the street instead. Overall, the experience was extremely disappointing.
Imperial rolls were $5.95 for two TINY pallid rolls with a heavy doughy filling. The much touted garlic noodles were an overcooked, buttery mess with what tasted like jar garlic. The much touted tamarind crab with what the waiter described as an "uncanny sweet and sour taste" was drowned in a sludgy mass of onion gravy with nary a whiff of tamarind.
Service was comical, with our waiter trying way too hard to be overly solicitous, but coming off ridiculous. I was asked twice if I liked the crab, and both times, I replied that the sauce wasn't good. Both times, his response to me was "But you enjoyed it nonetheless, right?" He even asked if we wanted to pack the sauce to take home with us. I was rather dumbfounded, so didn't take this any further.
The bill came to around $52. Money not well spent.
I had similar experience at ML's as well. Wanted the garlic noodle, but the waitress kept asking us to order the shrimp and told us the garlic noodles were no good as she puts it. So, after the third attempted to order the noodles and getting rejected, we gave up and ordered the shirmp. Needless to say the shrimp was not all that, plus paying 6-8 shrimp for $16 at a family style restaurant is just too much. Have not been back since.