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Vong -- HORRIBLE experience!

t
toum Jan 6, 2008 08:22 AM

Went to Vong last night for a special dinner, and pulled no stops on cost. Got several courses and all sorts of different dishes and they all were bad, without an exception. The worst was the Salmon dish. Wow, that was some of the blandest and uninspired food I've ever tasted.

The desserts were great, though. But still, overall, it was a deeply disappointing dinner. I was shocked that this place is associated with Jean-Georges and also that it has a Michelin Star. I felt cheated and regretted that I had chosen it to celebrate a special occasion.

Am I missing something?!

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  1. financialdistrictresident RE: toum Jan 6, 2008 08:49 AM

    Thanks for the report. I have not been to Vong in years (I used to work nearby). Can you provide more detail/specifics about what dishes did not work beyond salmon was bland? How was the service? I have been toying with returning to some old favorites like USC and Vong and would love more information.

    5 Replies
    1. re: financialdistrictresident
      t
      toum RE: financialdistrictresident Jan 6, 2008 10:37 AM

      The service is great. No problems on that front at all. It was just the food that disappointed me.

      Here are more details re the food:

      The raw tuna appetizer roll did not work -- it too was plain, and there was something off about the texture of the stuff it was wrapped in (way too weak). It came with dipping sauce, which held out the promise of remedying the inherent blandness, and the sauce was tasty enough in its own right, but didnt really go with the tuna. There was a taste in it -- I think vineger, am not sure -- that clashed with the tuna.

      The other dish I tried was the mushroom and artichoke carpaccio. This was an interesting dish conceptually, but it just didnt taste good to me, and I love mushroom and artichokes. It was under-seasoned to my taste.

      A more specific statement of my problem with the salmon is that the dish came bombarded with the taste of pumpkin. That was the really the only taste that came through the entire dish. The menu, incidentlaly, does not really lead one to expect that pumpkin will dominate the dish, as the menu, as I recall, merely says that the dish is prepared with "fall vegetables" -- never even mentioning pumpkin by name, and suggesting that there would be more than one vegetable!

      Those were the only non-sweet dishes I tried. (The sweets were awesome, truly.)

      1. re: toum
        financialdistrictresident RE: toum Jan 7, 2008 06:09 AM

        toum, thanks for the additional information and insights.

        I still remember the vanilla and black pepper ice cream (or something like that) that I had there.

      2. re: financialdistrictresident
        MMRuth RE: financialdistrictresident Jan 6, 2008 12:21 PM

        I haven't been for years either - don't see much discussion about the place on the boards. I put no trust in the Michelin ratings and in fact put last year's guide in the trash yesterday (needless to say, I didn't buy this year's).

        1. re: MMRuth
          t
          thegreekone RE: MMRuth Jan 6, 2008 01:54 PM

          I was just thinking that I couldn't remember the last time I read something about Vong. Don't even ask about last time I read anything positive, my memory is just not that good anymore. It is rare to see someone spread so thin and keep a place top notch for so long. I have no gripes with J-G, everyone knows how I feel about Perry Street and Jean-Georges.

          1. re: thegreekone
            t
            toum RE: thegreekone Jan 6, 2008 03:32 PM

            Both of those restaurants are excellent, I totally agree.

      3. Miss Needle RE: toum Jan 6, 2008 08:57 AM

        I haven't been there in years either, but I never liked it. I agree that I thought it was pretty uninspired.

        1. t
          theskyflyer RE: toum Jan 7, 2008 02:43 AM

          My post on VONG last year.
          It is MUST TO AVOID, in my book.

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/420852

          1. g
            G3B RE: toum Jan 7, 2008 03:58 AM

            I have not been to Vong in years either. What I do remember was a very spicy dinner, beautiful room with lots of orchids and a very uninspiring dessert menu; so much so that we skipped it and went elsewhere for dessert.

            1. jfood RE: toum Jan 7, 2008 06:40 AM

              T

              Unfotunately no surprise to jfood since he placed on the DNR list last March. Here is jfood's disappointing review.

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/386215

              1. s
                sugartoof RE: toum Jan 7, 2008 12:09 PM

                Vong is awful.

                Jarred sauce, and the novelty of a big giant bowl with noodles and beef strips.
                How cutting edge.

                1. g
                  ginsbera RE: toum Jan 8, 2008 10:06 AM

                  I second that. I went to Vong over a year ago for lunch expecting to be wowed...I could have had the same if not better food at any mediocre Thai restaurant in the city. Nice decor and ambiance, but the food was lacking from course 1 through 3. Vong had a long run, but it may be the end.

                  1. ny.foodie RE: toum Jan 12, 2008 03:28 PM

                    I was there on Memorial Day Weekend last year. I had the Foie Gras with Mango/Ginger (fav dish) and the Lobster with Thai Sauce. I loved it! It isn't a strict Thai place. So if you are expecting pure Thai...its not happening.

                    Does anyone know if the Chef De Cuisine Pierre Shutz is still running the kitchen. He has been there for some 14 years and if he had moved on...this could be part of the problem...?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ny.foodie
                      t
                      timNYC RE: ny.foodie Jan 13, 2008 07:31 AM

                      I haven't been to Vong in years, and would agree with several posters who report they haven't read anything about it in years. I had an out-of-towner tell me they made a reservation there last year and I gently guided them away from it. I didn't have any particular reason, but now I'm really glad I did.

                    2. c
                      carfreeinla RE: toum Jan 13, 2008 09:11 AM

                      I have been to Vong's once- a vip client had selected it. I have celiac disease so I can't eat wheat ( soy sauce) or anything wih gluten in it. In all my years, I have never been refused service at a restaurant anywhere in the world- I was at Vongs. They wouldn't even serve me a tossed salad. So, while I can't comment on the food, I can on the shortsighted policy.

                      1. p
                        pobo RE: toum Jan 13, 2008 01:39 PM

                        I am disappointed to hear about such awful experiences at Vong. Mr. Pobo and I went there for dinner just before Christmas with his out of town cousins. We all had the $25.00 prix fix and were very pleased with our meals and the value. However, I would not longer describe Vong as a really special restaurant, but suits if you're looking for different kind of place at moderate cost.

                        1. the queen RE: toum Jan 14, 2008 04:35 PM

                          This is nothing new, it's always been a loser

                          1. the queen RE: toum Feb 8, 2008 08:50 AM

                            You'll find the most rude and snotty waiters here. Typical snob types.

                            1. FoodWine RE: toum Feb 18, 2008 08:49 AM

                              We, a group of 3 people, had a delightful dinner at Vong last June.

                              The food was very tasty; yes it was mostly mild, but that did not make it boring or bland. On the contrary, it actually had lots of interesting flavors. A slight disappointment, at first, was the lobster dish; instead of the classy presentation of it in the "old days", it did not look so elegant anymore. The portion with its sides was huge (it looked sort of like a diner-style portion), and some of the flavors were almost too strong. But our guest, who had ordered it, liked it anyway. Not as good as their "old" lobster dish, but good.

                              The whole experience was quite pleasant. We were seated promptly, our waiter was very friendly and efficient. Actually, he got inspired by our wine orders, and came back just to tell us about a few other fabulous wines they had in the same style and price range. I had forgotten my reading glasses, so he, in a good humoured way, presented me with a tray of glasses and then told me I could keep the ones I had chosen. The timing of the dishes coming out of the kitchen worked really well, too. We enjoyed every dish.

                              Having said all that, I noticed that a couple that got seated a bit later than we did, probably had a totally different experience. I do not know if they enjoyed their food, but they had to wait for everything for a really long time. It seemed to me that it took forever before anyone even acknowledged that they were there, after they sat down. It took way too long before their waiter (not the same one we had) bothered to come over to take their order. He seemed much less inspired than our waiter was. This couple did not seem too happy with any of it - and I cannot blame them.

                              But because we had had such a nice time there, a few weeks later my daughter and I decided to go to Vong for lunch. Everything was efficient, a bit too efficient (although I know that if I had been there for business lunch, that pace would have been more than perfect for me), but this time the food seemed less inspired and more like a lunch menu made for the masses.
                              Just a few months later we had lunch at Tao, and while I know that some posters on Chowhound dismiss Tao, we actually really enjoyed that lunch. The food, the service and the "vibe" was better than at Vong during lunch.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: FoodWine
                                the queen RE: FoodWine Feb 18, 2008 10:06 AM

                                I agree, I think that Tao has improved while Vong has gone South

                                1. re: the queen
                                  FoodWine RE: the queen Feb 18, 2008 10:14 AM

                                  Our dinner at Vong was very good. Only the lunch was not so good.

                                  1. re: FoodWine
                                    the queen RE: FoodWine Feb 19, 2008 06:28 AM

                                    I never had any problems with the food, but the service is another thing.

                                    1. re: the queen
                                      FoodWine RE: the queen Feb 19, 2008 07:47 AM

                                      Our dinner service was excellent.
                                      Our lunch service was friendly, but the pace was fast - which they probably do because of the location: lots of business people, who need to be in and out in a nanosecond. The lunch time food was what we were not impressed by. Not bad, but lacking.

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