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Sep 6, 2008 04:53 PM

Kind of Lame lunch at Mao's Kitchen

I tried Mao's Kitchen on Melrose near Poinsettia today. Not too amazing. The room is a big cavernous rectangle with loud reverberant music. Close to the door is a table with menus and a sign that says to take a menu and seat yourself. The interior is decorated with Mao posters, and what I'm guessing communist propaganda. The menu features items like Peace not war wonton soup, and the Peoples this or that. Not my idea of cute, clever or funny. Should have gone with my gut and just turned around. There was only one other table in there and I sat at one and waited. After a couple songs played, and I noticed the other table craning their necks for service, I was about to walk out when a waitress arrived. One of my rules to live by is if management doesn't care about how its wait staff looks, they probably don't care about other stuff. My waitress had a sloppy post punk look... messy shock colored hair, multiple lip piercings and quasi bondage pants. I ordered a spinach and shrimp roll, one veg. egg roll, pork lo mein and lemon aide. I was brought a bowl of wonton chips and a dipping sauce to snack on. The chips had a greasy mouth feel and the sauce was some sort of brown sticky sweet thing. A drink of water along with the chips made my mouth feel like I'd been snacking on crisco. The lemon aide somehow managed to be both too sweet and to sour at the same time. The spinach shrimp roll was nice, mild and just a bit too greasy. The egg roll looked great but had a leathery texture like grocery store freezer food egg rolls. very bland as well. Both were served with the same sweet brown sauce with an addition of hot mustard.
The lo mein came. Very nice sized portion and looked good, lots of fresh looking veggies and bits of pork. I wish It had flavor. The pork showed no signs of sear, char, and no indication it had been marinated or seasoned in any way. Aside from a few bits of gristle, it had absolutely no character. The dish as a whole was very bland. Adding soy sauce just tasted like, well, soy sauce. I paid and my change came rounded off by 39 cents. I asked why my change had been rounded off and the waitress told me the cashier only has so much change and cant give it to everyone. She brought me two quarters and kind of shrugged it off. I wont be back.

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  1. re: rounding up to avoid giving change

    i had the same thing happen to me at orris; that is why
    i absolutely won't go back there again.

    i often go to mao's kitchen in venice. although the service is rarely attentive, it normally is friendly.

    i really like the dish they call, "Mao's Hometown," and i REALLY like that they never charge for corkage, so it will stay on my regular rotation.

    i agree with you about the chips, and i always tell the wait person not to even put them on my table.

    mao's in venice has NEVER pulled the 'rounding up' stunt with me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: westsidegal

      I had the same rounding thing happen at Kung Pao Bistro a couple nights ago. The waiter returned my change w/o the receipt. It looked wrong and I asked him how much was my bill and where is the rest of my change. I hate that B.S.

    2. How much can they make doing this versus alienating the customer? Do they care?

      My wife has a habit of carrying lots of change and paying to the penny. These folks need a dose of that. And inform the wait-person that the tip is being rounded down the same way.

      Instant Karma!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Akitist

        its happened three times to me in the last few weeks. I'm either tipping way less or not at all when this happens. I haven't bothered talking to management because I'm usually annoyed enough I just want to leave, but think I may from now on.

      2. Keeping money you're not entitled to is petty theft. People get hooked up for "dine n dash" all the time. Restaurants should not be able to do the same thing in reverse.