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It's so bad... and I love it!

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Just got back from Chung Sing in Ardmore. Terrible food, served somewhere between lukewarm and cold. Place was deserted and the decor/cutlery hasn't changed since the 70's. But you know what? I loved it!

The service was attentive, the tables and napkins were clean, they had lots of non-meat options (a rarity for the 'burbs) and everything was ridiculously cheap*. I prefer it to Sang Kee and most of the places in Chinatown. It's like one of those black and white horror movies, where the acting and script are terrible but they're entertaining regardless. I guess Chung Sing is the Plan Nine From Outer Space of chow.

These places don't get any due on chowhound, someone mentioned the carrot cake at Genuardi's and the coffee at WaWa's but those don't count because they're not 'bad', they're just non-foodie. I wanna know where you go that's bad but you love and visit regardless.

Basically, what's your Chung Sing?

*How ridiculously cheap? Last night I ate at Pure Food and Wine in NYC, where the appetizers cost on average $17. At Chung Sing, $6.50 got me a big bowl of fried breadsticks, soup, a spring roll, chow mein, fried rice and ice cream for dessert. That's pretty ridiculous.

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  1. there was a thread a while back, on 'guilty pleasures' or somethign like that. more dish-specific, i think, rather than restaurant-based. (I chose cheap margaritas from slurpee machines, for instance). i'm curious to see what other people bring up, though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Bob Loblaw

      Two words: Olive Garden.

      1. re: phdfoodie

        Ugh! I can't stand Olive Garden. I'll go to Red Lobster for a shimp feast before I go to Olive Garden... -mJ

    2. i have two friends who are obsessed with the cheesecake factory. that sounds pretty bad to me.

      me personally, i love taco bell. and popeye's, but i am not ashamed of popeye's. :) and on the fast food tip, i love the filet of fish too. :D

      2 Replies
      1. re: mazza3

        Man, I love Popeyes, but I have to limit myself to only those within the city limits of New Orleans. I've had bad experiences with it elsewhere. Plus, it just makes it more special.

        1. re: mazza3

          Nothing better than a filet o fish sandwich on a Friday during Lent for lunch....or any day for that matter. This has been my favorite fast food since I was a little kid! YUM! -mJ

        2. Fried rice from any crappy Chinese takeout place really hits the spot, no matter how bad it is. If it's particularly awful, I'll throw it in a pan and and add more salt and grease (ok and a splash of fish sauce to keep up the chowhound credentials).

          Crown Fried Chicken is a guilty pleasure, but I wouldn't call the food terrible; on the contrary, it is some of the best fried chicken I've had in Phila despite being insanely salty. But there is definitely some shame in hitting it up at 3am after a night out and slamming it down the hatch before passing out.

          4 Replies
          1. re: barryg

            Crown fried chicken is da bomb! The one in center city grabbed me by my nose and pulled me in. I think part of it is the huge turn over so it's fresh, and so is the oil! Also the pieces are actually fryer-sized. I have a >ahem< value oriented friend who always hopes for huge pieces of fried chicken, even big wings but not I.

            1. re: givemecarbs

              Smaller is juicier and better. I love the wings at Crown--crispy, juicy, and flavorful. No hot sauce, but just overall goodness.

              1. re: barryg

                McDonalds once in a while for a hamburger and a small fries. I love those skinny fries out of the little paper bag when they're hot and fresh and crisp with just the right amount of salt....

                1. re: watercress

                  Yeah...I am usually good for one Big Mac a year. And then about 30 minutes after I eat it I remember why I only do it once a year.

          2. I have never been to Chung Sing. I don't like bad Chinese food, but I do like some bad hamburgers. Taco Bell is pretty awesome too. When I were at college, Taco Bell was the cheapest fast food on campus and back then $1 seems like a lot and I would have like three 99cents tacos and put a lot of Taco Bell sauce on it -- because sauce is free :)

            Then I would feel very satisfied and felt like I have given myself a big treat -- again I don't have a lot of extra money in college

            Then, always, my tongue would later feel numb from those funky sauces.

            1. Waffle House...can't beat the greasy hash browns.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Den

                Here is a problem with your answer I consider Waffle House as good. :)

                I would never say "Waffle House is so bad that I love it" :) It is too cool.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Haven't been in awhile but I used to love their pecan waffles.

                  1. re: givemecarbs

                    When I were Georgia for a friend's wedding, I got to have their waffle top with strawberries which was pretty good. Later, I moved to Georgia and went to waffles and they took that off the menu even the waitresses said it is such a pity. From then on, I ordered their little signature meals, here:

                    http://www.wafflehouse.com/pdf_files/...

                    It is a shame. I have never tried the pecan waffles. Next time I visit the South, I need to stop by a waffle house.

                    *Edit*
                    Just looked at their breakfast menu online. Now Waffle House again offers waffles with strawberries. Weird.

              2. those who know call Chung Sing the "chiner" (chinese+diner) and yes, it is that bad. you know it's low when it's a favorite of the high school boys. lots o'food for little money

                1 Reply
                1. re: elmom

                  Church's or Popeye's fried chicken!

                2. And every once in a while, I get a jonesin' for one of those aweful all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets.

                  1. Apparently there is a basement diner in one of the dingy supermarkets in China Town, it sounds pretty perfect for this thread. Now if only I could remember where it is...

                    1. Chun Sing's dumplings are actually pretty good, with a nice vinegar ginger sauce. That said, it hits the mark for your so bad it's good. You can order every chinese cliche, but somehow they work......just not too often

                      1. On any given night, you'll see a wide range of customers at Chung Sing. From college jocks to large families, to native Chinese speakers. They have a large menu that is intended to appease a large audience.

                        If you want authentic options, you need to look for them. For instance, I don't know of any other non-Chinatown restaurant that serves shrimp stuffed eggplant as delicious as Chung Sing. Their Singapore Mai Fun is also comparable to the best Hong Kong Style restaurants of Boston and NYC.

                        You ordered chow mein and fried rice....drunk food at its best...did you really expect your meal to be gourmet or even chow-worthy???

                        And I don't prefer it to Sang Kee. If I want Sang Kee type food, I'd rather drive into Chinatown for the real deal (Shiao Lun Kung or perhaps the original Sang Kee). Sang Kee in Ardmore has become overpriced and the portion sizes are typical of the Mainline. Also, their stuffed eggplant is not as authentic as Chung Sing (i.e. dim sum style).