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Oct 14, 2013 12:30 PM

Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me - Worst of the Worst

Chowhounds like to believe that they know all the best places to go - and most of the time they/we do. But every once in a while either we make a mistake, or are dragged against our will to places that are truly awful. I don't like to 'dis' or 'hate' on anyone, but for a few places, they truly have earned bad reviews.

A few months ago I was at Kam(ehameha) Shopping Center in Kalihi with a couple of friends at dinner time. We decided to give Liu's a try - mostly because we happened to be standing right there, the prices for specials were attractive, and we figured - its Chinese, how bad can it be. We found out. Our first clue was the run down appearance - but hey, I used to eat at Tin Tin down in chinatown. The next clue might have been the service. The sign said "please wait to be seated" so we stood there. after a minute or so we cleared our collective throat. the cashier/hostess looked up from her paper and said "what you want?" When we replied "a table" she said "so, go sit down." and went back to her paper. A few minutes later a so-called waitress came by, slammed some water glasses down on the table and tossed menus in our direction. She then disappeared to smoke a cigarette or three (based on the time gone and how she smelled when she decided to return.) We hadn't been able to decide what to order, so two of us got the dinner plate and one got the lunch plate. More time passed. This was 6pm on a thursday night, and there was only one other table with people. In retrospect we decided they must have been related to the place (otherwise why would they have been in there) No one else came in while we were there. When the food did arrive it was as bad as I would expect from some run-down dive in some podunk town in middle America staffed by illegal immigrants who mostly served food from cans rescued from the dumpster behind a dollar store. Even the rice was bad. Gummy, stale, and cold. Everything else seemed to be suspended in a gooey glop that appeared to consist of cornstarch, msg, and lukewarm dishwater. Literally the only way to distinguish between the pot roast pork and the kau yuk was that one was brownish and the other kinda reddish. Not one among us was brave enough - or hungry enough - to eat more than a few bites, mostly to verify that it really was as bad as it looked. We left a single dollar on the table for the three of us, so the waitress didn't think we just plain forgot to tip, paid our bill, and without a word among us spontaneously headed across the parking lot to McD's to get the foul taste out of our mouths. A McDouble never tasted better.

Anyone else willing to fess up to going someplace they should not have?

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  1. Thanks for the report. Reviews, good as well as bad are important resources for CH'rs. Guess I won't be eating there anytime soon.

    1. Wow, what a report! Thanks for the details. McDonald's saves the day!

      1. I'm sure we have all been dragged to places we should have immediately turned and walked out of. Off the top of my head though, I can't remember any of them. I guess they are such bad memories that I made sure to erase them from my memory bank. Some restaurants off the top of my head that my family refuse to return to however include Hinone Mizunone, Nice Day, New Mui Kwai (Liliha), Taiyo Ramen, Ezogiku Ramen, Chinpei Ramen, Dillingham Saimin, Tanaka Saimin.

        6 Replies
        1. re: killersmile

          Nice Day? Was the decision not to go there any more made recently? I haven't been there in over a year, but it was pretty good dim sum/house noodlies 15 months ago.

          1. re: honu2

            We were there (Nice Day aka Bad Day) a month ago for dim sum and it was horrible. Legends has gone south the last year or so.
            We like Tai Pan, Happy Garden & Royal Garden

            1. re: russkar

              Just had lunch at Royal Garden today, the dim sum was very decent. Lucked out, the scallop dumpling, char siu bao and har gow came fresh out of the kitchen and piping hot.

              1. re: russkar

                nice day still has my vote. were there any particular choices you hated? i go for the pork hash, custard, jin doui. everything else i like ok except for their look fun. and i don't usually eat the dumplings with that opaque white wrapper, i find them unsettling, but i feel that way everywhere.

                i also eat at new mui kwai 3, they're ok enough and in my neighborhood, and i find them way better than hoy tin.

              2. re: honu2

                We stopped going sometime last year after repeated bad experiences forced us to give up on it. Too bad as it was good initially and convenient for us.

              3. re: killersmile

                I've had good meals at Nice Day, but I can see that restaurant as hit or miss. They are not the cleanest restaurant and what you order can really make a difference.

              4. Went to Sala's at the recommendation of a CH-er. Should have made a U-turn as soon as we open the door -- loud music and profanities abound. Not only it is a dive bar, the food and service were horrible. Maybe we went there for the food and not for "other" services?

                1. Wow, your review makes me want to include them on our next trip... NOT!

                  Some meals are better than others, and some restaurants are better than others - then there are those, where one wonders "what WERE they thinking, by opening a restaurant?"

                  Hey, it's places like this, that keep Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" on the air!


                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Actually Sala is amazing Thai but most people will never find out.
                    I reserve it at lunch when no one is there for a group of a 10 - 20. The rest is history. Never go for dinner that is a bar crowd not our style...
                    BTW: Thai at LOS in LV is one our faves or Thai Nakorn in Norwalk. Both National noted....
                    Opal's in N. Shore is good and Olay's in Aiea is nice too.

                    1. re: russkar

                      Mahalo Russkar,

                      Have not done LOS in many years, as we always have short trips there. I also miss many of those, as wife only has dinner meetings, and I do not get to pick those. Give me three nights, and things are different. She's heading there for an in-and-out in Nov., but I will not go.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Decent Thai is starting to spread out island wide..aloha

                        1. re: russkar

                          Thai Lao in Kapolei is a MUST ! Try it and you will agree... the place is small, but very nice. White linen table cloth and always always have a vase of fresh flowers on each table. The service is superb.... BYOB!

                          1. re: roro808

                            Mahalo Roro,
                            As soon as I can talk my truck into driving out West we'll make a point to try it. Some of our friends have tried it and liked it already.

                            1. re: russkar

                              Try the deep-fried whole fish with garlic-oil sauce.