Monday, July 01, 2024

Stupid Yelp Reviews

This image was generated by Adobe Firefly AI with the prompt: "a couple sitting in a restaurant, the woman making a face like something tastes bad". So this isn't exactly what I wanted, but it pretty much sums up how I feel about Yelpers. (The Yelpers are represented by the slop on the plates.)
I don't use Yelp. I feel that many review sites and message boards are populated with people who are either truly mean or truly stupid (I'm looking at you, Next Door). That's not to say that I won't give a place a bad review if it is deserved--I've done so here several times. But if I say something bad about a restaurant or a book or a product I purchased on, it's because the restaurant or book or product was faulty/incorrect/just plain bad. I don't give something one star because the shipping took too long or that parking wasn't available. That fact has no bearing on the product or place at all, and it's not fair to use that as the basis for a review. There's a lot of that on Yelp, and I'm sharing examples of stupid and/or mean low-star reviews here so you know exactly what I'm talking about. Italics are mine.

True Chesapeake

May 5, 2021
1 star
Michael O, an "Elite" Yelper from DC had not even eaten at True Chesapeake when he left this review. Clearly the man didn't understand that: 1) the patio was part of the restaurant; 2) it was damn hard to find people who wanted to work during the pandemic. The restaurant likely couldn't afford to spare a server for outside tables after a particular time. He chose to read minds, make assumptions, and generally feel superior. If he asked, "AITA?" the resounding response would be "Yes!"
We went here on the weekend about 10-15 minutes after 2:30 PM. There were still 3 outdoor tables unoccupied and we approached one of the waiters if we could be seated for beers and oysters. At first, he was willing to seat us but had to check up with supervisor inside. The supervisor informed us that they stopped seating prior to 3pm. According to website, they close at 3pm. Ok no biggie, but we decided to get food from another place at White Hall and returned to the same patio. Once we were settled at one of the patio tables and already eating our food, we were interrupted by one of the Oyster restaurant employees (who was Asian . . were they worried that we didn't speak English . . . Perhaps Unconscious Bias) who told us we couldn't sit there. Note there were two other employees that saw us and didn't bother to tell us to move before we had our food set up already. We reasoned that prior to Oyster place reopening this was not an issue to sit down. Anyhow the employee stood her ground but we were annoyed. There was no signage to say that patio had transitioned to restaurant only. To make matters worst the Asian employee echoed that although they stop seating at 2:30 pm they continue service until 5:00 pm. Note to management: probably unwise to turn people away who want to eat and drink since there were still tables available on patio.
Nov 5, 2022
3 stars
John G. from Baltimore fancies himself the expert on Smith Island cake and because True Chesapeake's version wasn't exactly the same, he dinged the whole meal for it. I've had TC's Smith Island Cake and thought it was great. In fact, I'm disappointed that it's not a permanent part of the dessert menu.
The food was pretty good and the service reasonably attentive. But that's not what I want to talk about. They had a Smith Island cake on the desert menu. It didn't taste right, and the texture wasn't right, so I asked our server, and she confirmed that they have someone come in and make it for them. It was disappointing for us, but an insult to Smith Island, and for a restaurant that calls itself True Chesapeake, a slap in the face to the Chesapeake.

Feb 19, 2018
2 stars
Lia A. from Lutherville-Timonium, MD probably spends too much time watching the Food Network and playing on Instagram if she's so concerned that the actual, real, honest-to-dog Chef at Cosima isn't a "foodie chef." What even is a "foodie chef?" I think that Lia A. is one of those "foodies" who makes the word an insult. She's a person who has a little bit of knowledge about the subject, which makes her dangerous, but not correct. 
Definitely wouldn't go back. Neither would anyone at my table of four. Ambiance, wait staff, hostess, building and drinks are all great (the atmosphere is very cool) but the food is pretty bad if you're a real foodie. There is zero refinement to the dishes. The arancini balls were terrible - nothing like you'd find in Italy or at a good Italian place. The pizza was fine but not preferred over most of the pizza places nearby. The main course was muddled and over seasoned and we picked at it. These prices are crazy for food worse than a chain macaroni grill! The food quality, style, preparation and taste are well below the atmosphere. They squirted chocolate sauce that tasted only a little better than cheap Hershey sauce all over my cannoli. No foodie chef would do that. We paid so much for that food too. Why treat a cannoli like a Dunkin' donut? No refinement. None.
Kung Fu 12

Nov 4, 2023
1 star
I have one thing to say to Towanda M. from Philadelphia, PA. KUNG FU 12 IS A CHINESE RESTAURANT, SO WHY DID YOU ORDER THAI FOOD? 
The food lacks favor and is plain. I had the pad Thai, the noodles were over cook without any other ingredients than chicken.Thai basil chicken did not have any sauce or fresh basil. This was huge disappointment .
Apr 5, 2022
2 stars
Hey, Claudia C. Elite 24 from Essex, MD, if you don't like authentic Sichuan food, why did you go all the way to Towson for lunch? Do any Chinese restaurant menus list every vegetable that appears in every dish? KF12 doesn't offer wonton soup for their lunches because they don't offer a small sized portion of wonton soup at all. Nobody was stopping her from ordering plain chicken with vegetables, which is listed on the regular menu. Just because it's lunchtime it doesn't mean you have to order from the lunch specials. In all honesty, there was absolutely no reason for Claudia to leave a review at all because what she did say seemed more vengeful than something that might help future diners.
We visited this place new to us today upon the recommendation of a friend, he said it was excellent. So we took him at his word and went to try it out.
Now to the food....these were lunch specials. my husband had the Pineapple with pepper/beef ($11.95), I had the General Tso's chicken($9.50). Both were served with white rice. You have a choice of ONLY hot and sour soup or egg drop soup and a spring roll with the lunch special (I am wondering where's the standard wonton soup?) No such luck! I asked for it and the server said no.That was disappointing.
Both came out at the same time and the presentation was beautiful. The beef and green peppers and pineapple was too spicy, it is not indicated on the menu. The General Tso's was very spicy, almost to the point of clearing your sinuses.
The lunch menu does not describe what is in each dish, such as vegetables and what kind of vegetables, you have to ask, and that got tedious real fast. Actually what I wanted was some chicken with mixed vege's, again no such luck.
A pot of tea is included with the meal, you have to request it. It had a smokey taste to it.
Their food appears to be geared more toward the hardcore Chinese food rather than the Americanized Chinese food we are used to. I say this because of the menu selections that are other than lunch specials.
Portions are right on target, not too much and not too little, prices are a bit on the high side for the main menu.
Probably won't be back.
Red Pepper Sichuan Bistro

Dec 31, 2022
1 star
Ty F., from Towson, MD is a moron. This is a Yelp review for Red Pepper Sichuan Bistro, not GrubHub. If you have a problem with the restaurant, you should talk about the restaurant, not the delivery service. I'm pretty sure you can't be allergic to fried foods. However, if you think you are, then why order a dish that is fried? My brother's allergic to peanuts, but he's not stupid enough to order kung pao chicken and request that the peanuts be left out. The menu at Red Pepper is huge--order something else? Also, did Ty F actually threaten a GrubHub employee? What a loser.
The fact that the restaurant sent fried chicken instead of steamed chicken despite our request, because my SO is allergic to fried food is the least of my complaints.

We got the delivery from DoorDash, because the GrubHub website was not working properly. When I hit the submit button on THREE SEPARATE TRIES, the page said something was wrong, try again. I bailed and used DoorDash. That worked.

As I'm finishing up I notice an email from Yelp/GrubHub that my order (Order #483221171916533) went through. I call GrubHub and explain that their web site is broken and we bailed and we never saw a sign that the purchase went through. I told the person on the phone to cancel the order. He said it was too late to cancel. I told him that was the wrong answer. I told him this was their web site making an error THREE TIMES and if he didn't cancel it, things would not go well for him.

I hung up, called my credit card company and put a stop on the purchase. They said the transaction was still pending, but I could stop it, if Yelp/Grubhub decided to be foolish and posted it.

PS: Apple's HEIC picture format has been around for over a year. Please tell your web people to also change the site so those files don't need to be converted to .jpg or .jpeg first.
Nov 21, 2019
1 star
Mac N Mj M. of Las Vegas, NV is another moron. Why give Red Pepper the low rating if you're mad at GrubHub?
Couldn't tell you how the food was, driver was rude, the address was off by 4 numbers, yep my fault, he trashed my food, His words not mine. Not a slam on Red Pepper, was looking forward to the food. More a slam on Grub Hub.
Nov 17, 2022
1 star
Red Pepper had the misfortune of having Thomas B. of MD, MD as a guest on my birthday. He is clearly a moron. Red Pepper's menu is quite large and yes, they offer mostly more traditional dishes. Thomas B. might enjoy Szechuan House more because they seem to cater to white people with no tastebuds.
Don't waste your time or money here. They have a very small menu, and I understand that 90% of the dishes on the menu are traditional Chinese dishes with that said the service is subpar at best the food is bland and without flavor. I had a chicken dish and my wife a beef dish but were really bad. The only bright spot here was my 15 year olds orange chicken. If you want good Chinese food go to Joey chens in Green spring station.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Throwback Thursday: Guan Fu

This post originally appeared on on July 30, 2018.

I can't believe the amount of food that I consume when I'm with my friend Daisy. It's as if I sprout a second stomach to hold it all. I liked this place a lot, so of course it closed. :( 

I have always loved Chinese food and can still remember the taste of my very first shrimp in black bean sauce. I was on a "date" with my Dad. My mother had shooed us out of the house so she could have some quiet time with my newly-born baby brother; this makes me about 5 at the time. I had already eaten plenty of American-style Chinese food by that age, but the piquancy of the fermented black beans was a new flavor to me. And I liked it.

Sichuan food appeared on my table sometime in the late 70s, and though may palate was not yet accustomed to heat, I appreciated that the flavors and ingredients used were a bit different from the usual celery, onions, and starchy sauces used in familiar dishes like moo goo gai pan and chow mein. Though the Sichuan and Hunan dishes I ate in my youth were quite different from the ones I ate as a small child, they were still fairly Americanized.

In 2018, there doesn't seem to be as many Chinese restaurants in Baltimore as there used to be. Certainly no good ones (I am sure someone will be happy to argue that point). I've had a hard time finding even mediocre food in my neck of the woods. Thankfully, there is some really good Chinese food to be had outside of Baltimore. I've spoken here many times of my love for Grace Garden in Odenton, and for Hunan Taste in Catonsville. Asian Court in Ellicott City is my place for dim sum. And of course there are plenty of places in Montgomery County, which is a bit of a hike. Chinese food has gone from being a regular weeknight meal to something for a special occasion, but that makes me appreciate it all the more.

New Yorkers, however, don't have to struggle to find really fine Chinese food from many different regions of that vast country. There's a Michelin-starred Sichuan restaurant in Midtown, for god's sake, not to mention the five locations of Xi'am Famous Foods! Flushing, Queens, a half hour subway ride from Midtown, is rife with Chinese restaurants, which made it a bucket list destination for me.

My friend Daisy knew I wanted to eat good Chinese food when I was in NY, so she took me to Guan Fu, in Flushing. The New York Times gave it three stars, which normally doesn't happen to non-European ethnic restaurants. It had to be good, right?

And it was.

The restaurant is full of dark wood, with large tables to hold ample feasts. There are also comfortable wide chairs--which easily accommodate ample posteriors, like mine. The menu has photographs of every dish, which is nice, but only makes one's choice more difficult. Everything looks great.

Daisy had eaten at Guan Fu before, and had tasted a good deal of the menu. I was happy to let her decide what we would eat. Or over-eat, as the case may be. We ordered five dishes, and did a pretty good job of finishing almost everything. It helped that only two of the dishes contained meat, and only one as the star of the dish, but none of them were small.

Dishes were served family-style, arriving at the table in the order in which the kitchen finished preparing them. The bean jelly noodle salad is served cold, so that came to the table quickly. It was spicy yet refreshing, the gelatinous texture of the noodles holding a chill quite well--much appreciated on a day that had reached 98°F.

The Guan Fu style fried yolk corn was perhaps the most intriguing and unfamiliar dish. It was also the largest. The giant plate contained a mountain of fried corn kernels dusted in dried egg yolk; they were both sweet and salty, with a crisp-tender texture that made them a perfect snack. Except eating this dish was slow going, as chopsticks made it difficult to pick up more than one kernel at a time.

Speaking of chopsticks, Guan Fu has a novel approach to them. Rather than using coarse wooden disposable chopsticks, or plastic ones that require washing, they use chopstick handles with replaceable wooden tips. The tips come in little paper packages, which the diner removes before screwing the tips into place. This way they use much less wood and paper than traditional disposable sticks, and there's no doubt that the tips are sanitary.

We also ordered Chinese black fungus in Guan Fu sauce, a quite spicy (three chile peppers, according to the menu) dish of snappy-textured mushrooms (also called wood ears, commonly used in moo shu preparations) with raw onion and chiles in a clear, ginger-forward, sauce.

Our lone meat dish was a stir fry of chicken with Sichuan prickly ash. Prickly ash is a member of the citrus family, which explains why Sichuan peppercorns--which are actually buds--are somewhat lemony in flavor. Oh, and they have a numbing quality, too, with which those who have tried them are familiar. The combination of Sichuan pepper numbing and chile pepper heat is known as ma la, and this chicken dish was loaded with it--but not in an uncomfortable way. There were also bits of crispy potato and even crispier lotus root in the dish, which added some textural contrast.

My favorite dish was the dumplings, which, oddly enough, appeared in the dessert section of the menu. I have been looking for a dish of dumplings in hot chile oil like the one served at a place called Szechuan Best, in Randallstown. We went there semi-regularly in the 80s, and I had to get the dumplings every time. The sauce was hot and oily and redolent of five spice. I think. It's been a long time, but I would know the flavor if I tasted it again. The dumplings at Guan Fu were not the same, though the delicate wrappers filled with pork seemed somewhat similar. The sauce, however, was its own thing. No five spice, and actually quite mild to my palate, but eminently slurpable. Now that I think back on it, I can understand how their relative mildness (only two chile peppers) might be a relief after eating an otherwise highly-spiced meal.

Overall, I liked Guan Fu. I think it's on par with Grace Garden and Hunan Taste, and I'm happy to have been able to compare them so favorably. However, each restaurant has its own personality. I'd definitely like to go back to Guan Fu and get to know it better.

Guan Fu
39-16 Prince St g01
Flushing, NY 11354

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Wednesday, June 05, 2024

A Pet Peeve

generated with Adobe Firefly AI
This may be my briefest post ever.
It's BELGIAN waffle/chocolate/whatever, not BELGIUM, dumbasses. Ya don't eat CHINA or MEXICO food, you eat CHINESE or MEXICAN food. BelgiUM is the country. BelgiAN refers to things that come from Belgium.


* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Throwback Thursday: New Designs at Redbubble

This post originally appeared on on March 21, 2018.

Hey! My Redbubble store is still up and running, and has a lot more cool designs than just the ones linked below. I did pretty well selling masks during the pandemic, but these prints also look great on shower curtains and fleece blankets. Please check them out!
Not only do I write about food and take photos of food, I use those photos to create fabric designs. The four below are some of my latest designs and can be found on everything from travel mugs to duvet covers and more. I particularly like them on scarves, tote bags, and sofa pillows.

Check out the links below every photo to see my whole line, sold by

Good Morning


Little Italy

Taco Tuesday

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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