Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NHA Trang

Date: January 20, 2010
Time: Approx. 12:15pm
Location: Lincoln, NE
Restaurant: NHA Trang Vietnamese and Chinese Cuisine
Overall Rating: 2.5

Egg Roll: 1
Food Quality: 2.5
Price: 5
Service: 4
Atmosphere: 3

On January 20th we made another work group outing to NHA Trang on 11th and L Streets. At lunch time, this restaurant has a small buffet with not a wide selection, but all the typical favorites are included. Both steamed and fried rice were options. The Fried Rice was very dry and I don’t think it was because we were there at a bad time. It was prime lunch hour. The Cashew Chicken only had carrots and celery for vegetables. The flavor was average – not too much flavor, but also not enough. Disappointing. The Pork Egg Roll was dry, cold, small with a thin wrap, cabbage and a little pepper, which wasn’t too noticeable. Needless to say, it was not good at all. The Vegetable Egg Roll was about the same – small, thin wrap and not much flavor. I felt like it could use something else to give it some kick. At least it wasn’t dry!

The Crab Rangoon had a thick shell, was medium in size and was pretty much exactly what’d you expect. Nothing special. The Egg Drop Soup was very good! I’d say the best I’ve had so far in Lincoln. It had a salty flavor, carrots, peas and noodles, which I have never seen before in this soup. When I tried the Sesame Chicken the breading was soggy, not crunchy like it should be, like it had been sitting there a while. If you go for anything “sesame” at this restaurant, go for the Sesame Shrimp. I’ve never seen this dish before. It was awesome! The breading was crunchy and the sauce was delicious. The Vegetable Lo Mein had shreds of carrot, celery and onions. I love onions, but this had too many. The noodles were smaller than what I usually see. It had a light sauce that was good when it wasn’t masked by onion. When I came to the Twice Cooked Pork, I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like it, but this was the best thing I had on the buffet! The pork was tender and it had big zucchini, mushroom, and onion pieces. The sauce was packed with flavor! The Teriyaki Chicken on a stick had a savory flavor with plenty of sauce. Usually this item doesn’t come with any extra sauce, just teriyaki marinaded chicken. The chicken was slightly dry, but not choke-worthy. Ok…the Chicken in Special Sauce. When I picked this out, it looked like small chicken wings and thighs. Yum, right? However when I bit into the piece I picked up, it looked like I was eating the spine of the chicken, which almost made me gag. The sauce tasted like a spicy teriyaki, which was good, but I couldn’t eat it after seeing it. I’m gagging right now.

The background music was odd and too loud where we were sitting, but upbeat. The atmosphere had a casual Asian theme with Chinese light fixtures and pictures on the wall. In the back room where we were sitting, there were big round tables for large groups, which was nice because we were able to face people instead of looking down a long table. The restaurant was very clean from what I could tell.

The service was great! All people were very friendly. Plates were promptly removed and water refilled before asking. When I was up for my second trip, our waitress was refilling the rice and asked, with a big smile, if everything was good. She then said thank you when I complimented the food.

The price was right-on for the lesser selection and average food quality, $5.50 for the lunch buffet. From what I could tell it was all Chinese food on the buffet. I’d be interested in ordering off the menu and trying some of the Vietnamese cuisine. Perhaps that would raise their score a little!

Fortune: “A carrot a day, may keep cancer away.” A rather bleak end to our lunch after gorging myself with food and not eating one single carrot that day!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Great China Buffet

Date: January 8, 2010
Time: Approx. 11:45am
Location: Lincoln, NE
Restaurant: Great China Buffet
Overall Rating: 3

Egg Roll:
Food Quality: 3.5
Price: 3.5
Atmosphere: 3.5
Service: 3

For my first Chinese food adventure of the year, I went to lunch with co-workers at the Great China Buffet, across from Gateway Mall on O Street. Every once in a while we have to remind ourselves why it is not a good idea to eat at a buffet for lunch: Food Coma = Nap at Desk = Low Productivity. This was our first reminder of the year. I think I’ll be good until at least February.

Needless to say, with this being a buffet I stuffed a lot of variety into the visit and if you are looking for variety, this is the place to go! They have Chinese and American food, including a salad bar and sushi! I’ll start from the beginning. Don’t waste your time on the Spicy Chicken, unless you don’t like spice at all. The name is deceiving and it needed more flavor. The Vegetable Lo Mien is always a good safety dish, an American favorite. It’s hard to mess this one up and I’d say theirs was right on par. The General Tao’s Chicken was excellent! Just the right amount of breading and flavor, not too spicy (and I'm a spice wuss). The Egg Drop Soup had green onions. It was about average, nothing surprising. The Pork Egg Roll was very disappointing. It tasted so processed that I couldn’t even cover the taste all that much with soy sauce. Since we’re going that direction, the Cashew Chicken was heartbreaking too. It had no flavor and only carrots and celery as vegetables. My two favorite dishes were real downers. Last item on the first round, the Pepper Shrimp was mild, yet interesting. It was lightly breaded with just a hint of pepper. Very nice.

Round two showed a bit more promise. The Spring Roll was the saving grace for the “roll” family. It had a thin wrap filled with cabbage. Small but delicious. The Crab Rangoon was awesome with a light outer shell and plenty of flavorful stuffing. It was almost small enough to be bite sized, which is not common in American Chinese restaurants (or any American restaurant). The Sesame Chicken was just as to be expected. Sweet and tasty! Lastly, the Sushi. I tried four different pieces. I swear one was stuffed with just shredded cheese and sour cream. How much more American can you get than that! None were un-edible, but none had that much flavor either. Tasted like I was just dipping sticky rice in soy sauce.

For the lunch buffet, the price was $7, including tax and a refillable drink. Not bad considering how much variety they have and the fact that you can eat as much as you want. With it being a buffet, the service is hard to judge. They were prompt in clearing our plates and that’s about all we had for service. The atmosphere is pleasant - soft music in the background, plenty of light from large windows, an ample amount of Chinese d├ęcor, and from what I could tell it was very clean. A good choice if you’re looking to overstuff at lunch in a hurry!

Fortune: “Your love light shines on another”.