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Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant - 1211 Taylor St.

Posted by The LunchMen Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I don't say it very often, but there is only one word to describe our experience at Hong Kong last week - Booooooooo.

Here's what happened. Captain Understatement suggested that the Lunchmen call an audible and try a Chinese buffet he heard was good and affordable. Since we have not reviewed any Chinese restaurants on this blog, I hastily, perhaps too hastily, agreed. The Publican and Tex decided to make the trip, despite having some GI concerns about the fare that awaited us.

The air conditioning must have been down at Hong Kong, because it was hot enough to fry a wonton when we entered the restaurant. An industrial fan blowing across the dining area did little to alleviate the discomfort. The buffet itself was affordable - $5.25 is cheap for any uptown location. The good news ends there, however. For instance, I opted for bottled water after scoping out the suspect container with a hand-written sign that read "Water" on it. Those who were less prudent agreed that the water tasted as though it was from a garden hose - not a refreshing reprieve from the restaurant's temperature, to be sure.

The menu items had familiar names, such as "General Tso Chicken," "Sweet and Sour Chicken," "Fried Rice," etc. However, each dish proved to be below the already low bar set for Chinese buffet food. The grub was greasy to the point of being an environmental hazard if thrown out. The safest bet on the buffet was the fried dough with sugar - coincidentally the most difficult dish to mess up.

The service was equally disappointing. Tex could only swallow down one thing on the menu - the eggrolls. After taking a trip or two back to the buffet for a second eggroll and returning to his seat empty-handed, an employee asked whether he wanted anything else. Tex kindly requested that the eggrolls be replenished. Ten minutes later - no eggroll - even though the restaurant had nine people in it. As an aside, one of those nine appeared to be a wild-eyed maniac who was more intent on staring the Lunchmen down with a look that conveyed a blood-lust we rarely encounter at lunch. Spooky.

Tex left Hong Kong completely unsatisfied. He was not the only one.

The Publican decided wanted to wait it out for an eggroll, so I agreed to stay behind with him while Captain Understatement and Tex sauntered back to the office to recover from an overdose of grease and salt. In retrospect, it was a bad decision. Sometimes when a lunch goes this bad, its best just to cut your losses and walk away. Lessen learned.

- Tank

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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.

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