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In my last blog entry, I wrote about Daikokuya's newest location in Arcadia's President Square Food Court. While I was waiting for and after eating my ramen, I took a peek at the other food stalls in the food court. I decided to make a return visit and settled on tasting the food from two vendors: Hsin Hsin Shau May Deli and Full House BBQ To Go.
Hsin Hsin Shau May Deli is a Chinese version of Panda Express, which may sound funny, but, if you're savvy, orange chicken isn't exactly the national dish of China! Yes, you will struggle a bit with communicating with the staff unless you can speak what they speak (Mandarin or Cantonese, I don't know exactly), but if you're patient, polite, and are good at gesturing, you will end up getting what you want (or what you think you want!). The menu options are recognizable. You can either order from among the pictured entrees above the counter or go with two (3.99 USD), three (4.99 USD), or four (5.99 USD) items from the steam table in front of you. Unsure of what was going on overhead, I decided to pick three items from the steam table.
What I ate: Three items (4.99 USD) - sautéed bok choy with garlic, pork belly with potatoes, and wok-finished chicken. Steamed rice included.
I was hungry and ready to tear into my meal but before doing so, I performed one of my rituals: I inhaled the aromas from the plate to get a sense of what I would be eating. What I smelled was authentically Chinese but, on the other hand, it wasn't very appealing to my personal sense of what's good. Regardless, I dug in anyway.
The meal turned out to be terrible. The bok choy was cold (and I mean really cold!); consequently, the flavor wasn't there. The bok choy wasn't of great quality either and a piece of chopped garlic I tried tasted strange, as if it was prepped carelessly, becoming adulterated in the process. The pork belly - one of my favorite ingredients - had an off-putting flavor to me. Whatever spice or pungent ingredient was added, it brought out an offensive flavor in the meat. The chicken was the only item with decent flavor to it (slightly sweet, salty, aromatic), though, in the end, I was left with the impression that it was too greasy. Even the steamed rice was subpar, which wasn't shocking given the disappointing experience so far.
I would not eat at Hsin Hsin Shau May Deli again. The flavors I tasted just didn't agree with my sensibilities and the quality of the food and cooking was quite low.
The Bill: 5.38 USD
My Rating: No star out of four stars (poor). Open daily for lunch and dinner. Better to use cash than rely on plastic here. Better still, don't spend your money here.
better char siu myself at home.
I would pay for any purchases in cash.
I'd have to say the only place worth eating at in President Square Food Court is Daikokuya. Granted, I haven't tried the Kung Pao House, the Chinese noodle house, the frozen yogurt place, or RJ Patisserie yet but of those four places, only the noodle house looks like it's worth trying. Kung Pao House reminds me too much of Shau May Deli, the froyo stand seems to have ridiculously little variety in terms of froyo flavors and toppings, and I don't think RJ can compare to J.J. Bakery, which is a couple of blocks away.
Last Word: I'd eat at Panda Express over Hsin Hsin Shau May Deli any day.
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