Review: Ling & Louie’s
After months of waiting for this seemingly delicious Asian restaurant to open, I finally got the chance to break away from the office and try it out for a 12:00 lunch. I was so happy that there was now an Asian food establishment near my office. Delicious lunches available at last! The sign on the building read “Miso excited,” and truly I was.
The lunch hour crowd was horrendous, so the only table available was in the bar. Annoying, but I can’t really slash them for that. But this did serve to drop my excitement level a bit. Then I was shown the menu. It was printed on a single piece of paper that looked more like a child’s coloring placemat then a menu. Another notch lower.
As I read the menu and saw all the typical American “trendy” Asian dishes, and the section in the middle with meatloaf, sliders, and sizzling platters, my lip curled and I was ready to leave. But a few dishes stood out to me: Firecracker Chicken with Broccoli; Orange Peel Chicken; Buddha’s Feast with Chicken; Mongolian Beef; and Evil Jungle Princess Beef, which I eventually ordered. The menu stated this was their signature dish, “the dish that made Ling famous! Tender marinated filet mignon wok’d with fresh vegetables, Thai basil, and mint in Ling’s signature peanut‐red curry sauce.” Sounded great and was priced at $12.95, which was more or less their average priced item.
The annoyance reached another low though as I listened to hard rock from their sound system and waited 25 minutes for my food. I guess it did give me a chance to admire their décor with open wood beams, a glass water wall, and nice warm rust red paint. But 25 minutes for a lunch crowd is definitely way too long. I did have a conference call at 1:00 after all.
My dish finally arrived and I was greeted not with the smell of delicious pungent Asian ingredients, but rather the stink of something burnt. I love wok charred food, but there’s a significant difference between charred and burnt, and this smell was definitely burnt. The first thing in my mouth was a green bean and some jasmine rice. Fine. Then the beef. It was very tender and moist, and was covered with their signature peanut‐red curry sauce.
Yah… let me tell you about this curry sauce. It was basically just coconut milk with sugar and a couple of red chilies thrown in for heat. No ginger, no galangal, no herbs, no good. The only peanut flavor came from the chopped peanuts sprinkled all over the top of the dish. I was further disappointed by the complete lack of Thai basil or mint flavor. If you’re going to highlight something in the menu description, you damn well ought to be able to taste it. I think I only saw maybe 4 or 5 green leaf pieces in my entire serving.
I wasn’t finding that burnt flavor anywhere, but was still smelling it. Then as I got about half way through the meal, I discovered it. It was on the beef, and was clearly burnt sweet soy sauce. I’ve never experienced this at any Asian restaurant or hawker stall or family kitchen in my life. How do their chefs not know to char and mostly cook the meat BEFORE adding the sauce? Isn’t this basic wok cooking 101?
The dish was OK, and perhaps would be delicious to someone that doesn’t know better, but for me, I will never order this again. I will give Ling and Louie’s another chance, trying one of the other dishes that caught my eye, but this initial experience made me completely unhappy and a little ticked off.