Chinatown Restaurant Week: Lucky Plaza

Lucky Plaza

81 Chrystie St

So, I was really excited to try out Chinatown Restaurant Week. I did my research: went to the website, checked out restaurants, looked at their menus, etc. And I decided to settle on Lucky Plaza Restaurant. Okay, I’m going to admit something kind of embarrassing: looking at the menu, I thought to myself, Wow, look at all these choices! When I was reading about CRW, all I ever saw was “multi-course meals” (I was told later on that it was typically 3-course meals, and CRW’s site changed it to specify). Really, admitting that is embarrassing. Moving on, however, to this rather uncomfortable experience.

So, my two friends (one Korean, one Chinese) and I walk into the restaurant. And I first thought that perhaps I had gotten the restaurant wrong because it looks exactly like a Chinese take-out place. But I double-checked the restaurant address, and well, yep, it’s Lucky Plaza. The waitress seats us and begins speaking to my Korean friend in Chinese, and when he responds in English, you could almost see her roll her eyes. We ask her if we could see the Chinatown Restaurant Menu. She looks blankly at us. We repeat again with doubt weighing down our words. She then says she has no idea what we’re talking about. So, my other friend asks her about the menu in Chinese. The waitress still has no idea what we’re talking about. My friend is about to show her the sign that is on their door that says they are a proud participant of CRW, but mentions the price, and finally, the waitress knows what we’re talking about. She hands us the menu.

Chinatown Restaurant Week Menu

And so we order. All three of us. From each heading. (Well, the dessert part was difficult because they were out of everything except for the Coconut Tapioca Soup. So I couldn’t even try to figure out what this Double Boiled Egg with Milk business was.) Because, well, I admit, we just didn’t know. In my defense, it’s because of how it was typed up (click image for larger view). No? That doesn’t fly? Oh, all right, fine. The waitress writes down our order. She leaves our table, and we started discussing about the last five minutes and how odd it was. Ah, but she comes back and she starts talking in Chinese to our friend. And she’s explaining to her that we couldn’t order that way. In fact, we could only choose one Appetizer OR Soup, one Entree OR Rice/Noodles, and then one Dessert. Ooooooooh, we say. And the waitress is going on about how we should order from the Lobster for 2 Menu.

Lobster for 2 Menu

We think about it. As we’re mulling over whether or not we should go with the lobster or if we should forge through  the CRW menu. Meanwhile, the waitress is hovering over our table telling us that we would get a better deal if we went with the Lobster for 2 Menu rather than the other menu. Everything is too confusing at this point. We give in and order from the Lobster menu. And do you see that small part in the left bottom corner? Since we had 3 people we thought, oh the other person can order appetizer/soup/white or fried rice. But no! Alas, no, that is not what they were offering for $4. Rather, you could only order ONE of those. Luckily, our waitress charged us only $2.50 for extra fried rice. After she writes down our order, she smiles at us and lets us know how much money we’re saving because we’re getting alllllllll this for only $20.95 but meanwhile we would have ordered something $20 apiece, such a good deal. But…that wasn’t the point.

I generally dislike lobster (something about seeing the red streaks that my overactive imagination conflates them with blood vessels and once I chew on the slimy, fish-y meat, the vessels are bursting in my mouth), but this was pretty good. AKA I didn’t get nauseous as I was eating them.

Peking Pork Chop

WAY SALTY. Listen, I love salt, it’s in my blood, but this was too much.

Spring Rolls

Um, my friend said it was whatever. I didn’t have it, being gluten-free and all. EDIT: My friend just called me out on spring rolls being gluten-free. ALL RIGHT, FINE, I JUST DON’T LIKE SPRING ROLLS. Geez.

Fried Rice

Take-out fried rice. Same exact thing.

Buddha Veggie Delight

This was REFRESHING. Actual restaurant style rather than take-out style.

Ah, and now here comes the best part! We ask for the bill, we pay, and the waitress grabs it, turns around, counts the money, and turns to my Chinese friend and asks where her 15% tip was. I AM FLABBERGASTED. This had never happened to anyyyyyy of us. My friend is rightfully pissed. She whips out her phone, calculates the tip percentage in front of the waitress who stays at our table the entire time, realizes we are $0.44 off, and because we didn’t have exact change, throws down two quarters. We hustle out quickly.

I really wish I hadn’t had such an awful experience for my first time testing out Chinatown Restaurant Week. I still stand behind the concept (in fact, going for Try #2 tonight), but I cannot say that this place could help you change your mind about Chinese food or Chinatown. It’s still the same greasy food that you’ll find when you open a take-out carton. And the service is something I honestly didn’t expect from a participating restaurant, but that one is on me. I hate to say it, but rude service is commonplace in Chinatown, especially for foreigners. They give you a brief look-over, and you can feel the blatant disregard. I try to smile, drop a few Chinese words here and there, and charm my way into better service, and it works most of the time.

Anyway, all I’m saying is: DON’T go to Lucky Plaza Restaurant, but don’t be deterred from eating at any other participating restaurants of Chinatown Restaurant Week. I would love to see this as an annual occurrence or if Chinatown restaurants could be part of the official Restaurant Week. One day, people, one day.