Should be 2.5 stars. Our visit to Tang’s was disappointing but also rewarding. We were pleased with Crispy Rice with Chicken and Shrimp soup, a lunch-portion, priced accordingly at $8.97. It was a white-based soup, flavorful and filling. It should be shared if a meal is to follow. An appetizer from the day’s Special, Crispy Beef Dumplings were larger than expected, there was plenty of flavorful filling – not mostly deep fried dough. From the Special menu, the Asparagus, Mushrooms, Chicken and Shrimp, at $19.95, would have been fine had I received what I ordered. What I received did not have shrimp. There was a language problem, as when I asked for green tea, I was told the pot brought to the table was green tea, whereas it was traditional, black oolong tea. I watched, well before my meal came out, as my server, the host and a kitchen worker reviewed the item I ordered – as the server pointed to the Special Menu board for that item. When the meal came out, I was surprised that it was so dark. I had expected a white sauce with white meats like chicken and shrimp. The sauce was exceptionally dark to the point it obscured most of the ingredients except the chicken. There was no shrimp in the meal. I absolutely never send anything back unless I am ending the meal. If I have to send something back, remove it from the bill, I’m done. This time I ate a bit of the meal, which was tasty, but not what I ordered, and not deserving of the price-tag for which I expected shrimp as well. The Emerald Chicken, an attractive dish with a bit of a white sauce, almonds and vegetables tasted as good as it looked. The portions were a little less than expected, but there were no cheap fillers that grossly affect the flavor and value of the dish. So in this case, less truly is more. There were more of the best ingredients without piles of onions and less costly vegetables; which has become standard in so many American-Chinese food take-outs and restaurants. I’d rather pay the fitting price for the proper and flavorful preparation than get twice as much; where the flavor comes from broth bases, onions and soy sauce. So pricing, preparation and portions are all in-line with what they should be.
Once, Tang’s was at the top of their respective game. Now there are communications problems and kitchen problems. The size of Tang’s is fairly intimate, and this is not a buffet. The service was good. The management runs the place restaurant style, with the staff watching your table to take care of your needs. The language barrier is an issue; though our server made great effort, too many things came out wrong. The desserts came out mostly right, but my order, which I clarified with the server, was not what I ordered. What I received was fried vanilla ice cream. I accepted it without registering a complaint. It was doughy and with too much powdered sugar on it. I didn’t like it at all, and only took in enough to taste it. Take out needs to be ordered from the take-out menu. The regular menu doesn’t have portions like pints and quarts, and the pricing is for sit-down service. We ordered standards, and again there was a surprise with the chicken fried rice being exceptionally dark, and the rice was overcooked – not the usual case for American-Chinese cuisine. The pan fried dumplings were large, and very full, but the dough was very thick and sticky, making them too heavy for an appetizer, and distracting from the excellent filling. The egg drop-wonton soup was standard, but enjoyable. Lo Mein was tasty, and again, not filled with the inexpensive filler veggies. There was enough of the meat, just barely, but the Lo Mein noodles were slightly overcooked.
Tang’s has strengths in service and flavor – so important to an enjoyable meal. They’re serving a better cuisine by avoiding the use of cheaper ingredients. For a Friday evening, it was not crowded, and I believe this review reveals why. My suggestions would be to get the language problem cured. This can be done by giving their menu items a number. If there’s a question, the kitchen will know, by the number, what they are preparing. I think that our order problems were not just the server’s. He also had to relay the information to the kitchen. The chef should have known that the special contained shrimp; and that was the most disappointing part of my meal. . Other reviews I’ve seen rave about certain meals and their service – and I agree – these things make a big difference in the experience. My hope is that Tang’s improves by remediating their problems. Their strengths can carry them to the next level, but not until they get all their weaknesses addressed and cured. I will not go back for sit-down, and when ordering take-out, will be very selective. But I will certainly watch the reviews, hoping to see that there is an effort being made and problems being cured. And then, I will go back, and review again.