I returned to AnQi after a dismal first visit because I had heard from some people that they had a great experience there. In fact, I was invited to join them for that visit — a visit which was supposed to be comped by AnQi — where the purpose was to give them honest feedback of the AnQi experience from start to finish.
So after a list of people were gathered for this event, their names were presented to AnQi for review purposes and upon seeing my name on the list, they became apprehensive because after all, I had already given them a 1 star review on http://www.yelp.com and with that already standing AnQi felt it was ‘not in the interest of this particular assignment’ for me to attend so to speak and hence, I was DIS-invited. I actually chuckled when I heard that because at that moment I realized that by doing so, they compromised their integrity about really wanting HONEST feedback.
After a few days they changed their mind and re-invited me, but this time, I received a guideline for the visit, and among those listed (and I’m para-phrasing here) these two were the most disturbing to me: firstly not to review on http://www.yelp.com if the review was to be under 4 stars and secondly, if we were to review AnQi, please refrain from mentioning that we received gift certificates for the purpose of this visit
I immediately declined the offer to attend because I felt that not only was this against everything I stood for, but I don’t like people telling me what to do when it comes to writing a review! I did this for a living and as food writers/critics, the thing that we pride ourselves in is our integrity and the suggestion that we can somehow be ‘bought’ or ‘bribed’ in any form or manner is BEYOND offensive!
Half of the restaurant was empty when we arrived were told there would be a 10-15 mins wait. But what was even stranger was they insisted on getting a name, I said we don’t have a reservation — but like vultures, they kept insisting it was for their system. Why do they need your name for the system?
We took a few minutes to admired the decor, however, the admiration we had for AnQi basically ended there. When the menus were presented, it took us a long time to decide because frankly, nothing jumped out at us. Everything seemed contrived and just like on my first and only visit, I felt they were trying WAY too hard.
We eventually decided on a few items just to get an idea because we didn’t want to order too much and be left with food we weren’t happy with — we could always order more later. Although it was difficult for us to agree on what to order, one thing was certain, the garlic noodles — their signature dish — was something we wanted to try again.
On our first visit, the garlic noodles were a mushy mess. We wanted to give it another shot just to make sure it wasn’t a bad night the first time around. We also ordered the filet mignon summer rolls as well as the white fish dumplings.
Garlic noodles — sadly were the exact same doughy, mushy disgusting mess as the first time. They get it right at Thanh Long (the An family’s original restaurant in San Francisco’s Sunset District), what the hell is happening here that they come out so incredibly wrong? And for $10!! Probably cost them 50 cents (if that) to make. For a side order of noodles at $10 means I’d expect a food orgasm to explode in my mouth as soon as I put them in!!! This was just unacceptable fare at $10 a pop!
White fish dumplings — filling was mushy and texturally very unpalatable. Although I wasn’t fond of the sauce, I didn’t hate it like my friend did. This was the worse dish of all and we actually couldn’t even finish it. I have no idea why they would put the sauce all over the dumplings when typically, sauce for dumplings are served along side for the purpose of dipping. This allows you to control how little or how much you want. All I can think of is the arrogance and audacity of AnQi to basically give you the plate and tell you “this is what you’re getting and this is how you will eat it” — SHEER and UTTER arrogance!
Filet mignon summer rolls — these actually weren’t bad. They had a nice taste — a little too much aioli/mayo on top — but other than that they were pleasant and these, I would eat again!
Neither of us felt compelled to order something else after that and all the while we were debating where we could go to make up for this very unsatisfactory meal and that’s when the check arrived. Three items all tapas-sized — tax and tip included $32.
Service was good, I’ll give them that…….. but in terms of food, my 1 star on http://www.yelp.com remain …….. I like good food and I’m willing to pay for it, but at AnQi, the food is hardly worth the price you’re paying and at the end of the day, your palate will slap you if it could for putting it through that horrendous ordeal!Anqi by Crustacean at Bloomingdale’s, South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Tel 714-557-5679