The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

La Princesa Marina - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 28 May, 2008 18:04

La Princesa Marina is primarily a seafood restaurant.  They do serve other types of dishes, such as chicken, beef, etc. but those items are not the specialty, and frankly are not the attraction of this place. 

My understanding is that the owner of La Princesa Marina also owns a fleet of fishing vessels, and (though i have never tried this) that you can actually buy fresh seafood at this restaurant to prepare at home.

I have eaten here twice, and I´m not sure why I don´t go more frequently.  The seafood is indeed served very fresh, is reasonably well prepared, and inexpensive.  While seafood in Costa Rica tends to be on the pricey side, I think you would pay as much or more buying raw seafood for preparation at home at a supermarket as buying a complete seafood meal at La Princesa Marina.  My most recent visit was with a party of 4 adults and one small child.  We all ate our fill, INCLUDING drinks for everyone, and paid just less than $40.  A complete seafood meal (dinner -- not lunch) for less than $10 per person?  I don´t know where else to find that kind of value.

Meals are not elaborate, but are well prepared.  Most dishes come with a side order of rice and vegetables.  On my first visit I had a garlic octopus dish that was simply delicious.  For my second visit I had a plate of mixed shellfish.  While the shellfish were obviously fresh, I didn´t enjoy this dish as much as the octopus because the shellfish were so thoroughly bathed in sauce, that the flavors mixed and everything tasted the same.  It was good, but it would have been better with either less sauce or a lighter (less powerful) sauce in order to accentuate the different flavors of the shellfish.  Of course I could have ordered the octopus a second time, or could order that the next time I go.  But there are so many tasty looking dishes on the menu that I will continue to roll the dice and try something new when I return.

Due to the low prices, La Princesa Marina is a popular restaraunt.  There is a good showing during the week and on the weekends it is just plain crowded.  Pick your times in order to avoid the crowds, or put up with the noise.  This restaurant is not the type of place to spend a romantic evening over a candle-light dinner -- it is a place to EAT seafood at a good price.  Tables, place settings, ambiance, etc. are very plain.  So overall the place is noisy, but clean, with good food and low prices.

In it´s class -- highly recommended.

M.C.

Note:  La Princesa Marina has locations in Sabana, Curridibat, and Alajuela.  I have only been to the restaurant in Sabana, which is located 150 meters south of Channel 7 (Teletica).

Visit their website at http://www.princesamarina.com

China Express - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 14 May, 2008 14:28

China Express isn´t really a restaurant, because they don´t have restaurant facilities where clients can actually sit down and dine.  They offer take out or delivery services ONLY.  Still, a review seemed appropriate for these pages.

In my experience, it is difficult to find really good Chinese food in Costa Rica.  Chinese resataurants here tend to be manned by Nicaraguan cooks (this is not a slur against Nicaraguans -- it is merely an observation), not Chinese, and they tend to be overpriced for the quality of food that one receives.  Incidentally, regarding the cooks being Nicaraguan, that´s not necessarily a bad thing because I have also eaten at a small Chinese restaurant in Moravia (that will remain unnamed) that in fact did have Chinese cooks (and apparently Chinese owners as well) that was really terrible -- the food was expensive and very low quality, and the restaurant was actually DIRTY as well.  Go figure.

Still, one can find Chinese restaurants that at least PASS as decent.  Again, the food is probably overpriced compared to what you would pay for a similar sized meal of the same quality at another type of restaurant, but if you are in the mood for Chinese food, there are acceptable options.  China Express is one of the acceptable options.

Perhaps it is because they only do take out or delivery and don´t have the extra overhead of running an actual sit-down restaurant, but they are less expensive than some of the other decent Chinese restaurants, and the food is of comparable quality -- I would also say that serving sizes are actually slightly larger than average here.  They don´t offer some of the more specific Chinese dishes (at least that I know of) like Peking duck, but the more basic dishes like chow mein, wontons, egg rolls, chinese-style vegetable dishes, and fried rice are all decent.

As with all Chinese food, remember to ask for ´no MSG´ unless you want holes in your brain.  Here MSG is known as ajinomoto.

Ten or twelve thousand colones should be easily sufficient for two people to eat pretty much all they want from China Express (and let me tell you -- I can put away A LOT of food), and that includes delivery.  You get a discount if you pick up the food yourself.  Delivery time is usually reasonable at 35 to 45 minutes, and they usually deliver in less time than they say they will.
Buen provecho!

M.C.

Note:

You can place your order with China Express via phone as follows:

In Sabana (which includes the Escazú area): 2220-0324

In San Pedro: 2224-0195

In Heredia: 2293-4575
 
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