The Costa Rica Restaurant Review

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

California Western - Restaurant Review

mnsrconnoisseur | 28 April, 2008 18:31

Update: 

Unfortunately, as happens quite frequently with many of the "hobby" or "amateur" restaurants that pop up all over the place in Costa Rica, California Western has closed.  There is another restaurant where California Western used to be, but I have not yet had the opportunity to try it out.

The below review is kept only for archive purposes.

M.C. 

**************************** 

California Western is, quite simply, a hamburger shop.  You can order hamburgers or salads.

I went with a friend on a Wednesday afternoon at about 4:30 pm, and the place was totally empty.  Hoping this wasn´t an indication that the food wasn´t edible, we went ahead and ordered a classic burger each, and a half of a salad to share. They have a nice selection of salads -- we ordered the "Hollywood". 

Our order had been taken almost immediately (since we were the only ones there), but there was certainly no hurry in preparing the food.  I think we must have waited a good twenty minutes or more before being served.

My burger was good sized, well prepared, and came with onion rings and potato chips.  The salad was visually appealing, well prepared with a nice variety of ingredients, and was also surprisingly large for being only a half order.

After we finished eating we collected the bill, and noted that we had the pleasure of enjoying a late lunch for two people for around $12.

So, to summarize, we received a restaurant quality hamburger (that is to say, a REAL ¨homemade¨ burger, as opposed to some frozen and reheated patty made mostly from genetically modified soybeans like you get at McDonalds, or even the tasteless pre-made frozen ¨tortas de carne¨ that are the main ingredient of the hamburgers you find at most of the Costa Rican sodas) for a good price (much less than one would pay for a hamburger at, say, TGIF, Tony Roma´s, or Outback Steakhouse) in a comfortable and clean environment with friendly service.  The only downside was the wait for the food.  I don´t know how they possibly manage when the place is actually BUSY.  But perhaps it was the time of day we went or some other factor which led to the wait.

Please feel free to comment on whether your experience with this restaurant is similar, or if your waiting times are better (or worse).  As my experience of California Western was more or less positive, I will likely eat there again, and will perhaps post an updated review when I do.

M.C.

Note:  California Western is located in the Center of Escazú, 350 Meters East of the Old Municipality Building

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