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“Handy take-out joint”
Review of Chang Lai - CLOSED

Chang Lai
Cuisines: Chinese
Restaurant details
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
112 reviews
72 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Handy take-out joint”
Reviewed 27 February 2014

Hole in the wall Chinese restaurant serves good, hearty, fare. Fairly standard menu for restaurants of this size, generous portions. Compared to Chinese restaurants found in larger cities, an overall average rating.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank JSWKingsfield
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

11 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    2
    5
    2
    2
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Sparks, Nevada
Level Contributor
28 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Hole in the wall GREAT PLACE TO EAT!”
Reviewed 17 October 2013 via mobile

Went to this place as we walked by. No wait because there was only two other people. The place is a little on the iffy side but when we sat down a sweet waiter took our order. Good customer service. We got pot stickers first, they were HUGE and delicious. Probably the best I've ever eaten. Overall the food was great and I hope the best for them.

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
Thank Maegen A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mount Angel, Oregon
Level Contributor
34 reviews
27 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Average overall, but several negatives tip my review toward "Poor"”
Reviewed 4 September 2013

This small Chinese restaurant in downtown Salem, Ore., is nondescript from the outside and plain inside as well, with a spartan decor. I do remember they have a large poster tacked to the wall near the register advertising "Corona" beer against a beach or desert backdrop, more usually seen in a dive bar or a tacqueria. Our party of two businesspeople tried Chang Lai for a workday lunch hour 12-1pm, but with only one solitary waitress on duty, she was spinning like a top trying to help everyone and we didn't get the prompt, attentive service we needed this day to do our lunchtime quick turnaround. When we were there, the restaurant was not that busy--one table already there with a family (2 adults, 3 kids), then our party of two came in, then another table with a solo person, plus two normal-sized takeout orders that came in for pickup while we were there. We rushed to make our menu choices quickly to help accommodate the work lunch time crunch, but it took too long for us to get the waitress's attention to our table. We noticed before taking our order, she took the order of a solo diner that had come in after us. Our meals came with a choice of egg drop or hot and sour soup, and choice of fried rice (no indication what kind, maybe just egg and no meat in it) or steamed. Water was provided on the table, and we requested hot tea, which arrived tasting "burnt" as if it was over-steeped on the burner for too long, bearing a very strong taste of tannins. My egg drop soup had bits of corn, peas and carrots in it (I think those are non-typical), and it had a gelatinous, gooey texture with vague, indistinct flavor. It seemed to need both salt and pepper, so I added a bit of soy sauce and black pepper, but it didn't help. I pushed it aside, and noticed my companion had been forced to "doctor" the taste of her sweet and sour soup, too. Our entrees took a bit longer than we'd expected, so when they arrived we had 12 minutes to eat and walk (run) back to the office. Time to gulp and go--just a few bites and into "To-Go" containers so we could make a hasty exit. The chef produced nice flavor on the sauces on both dishes (Hunan Chicken in Black Bean Sauce, and Pork in Hot Garlic Sauce), but the presentation seemed rushed; onions and peppers chopped large and chunky, as if in a hurry--based on our wait, the kitchen may have just been backed up and rushing food out quickly, but the execution seemed just thrown together. Maybe our experience was just a combination of factors occurring this particular day; hope they're better on a usual basis, but I don't have a strong incentive to try them again. Best thing they had going for them was proximity to downtown offices!

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Bob K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Salem, Oregon
Level Contributor
71 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Close to Salem's best Chinese!”
Reviewed 22 June 2013

I've had lunch here four times now. And each time I'm blown away by the fresh, non-greasy food, the remarkable values and the gargantuan quantities of deliciousness!
I have never finished all of what I was served. With the benefit of bowser boxes, I usually stretch one of two more meals out of one lunch.
I highly recommend the Singapore Noodles and Crystal Prawns. Also, unless you're averse to mild spiciness, opt for the Hot & Sour Soup.
(Just in case you're wondering why I said “Close to Salem's best” in my headline; China Gourmet is still the reining king of Chinese eateries in Salem.)

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank ChuckBradley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Salem, Oregon
Level Contributor
625 reviews
361 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 244 helpful votes
“Not just the typical fare, and a full meal to go”
Reviewed 21 May 2013

This new restaurant is valiantly making the effort to utilize this space one more time for a Chinese restaurant where two others have failed. Chang Lai has many of the usual Chinese dishes, and also several I have not seen on other menus outside of Chinatown in big cities. There are many Hunan and Szechuan ethnic dishes, with a whole special menu of various pork organ meats.

We tried the traditional mu shu pork, as our test of basic fare. We were not disappointed. The pancakes were perhaps a little too delicate. The pork, cabbage, egg and bean sprout filling was tasty and complemented by the plum sauce. Not the best, but very good.

We also tried something different, with the Fiery Pot of Fish Morsels on a Bed of Cabbage. We had asked the server for his recommendation and, when we said we liked fish, he heartily suggested this dish. This was labeled as spicy, but was not the fiery heat that wipes out the flavor of a dish. These pepper flakes imparted a subtle spicy flavor that enhanced the fish and did not overpower it. The fish morsels were tender and tasty, with a silky texture. The bed of cabbage and green onions provided a good flavor complement and I especially liked the cilantro leaves that added a little unexpected delicious flavor.

We were offered a pot of hot tea when we arrived and orange slices at the end of the meal. These were both excellent additions to the experience.

We had toyed with trying an appetizer. It is a good thing we did not. The portions are huge. I mean huge. Did I say HUGE? We both have healthy appetites, and still left half the food untouched. We were happy to take it home for another meal. Two meals for the price of one!

This would be the perfect place for 6-8 friends to go together and share a few dishes. You would still have some to take home because there are just too many delicious sounding dishes on the menu to pass up.

The decor of this place leaves a lot to be desired. It is a long tunnel and I don't know what could be done to make it more homey. That said, the quality of the food is what I was here for, and we left pleased and we saw too many items on the menu we would like to try to stay away too long.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank pkrissel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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