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Bites Nearby: Lucky Chinese Restaurant

Forget luck. This restaurant needs a good scrubbing.

Overview:  

is located in a small strip mall off Route 19 in Wexford. It serves traditional Chinese cuisine, specializing in Mandarin and Szechuan. Portions are generous and prices are slightly below average for a Chinese restaurant. Food may be eaten in the restaurant or ordered for takeout. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Business was very slow even though it was 6 p.m. on a Tuesday evening, a prime time for takeout. Two orders went out, and two teenagers came to dine during the 45 or so minutes we were there.

Décor: There are a few Asian-themed pictures on the wall and a few paper lanterns, but no real "décor" to speak of. There are eight booths and three tables with seating for six.

Unfortunately, our first impression of Lucky Chinese was that the front door was very dirty. We actually hesitated going in at all, but duty (and Patch's review schedule) called.

The restaurant is not much cleaner. The carpet is stained and spotted and quite worn, the chairs are dusty and a closet in the corner is missing a door and displaying various supplies and boxes stacked inside and out. The establishment is desperately in need of paint from floor to ceiling. The ceiling fixtures could use a good scrubbing as well.

The door to the kitchen was propped open with a box, and there were food droppings on the floor area leading to the kitchen.

I really, really wanted to go inspect the kitchen because I figure if they can't make an effort in the area the customer sees, what's going on back there?

The Drinks: A cooler with canned and bottled drinks and pitchers of water.

 Appetizers: There are four appetizer sections on the menu, Asian Appetizers, Cold Szechuan Style, Classic Snacks and Soup. They range from $2.50 to $6.95 for appetizers, $3 to $9.95 for soup. We ordered the egg rolls, but got the spring rolls. They were just OK, and a bit skimpy on the stuffing.

Entrees: As extensive as the appetizer menu. Lucky Chinese has a section called Lucky's Signature dishes, ranging from $12.95 to $16.95, that includes entrées such as Seafood in the Bird's Nest, Lamb Twin Delight and Walnut Shrimp. There are also lamb, fish, beef and noodle dishes in this section.

The remainder of the menu is divided up into Seafood, Beef and Lamb, Pork and Poultry Selections. There are separate sections for Szechuan boiled-style items, Moo Shu-style, Hot Pots, Vegetarian and Noodles. There is also a lunch menu as well as dinner specials.  All dinner items range from $6.50 to $15.95. Lunch is $5.95 to $6 and includes rice, spring roll and cookie. Lunch, apparently, is carry-out only.

We ordered what the waitress said were the most popular items: La Tsi Chicken ($9.95), Crispy Fish Filet ($14.95) and Authentic Twice Cooked Pork ($10.95). We also ordered a to-go dinner of Sesame Chicken ($9.95) for a family member who was running late.

The pork was good, although quite chewy, almost like jerky. I've had twice-cooked pork many times; this seemed overcooked. The vegetables in the mix, though, were excellent. The La Tsi was overcooked, very hard chicken bites with a sauce that was all heat, no flavor. The fish was well-prepared, but had an odd aftertaste, as did the La Tsi and the Sesame Chicken.

I couldn't put my finger on it until I was awakened very early the following morning  and realized … orange, it was orange! Everything we had except the pork had an aftertaste of orange.

Again, it made me want to inspect the kitchen and see, not only if it was as grungy as the restaurant, but also if the cooks were cooking everything in the same pot, resulting in flavor transfer across different dishes.

Desserts: Desserts are generally not a feature in an Asian restaurant, but they do have Rice Pudding ($3.95), Chinese Donuts ($4.95) and several other sweet selections on the menu.

Service:  The waitress was very nice and had a lovely smile. There was a bit of a language barrier, so we weren't sure if we got answers that made sense to a couple of questions we asked, but we don’t care about that. We figure we can figure it out.

Food service itself was fairly random, our first entrée came out with our appetizers, the others followed at various paces. One quibble about the waitress: She sat the entire time in the first booth and played with her phone, sometimes laughing aloud as the phone beeped and buzzed. It was quite distracting and not very professional, but, after all, this is a very small place and she was a very young woman, so we may have been expecting too much. Although, if she'd been my kid, I'd have made her clean that floor before she was allowed to play with her toys.

Conclusion: This is the first review I've done where I can't find much positive to say. We did survive the meal with no ill effects in spite of my worries about the grungy atmosphere, not even a stomach upset. Still, I do not like to eat in a dirty restaurant. It makes me nervous. I have in-laws who haven't cleaned their house since the 1980s, and I won't eat there either. I bring in Chinese takeout. I don’t like to press my luck, hygiene-wise, when it comes to food.

As for the food, could it have been me and not them? When they say "authentic" are they saying that this is not typical Asian cuisine such as we find in other local restaurants? Am I comparing apples to oranges (far too much orange for my taste) and I am just not aware? I don't think so for several reasons.

1. We've had authentic and exotic Asian foods of all kinds in New York and LA and many points in between (cow brains, anyone?).

2. We love all Asian food, and at least one of us would eat it for every meal.

3. We are adventurous, fairly noncritical eaters.

But maybe I'm wrong. If you know, let me know.

Cost: $

11360 Perry Highway, Wexford. 724-934-8366

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