Nick and I had dinner last night at Charlie Kang’s II in S. Lansing. A word to the wise: Don’t do it. They’re terrible! A friend of mine had recommended them, but I’m thinking that it must have been awhile since she’s been in there. The food was wretched and the service was pretty bad, too. I don’t see us ever going back there.
We drove separately. I got there first, walked in, and waited…and waited…and waited some more. Nick showed up and we waited a bit longer. There were no sounds or signs of life in the restaurant or the kitchen. A peek into the dining room showed one customer in a corner eating. There was no bell on the counter to let the staff know that people were waiting. Just as I was about to head to the kitchen to find someone to seat us, a waitress on an errand spotted us and led us to a table. She asked us for our drink orders (hot tea, iced tea, and a water) and walked away, no menus. A little while later we got the hot tea and the iced tea, but no water. She set them down and walked off again. So we wait and wait, and finally I flag her down. She sees me signaling and tells me that she’ll get my water right away. A little while later she gets me some water….but still no menus. So as she’s taking off yet again, I ask her about menus. She tells me that they only have buffet, waves negligently at the buffet table, and walks off. I thank her and explain that it’s the first time we’ve eaten there, so we didn’t know. She keeps walking.
So Nick and I get up and help ourselves to the buffet, even though a buffet isn’t what I really wanted. After having looked at a paper menu by the counter, I had assumed they were a full service Chinese-Korean restaurant. But apparently I was wrong. The buffet was not very good. Much of the food had obviously been sitting for awhile, and was dried out. Even though we showed up during the dinner hour (between 7:00-8:00 pm), we never saw anyone refilling any of the depleted buffet dishes, which were pretty well picked over. All of the shrimp was picked out of the seafood surprise. All of the meat was picked out of the beef and mushrooms. The only eggrolls left were mushy or burned (I tried one and it was awful). We should have just left, but we were hungry and on a time crunch, and they are right around the corner from our place.
After I received my water, we received no further service from the waitress. Refills were grudgingly provided by another worker only after we flagged him down because we were tired of having nothing to drink. The buffet featured a “FREE Hibachi Grill!!!”, but there were no directions on how to have the food provided grilled for you. I flagged the waitress down again, and was told that we were to take the food we wanted grilled, go to a door at the back of the dining room, and ring the bell, and someone would come out and fire up the grill and grill the food for us. After surveying the mostly empty containers of meats, veggies, and sauces, on the hibachi bar, we both passed on the grilled portion of the buffet.
Overall the food was yucky. The soup was bland, the eggrolls mushy and tasteless, the meat older and rubbery, and the veggies limp. Even the tea tasted like it was watered down. At one point I got up to use the restroom by the entrance, and noticed a couple sitting and waiting to be served much as I had waited. I probably should have warned them and told the to eat elsewhere. But I resisted the urge.
We ate pretty quickly and asked for our check. And then waited and waited some more. When we saw both of the waitstaff that had served us walking out of the kitchen with food and going to a private corner to eat, we decided to walk to the front as if we were going to leave without paying. So we walked up to the front and they pretty much ignored us! Well, I guess we could have walked out without paying, but we aren’t like that. I went up to the waitress and said, “We’d like to pay now. We are leaving.” So she got up and took our money. We left a pretty small tip (10%, less than our usual 20%). I asked about the paper menu that they had at the counter. I thought maybe they had that menu for delivery. But the waitress told me that they did not do delivery. So I guess I have no idea why they have a menu with entrees and meals on it when all they offer is their crappy buffet.
The couple who had been waiting for service were still sitting there waiting as we were leaving. The waitress didn’t even acknowledge them as they were trying to signal her while she was taking our payment. I took some satisfaction in making a face and giving them a thumbs-down signal as we walked out the door.
We’ll never eat there again, and I’m considering writing a letter to the owner to complain about the shitty food and service. Ick.