Sunday, March 29, 2009

Face Cafe: Visit #2



CHANGE is happening. About a month ago, Face Cafe was a place that had just a handful of customers. Yelp reviews gave this place an overall score of only 2.5 stars. The manager wasn't present. Service was pretty good.

Now, it is a place that is full during the meal times, has many waiting customers, and the manager is out doing the waiting line. Times have changed.

And so...when we decided to pick Face Cafe for dinner, what did we meet at the entrance? A huge line of customers, of course. But too tired to continue driving to some other restaurant, we waited, looking at the employees cutting lemon slices at the bar area, watching that TV that only just makes our appetite go more hungry...

There were 10 parties of people ahead of us when we were waiting. That, for us, is a lot.

But after about 15 minutes or so, we got our seat. What amazed me the most was that the booster seats were already breaking down, with the material on the outside cracking and tearing. Only a month or two and this has happened? Wow...

The service though, is just getting better. Our many requests for lemon slices (after seeing the person during our wait cut SO much lemon and then just putting it into the fridge for later use, we wanted them!) were made. Once, our server accidentally forgot to put the extra lemon into our lemon iced tea, and he apologized very nicely, almost to the fact that he seemed like a first class or business class lead flight attendent on a very nice airline. He then asked if he should get the lemon slices for us and we politely refused as he was already so nice to us. It reminds me back when flight attendents were all very nice to me :) and what I am doing at my job at school.

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And lets go a step back and see the meal. This time, our choices were a bit dependent on what we saw on the screen. After all, we watched that video of food loop twice during our wait. And one of the foods we saw on the screen was a homemade fishball rice noodle soup, which also had a special fish broth. Was it that good?

Well, it wasn't that great. Although the rice noodles were cooked to a very nice stage (slightly chewy, like at Yunnan Garden), and the fishballs were very springy and flavorful with a mix of very flavorful ingredients, the broth was a bit light. I was expecting the fish broth to be more flavorful with more richness and more fish flavor. This was a bit light for our tastes. We could make a better fish broth at home.

And also, look at how little of the bowl was filled. Don't be stingy, Face Cafe! I hope better from you next time.

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Yet another item we saw on the mesmerizing and pixelated LCD TV (IMHO, you should make your video suitable for your 500 dollar or more TV) was beef stew. And so, we ordered the beef stew on rice, which was pretty good yet again. The very good point about this dish was the rice. It was not clumpy, and it tasted like freshly steamed rice.

However, the beef stew was not so great. The flavor of the sauce was a bit too much. There were way too many added ingredients to the sauce. Five spice powder, cloves, and more were VERY evident. The worse was the beef. It didn't feel at all like it was slow cooked. Instead, it was a bit tough. Now, how is that beef stew we know and love???


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On the TV, there was also a Portuguese chicken rice that looked delicious. And when it was presented to us, it also looked very nice. Yellowy, browned on top...it looked like delicious goodness. But, it wasn't.

It was BLAND!!! Someone apparently forgot to put the salt in. Before the salt was added (original state), pretty much all you would taste would be milk and a hint of coconut, and a very, very slight hint of curry. Very bland.

But, with the addition of salt, everything changed. It wasn't as creamy, and the curry and savory flavors finally came out. Still though, it was bland.

Everything else though was fine. There were many fried potatoes (like what you would see at Green Island), and also lots of meaty pieces of chicken. The rice, served alongside, was also very fresh and delicious :).

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And finally, a dish that we decided to order without looking at that very annoying TV that makes one just get even hungrier. This was the black bean clams, which we accidentally ordered, thinking that it would be the ultra yummy clam and rice noodle wok dish that we ordered last time.

But the accidental order proved to be pretty good! It was just as good as May Mei's version of black bean clams. What we only hoped for would be for more clams- there was a bit too little clams for us.

However, these clams were GIANT, meaty, and fresh! They were fantastic. And there was the usual onions and bell pepper too. Most amazing though, was the sauce, which had some fermented soy bean and black bean, as well as mini pieces of garlic which were bomb with rice. Yum.

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And, our last dish of the day was the big peatips with "supreme" soup, which was cooked very nicely. They were lightly crisp, and were nicely seasoned. The "soup" was great with rice, and the strips of smoked duck added some nice flavor to the dish.

My hypothesis for this place's future: even more people, crowded during the weekend, and still good food and good service. And hopefully, every bad item will be fixed. :)

Face Cafe
301 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801
Tel: 626-282-8899

Face Cafe on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

shavedicesundays said...

I can't stand it when the food is so nicely presented but tastes awful when you bite into it.

EatTravelEat said...

Shavedicesundays,
I agree! Whenever I see a nice presentation, I expect it to be good, but then when it isn't, I feel really disappointed.

SinoSoul said...

looks like Face Cafe NEVER got its act together. Easily the worst meal of '09 so far: http://sinosoul.com/?p=1207

EatTravelEat said...

SinoSoul,

For some dishes, I agree they didn't get their act together. If you are going to make the food look good, you better make it taste good! Their other dishes are better though compared to most of the dishes we had on this visit.

Passionate Eater said...

Sounds like there is some good and some bad, but overall, a place worth visiting. I am glad to hear that the service is good, but hope they can fully improve their food, across the board.

EatTravelEat said...

Passionate Eater,

That's pretty much also my point of view on this place too!