Chef Lee’s Mandarin House
Chef Lee’s Mandarin House

Place: Chef Lee’s Mandarin House 

Category: Chinese



Location: 2031 N Fremont St. Monterey, CA 93940

Date of visit: 2021 January 8

On Friday, January 8, 2021 I ordered lunch to go from Chef Lee’s Mandarin House in Monterey. I have never been here before because, both from the outside appearances and the website (at least pre-pandemic), it appeared more of a place for in-person dining and I usually am more interested in take-out when I want to eat Chinese food. Just like I wouldn’t go to a nice steak house for takeout, the same goes for Chinese or any other food. Of course, everything is currently takeout so it seemed to be a good time to give it a try. Probably another factor for me not going here before is the online reviews. Their overall rating on Yelp! is not great (3 out of 5). Oddly enough some people seemed to have had a bad experience while others loved it. There are an almost equal amount of 5 star reviews as 1 star reviews; some people say the food was great but bad service and others say the food wasn’t good but the service was great. The reviews are not at all consistent! It is like people are talking about different restaurants. I don’t know what caused this dichotomy and I’m sure my review won’t solve the quandary but as I will describe, I was happy with my meal.

As I stated above, I ordered lunch for takeout. Like many Chinese restaurants they have a lunch menu that offers meals at a cheaper price than dinne

Scallop and Chicken with Shrimp Rice Plate
Scallop and Chicken w/ Shrimp Rice Plate from Chef Lee’s in its takeout container.

r. I like cheaper! I ordered the Scallop and Chicken w/ Shrimp Rice Plate. This was served with white race unlike some other restaurants that provide fried rice with their lunch and other specials. The rice was perfectly done. The amount of chicken, shrimp, and scallops was appropriate for the price paid ($12.95 before taxes). Overall the main part of the meal (i.e. the proteins and vegetables) was well-prepared and I felt quite tasty. They did not over-do the seasonings which I guess may be a good or bad thing depending on what you want but I found the taste pleasing. The chicken and shrimp were quite good. The scallops were good but not, in my opinion, as good as the chicken and shrimp. To elaborate, they were not under- or over-cooked but they were a bit bland. That said, scallops tend to be that way unless they are drenched in butter or something else so that is a matter of taste.

Scallop and Chicken w/ Shrimp Rice Plate
Scallop and Chicken w/ Shrimp Rice Plate from Chef Lee’s

With takeout it is hard to evaluate service but, as with most of the places I’ve been going to in the area, the food was ready on time and the transactions were pleasant so no complaints. I didn’t take any pictures of the interior because the chairs were on the tables for cleaning and that wouldn’t give a fair impression of what the interior was like but I thought it looked like a nice place to have a sit down meal and once indoor dining opens back up, I would like to check it out.

Overall I was satisfied with my takeout meal. Will I add it to my standard Chinese takeout rotation? I think I will likely get takeout from them again but it probably won’t supplant other places on my regular rotation. This is mostly because I think other places are a better value for takeout. That said, I really do want to give the in-restaurant dining a try when we are able to do that again as I think the ambiance would be nice and they have some dinners  (Peking and Chef Lee’s) designed for multiple people, that I assume are served “family style,” that sound really good. I imagine these are Chef Lee’s Mandarin House strength.

Place: Lucky Bamboo

Strawberry Latte
Fresh strawberry latte from Lucky Bamboo. It consists of milk with fresh strawberry jam mixed in.

Category: Chinese



Location: 1784 Fremont Blvd, Seaside, CA 93955

Date of visit: 2020 December 9

On Wednesday December 9, 2020 I order takeout food from Lucky Bamboo in Seaside, CA. I enjoy Chinese takeout but I haven’t actually gotten food at many of the Chinese restaurants in the area. I found one I really like: the food is good, prices are good, and owners are nice. Therefore, I didn’t go looking for another one because I had no reason to. However, with the goal of trying a new food place every week, I decided to venture out to a different Chinese restaurant. After looking at Yelp reviews, I decided to try Lucky Bamboo mostly because the other place I was considering didn’t have General Tso’s Chicken on the menu. I think the other place is more focused on traditional Chinese food versus American Chinese food. I wanted American Chinese food this night! I’ll try the other place at some point when I want something a bit less American.

As you would guess from above, I ordered General Tso’s Chicken. I ordered it in the form of a dinner special which included egg fried rice and an egg roll. I also ordered a fresh strawberry latte. For those that might not know what the fresh strawberry latte is, it’s fresh strawberry jam with the milk. Not much to say about it besides that it was delicious. Just as good as a milk shake although not quite as cold. I’d definitely order one from them again, I actually want another one right now!

General Tso's Chicken
General Tso’s Chicken from Lucky Bamboo

I felt that the General Tso’s Chicken Dinner Special was a good value. The chicken and sauce was great. It is interesting that every place, or at least in different regions of the U.S., serve this different. Back east I remember typical it was served with broccoli. Other places I’ve had it at didn’t include any vegetables. Lucky Bamboo served it with carrots, squash, and peppers. I am not a squash fan but I have to say the squash was well-prepared and I actually ate it all. That’s high praise! The carrots and peppers also were tasty with a good texture. Overall, I was quite pleased with the main dish. The egg fried rice was good but it was egg fried rice and not something like pork fried rice which I would have preferred. That said, the rice was perfectly prepared and vegetarians would have liked it (well, at least the set of vegetarians that eat eggs, I know some do and some don’t). The egg roll was good but nothing exciting. I was happy it was included and enjoyed it but I am not going to go out of my way for another one.

Since this was takeout I can’t say much about the service but the person that rang up my order was friendly and the food was ready on time. That’s what I like. Inside dining is currently closed in the area due to the pandemic but Lucky Bamboo has a nice, albeit not huge, dining area and a small bar. Unlike some Chinese restaurants that focus on takeout, the dining area had more of a casual restaurant feel than a fast food place feel. I think once we can eat inside again I will go and have a meal in the restaurant. I am not sure that Lucky Bamboo will knock off my regular go-to Chinese restaurant but I will add it to the rotation as I think they are neck and neck and I suspect it will depend on the individual meal or whatever is more convenient at the time to go to