Hao Wah Chinese Restaurant, Pinellas Park FL – Review
One of my toughest critics is my 24 year old son. “Dad, you go on and on, don’t you know people lose interest after 200 words? And”, he continues, “what do you expect for a $25 meal?” Point taken son, I’ll try to keep reviews brief, but FYI, your mother and I do expect a lot from our $25. So in one of the most boring cities in America, with as much style and panache as a Trenton truck stop, we drove over to Pinellas Park and tried the Hao Wah Chinese “buffet” restaurant.
It’s small, very clean and comfortable. The physical buffet is much smaller compared to others in the area. They have “real” hot tea which is becoming hard to find with people requesting funny “cocktail” teas – green tea, blue tea or similar. Nothing is as good as real “Chinese”hot tea. During the meal at no time did we need to ask for more tea or water, the waiter always keep us well supplied.
It was the usual Chinese buffet food interspersed with American “samplings” for kids and reluctant seniors who get squeamish eating eggrolls. We didn’t see any crab Rangoon’s which is essential to any Chinese buffet meal – eat in or take out. For those of you who are not familiar with the popular appetizer, it’s a deep fried triangle shaped “puff” filled with cream cheese, crab and seasoning. I moved on and filled my real ceramic plate – plastic being the norm – with a variety of other items.
So, the green beans were terribly undercooked. I tried the spring roll but after one bite put it aside. The egg roll was better. The white rice was perfectly cooked – warm, soft and fluffy, but the Lo Mein was overcooked and mushy. I really wasn’t too thrilled about anything else because it all lacked that distinct Chinese food flavor that makes one (temporarily) crave these places. I won’t say it tasted as if it came out of a can, it wasn’t that salty, but nothing, other than the white rice was cooked up to par enough to call it good.
Because there were none on the buffet, I asked the waiter if they had crab Rangoon’s and he said no. Strange, but there was no peanut chicken either, and we just let it go. My wife decided to eat only 1/2 of what was on her plate and got up to check out the if the u want “Mongolian” grill the chef will (maybe) come out from the back deal. She didn’t like the look of the raw chicken or meat, but noticed fresh crab Rangoon’s had been put out.
We both tried them. Do you know what a “blintz” is? It’s kind of like a rolled crepe or pancake created by Jews back in Poland. With blueberry jam on top they’re delicious. Well, these crab Rangoon’s, completely devoid of crab or seasoning, reminded me exactly of blintzes. We ended the meal with very frozen vanilla soft ice cream (the chocolate wasn’t working) and over sugared pastries. The bill was $21 + $2 tip. Bottom line, the owners were delightful and accommodating, but I have to give them a “D”. Once again, we proved to ourselves that a great Chinese restaurant does not exist in Pinellas County.