I've joked for a long time that I wanted to write a review of restaurant bathrooms. Usually when I say that, I'm thinking of the impressive interior design of P. F. Changs, with its cool stone sinks, or the bright, friendly tile and chunky silver fixtures of Chalkies. Music Mill, which Jen reviewed last week, had beautiful black marble and clean, steel stalls, with piped-in music that had me humming along. Buca Di Beppo's is playful and fun, like the rest of its interior.
Yen Ching -- not so much.
Yen Chings is a sit-down Chinese restaurant with three locations, and we visited the east Washington one this weekend for dinner. The interior is a bit shabby and very dark (I could hardly see the menu) but decorated with the standard Chinese lantern light fixtures and decor. I wondered aloud where local restaurants get the light fixtures; there must be a wholesale supply house that stocks them.
I ordered the cashew chicken with a side of noodles, an order of crabmeat rangoons, and egg drop soup, while my girlfriend ordered the chicken vegetable deluxe.
The egg drop soup was interesting, but not my favorite. I've never had it with mushrooms (including black mushrooms) and onions in it, and the change in taste wasn't to my liking.
The crabmeat rangoons were good. Of course no restaurant has ever matched the perfection of Mandarin House when it comes to crab rangoon, so it's an unfair comparison. Yen Ching's didn't have enough (barely any) crab in the cream cheese, but at least they weren't dripping with grease the way some Chinese places make them.
Then I got up to visit the restroom, and the meal took a turn for the worse. I don't want to go into too much detail and make you lose your appetite, but I certainly lost mine. It wasn't a customer-created problem, more of a "no one has cleaned the grit and grime for years" type of problem; dirty vacuum cleaners stacked in the hall on the way, plumbing fixtures that were loose, grimy light switches, soap dispensers that I didn't want to touch. Imagine the worse gas station bathroom you've been in; this was it.
I made my way back to the table, but I didn't feel like eating. The cashew chicken was very tasty, but I couldn't shake the idea that the people who prepared my food washed up in the bathroom I visited, and I didn't have the heart to finish.
The server was on top of things the whole time and was quick to refill my water and check on us, but I still felt it took us an eternity to leave, and I was glad to be gone as soon as we hit the door.
I can't say whether the other two locations (in Carmel on east 116th street, and 96th and Michican Road) are better or worse, but I'm not inclined to visit and find out.
8512 E. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46219
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