Name: Young Chow Cafe
Payment: Cash, Credit
Address: 8687 Sudley Rd.
Manassas, VA 20110
Hours of Operation: Sunday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Even though the restaurant is clean (for the most part anyway), it is incredibly dingy and dated. The first thing you see when you walk in is an out-of-place wall, which makes you feel like you're on the other side of a plexiglass partition at a takeout restaurant on the wrong side of town.
Once you acclimate yourself and walk into the restaurant proper, you're inundated by an overly bright, back-lit picture menu, reaffirming the sketchy-take-out place feeling.
Get past the plexiglass and the horribly bright menu, you'll notice the, "crème de la crème": A horribly dated and poorly-decorated dining room. The walls are an 1980s creamy-pink, the green booths, which are probably from the same decade, were skewed and pushed away from the walls like chairs someone left out of place. They looked their age and were thin and worn. There was no way I was going to sit on them, so I opted for take out.
As I looked over the menu, which was taped to the counter, a waitress came from the back. As I was just about to decide what to order, she handed me a bound version of the same menu and pointed to the lunch special, which I was clearly already looking through. I decided to order the General Tso lunch special which came with fried rice and an egg roll. It took a while for the food to come out, probably about 20 minutes, so I had time to mediate on what I'd gotten myself into.
The restaurant is located in the same shopping center as the Jukebox Diner. No matter what time of day, there always seems to be a good crowd in the center. Even though it was the heart of the lunch hour, it was rainy out and I assumed most people wouldn't bother going out, but the resturant's phone was silent—no one was even calling for delivery.
When I got back to the car and opened the box, I was a bit surprised. The portions were more than reasonable, however the chicken looked like it was swimming in sauce. I had to positioned the box so it wouldn't leak on my car seat. The sauce tasted one dimensional and was more like a base than General Tso sauce. I tried the eggroll, which was simple, but yet amazing. It was filled with carrots, cabbage, broccoli and shrimp and was perfectly fried. It was delicious, but sadly, it was the only part of the meal that was.
The rice was horrible. It was flavorless and aside from a little bit of egg, it was lifeless. That pool of sauce came in handy and helped spruce up the rice, but not much.
Unlike most restaurants, Young Chow uses white meat for General Tso. While it wasn't as tasty as other versions I've had, it was “healthier," which is the best thing I can say about it. It wasn't overly breaded or greasy and tasted more like it was pan-seared than anything. It had no flavor.
Overall, the food was disappointing. Even though the egg roll was phenomenal, it's not enough to make me ever want to come back. I wouldn't recommend this restaurant.
I was a bit worried to only see one person eating in Young Chow during my visit. The decoration and color scheme was unimpressive. The walls were pink! Even though the décor was rather depressing, I decided to sit down anyway.
When I initially walked in, the lone, visible employee said she would be with me in just a minute. Minutes later, I’m still standing there, feeling like an unwelcomed guest.
While I’m waiting for her, I take the opportunity to stare at the rather extensive menu that taped on the counter. They also had some non-appetizing pictures taped up on the wall, so I decided I’d rather stare at the taped-down menu.
When she finally walked over, I knew I had to make my decision quick, or risk her walking away again. So I shouted out sha sha beef, and told her I would like to dine in. She gave me a weird stare and instructed me to choose a seat.
After about 10 minutes of waiting, I noticed a man leaving with a couple of large delivery bags. Hmph. They must make something pretty good here, I thought. Moments later, the employee reappeared and asked if I planned on staying long. Confused, I asked what she meant. She said they were thinking of closing early because they were having a slow night and wanted to know how long I planned to stay. At this point, I still had not even received my food.
Since I did not want to be timed, and the fact that the atmosphere was just as depressing as the outdated décor, I told her I'll take it to-go. This garnered another strange look from her and I wasn't really sure what didn't upset or confuse this lady.
My to-go bag was extremely small. It had a tiny, little container of sha sha beef, and the smallest container of rice I have ever seen. There was one fortune cookie, but no cutlery or napkins.
I walked out the door knowing, I would never walk back in. The rice was fine—as little of it as there was. The sauce for the sha sha beef was good, but the quality of meat was poor. The corn was cooked well, but it had way too many overcooked onions. The couple of bamboo shoots I found were also good. There was no bok choy in the dish at all, which is typically a main ingredient.
While the food was not half bad, I thought it was way overpriced for the quantity. The atmosphere was depressing and the customer service was certainly lacking. I definitely would not recommend this place to anyone. The only good and, well, amusing part of the whole experience was the over sized goldfish in the eatery's front fish tank.