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The Early Word on A-OK Chinese

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American-style Chinese food was hard to come by in South Austin, so restaurant veterans John Bullington and Jerry Reid opened A-OK Chinese to fill the gap.

The restaurant has been open officially for three weeks, and Yelp and other crowdsourced reviewing outlets have blown up with criticism and praise. A-OK currently has 40 Yelp reviews, a high number for a new business, and they vary wildly. Read on for the good news, the bad news, and the growing meta-Yelp debate.

THE BATHROOM NEWSYelper Mr. G. enjoyed most of his food, though found the prices to be high. On the bathrooms: "I'm going to give this place a four star because a) they're new and they deserve some leeway and b) the bathrooms are clean and cleverly designed (not something you normally see in a chinese food restaurant)." [Yelp]

THE TOFU NEWSYelper Craig B. was very disappointed: "The fermented black bean and pork was just pathetic. It tasted like fermeted black bean paste out of a jar mixed with a bit of corn starch. It lacked salt and was completed overdone. The Salt and Pepper shrimp were fine, but we only got 4 shrimp. The tofu stir fry was BURNED. Do you know how hard it is to burn tofu? " [Yelp]

THE HOT AND SOUR NEWSUrban Spoon user Susan found the food to be 'fresh': "My hot and sour soup was delicious, filled to the brim with natural spices and fresh mushrooms and onions, which accounts for its $6 price tag. I would like a smaller portion to be offered to complement my entree. Be forewarned. The soup is very spicy! I ordered the garlic sauce with chicken and vegetables. Ample portions of meat and fresh vegetables but I would have preferred more garlic sauce to mix in my rice." [Urban Spoon]

THE OVERPRICED NEWS — The food was acceptable but the price was an issue for Yelper Robert G: "Overpriced for small portions. Pei Wei, to me and my friends, tastes better and is 60% the price for the same, relatively small portions. Also, we noticed that just after last week's soft opening, they've already raised their prices on everything by $1. Pretty daring for a new business if you ask me." [Yelp]

THE PRICING COMPARISON RESPONSEYelper Joe B. weighs in on pricing: "I've seen other mention this already, so I'll pile offer my view: it seems a little too expensive for what you get (someone else here compared it to Pei Wei, which is insane... like comparing Hopdoddy to Burger King). But let's take ESK Tori Meshi as an example. Similar in size to one of the entrees, but only $8. Maybe we're all just used to ordering a few smaller dishes to share amongst friends?" [Yelp]

THE SERVING SIZE DEBATE CONTINUES — The serving sizes aren't small according to Yelper Rick G: "I expected to get 2 meals out of what I ordered, but it's going to be more like 3 or 4 full meals; the servings aren't small." [Yelp]

THE ICE CREAM NEWS — Visiting from Houston, Vanessa V. was a fan: "We were quite full by the end, but still found room for the green tea soft serve ice cream (genius). It came with a choice of toppings, sesame glass, peanuts, or candied ginger. My favorite topping was definitely the ginger, it had a great spicy kick." [Yelp]

THE OVERSALTED NEWSUrban Spoon user kf1244 thought service was OK but not a fan of the Salt & Pepper chicken: "The Salt and Pepper chicken was horrid. It tastes like they dumped the salt shaker completely in the pan. There was no real taste behind the salt. It would have tasted better if I had dumped chick-fila nuggets on brown rice." [Urban Spoon]

THE UNDERSALTED NEWSYelper Melissa F. found the food undersalted and thinks the restaurant only appeals to olds: "Maybe if your an old person with no taste buds would you like this place, but no 22 year-old culinary institute of America graduate would think this place was acceptable. . . Try adding a hint of msg so I feel like I'm not eating cardboard." [Yelp]

THE FIVE-STAR NEWS Yelper Michael H. was perfectly pleased by his experience: "Friendly staff, delicious food - I had the salt and pepper beef with brown rice; the veggies were cooked perfectly, just the right amount of crunch - food was super fresh and flavorful , not grease laden, it made my body happy to eat it, looking forward to coming back and trying more things on the menu!" [Yelp]

THE LESS-THANK A-OK NEWS — Christina A. leaves a one-star review: "The brown rice was over cooked, and had absolutely no flavor. The Chicken was...eh alright, came with cabbage, jalapeño and carrots for the veggies. The jalapeño was really the only thing I tasted. So I guess in a way I got jalapeño chicken instead of salt & pepper...either way it subpar and I can't say I'll it was A-OK." [Yelp]

THE COMPETITIVE EATING NEWS — Austin's Hungry Todd Rungy instagrams his meal and declares, "I'd say this Chinese food is better than A-OK." [Instagram]

THE META-YELP NEWS — The wildly varying reports on Yelp result in some harsh words for other Yelpers from Kendra T.: "I'm honestly really disgusted with the outward nasty responses on yelp. Oh you're a food blogger are you? Oh ya you went to CIA did you? Forgive me. Clearly you are the end all be all of critiquing food. You folks make me sad." [Yelp]
· All A-OK Chinese Coverage [EATX]
· All Good News / Bad News [EATX]
[Photo: Christina A/Yelp]

A-OK Chinese

1509 S. Lamar Austin TX

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