Hooray, the Critic is back in Merida. Actually, he has been here for a while since the outing to Vancouver, but financial concerns have kept him from anything beyond tacos here and there and a repeat visit to La Susana Internacional in Kanasin, which has been reviewed to death. That and a quick regrettable lunch at Las Gordas in La Gran Plaza mall; regrettable because as the Critic foresaw, this cheap and delicious lunch led to a serious bout of gastrointestinal distress the following day.
Shaolin is the subject of this review; this is another entry into the already crowded Chinese food array of offerings in Merida, which range from the dirty and nasty little places in people’s garages to the mall versions to the stand-alone restaurants of which Nao, formerly known as Hong Kong, is the best known.
Located on 21 street between Montejo and Plaza Fiesta, this restaurant cannot be missed thanks to an enormous gold-colored dragon out front. Plenty of parking is available in front or on the street. Inside, the place is all hard surfaces and not particularly pretty, although it gives a good first impression with the ornamental metal bamboo structures and imaginative wall treatments. Once you look closely however, you can appreciate the shoddy workmanship that went into everything from the cement to the aluminum to the gyproc false ceiling. However, the effect is not unpleasant and does not distract one from enjoying the food.
The menu offers a combination of both cream-cheese-plagued Yucatecan sushi and standard Chinese fare seemingly lifted from the Nao menu. The Critic and his always up-to-a-challenge Better Half ordered the sticky sweet and delicious Chicken Chi Maa, the chock-full-of-goodies Chow Fan rice and an order of Tres Torolos sushi. Neither the Critic nor the Better Half understand the Torolos moniker, but there were three kinds of seafood on these rolls; salmon, shrimp and tuna if the Critic remembers correctly. The sushi was, unfortunately warm and so the Critic didn’t even go there. Warm sushi is a no-no. The fish was draped rather sparingly around the rice stuffed with cream cheese and avocado. It seems that folks here think that anyone can whip up some sushi; nothing to it! Wrong.
Service was pleasant and the food arrived quickly at the table as it was prepared. First the Chow Fan, then the Chi Maa chicken and lastly the “sushi”.
There are two televisions, one at either end of the restaurant, which somehow detract from the dining experience, since obvious attention was paid to the china (plates etc) and it seemed a little too nice for a restaurant that shows soccer games on TV. Air conditioning is good.
The bill came to 256 pesos for the above mentioned meal, along with a limonada and a Coca Cola, served from a bottle, thank you very much as opposed to a can or the pre-mix version.
Would the Critic return? Maybe. For the time being, Shaolin is nothing to write home about.