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“Kitschy value but average overall” 3 of 5 stars
Review of San Lin East Chinese Restaurant

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San Lin East Chinese Restaurant
953 W Pulaski Hwy, Elkton, MD
410 620 5009
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Ranked #54 of 77 Restaurants in Elkton
Price range: $7 - $16
Cuisines: Chinese
Description: Sometimes spelled "Sanlin"
Restaurant details
Description: Sometimes spelled "Sanlin"
Houston, Texas
Top Contributor
94 reviews 94 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
120 helpful votes 120 helpful votes
“Kitschy value but average overall”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2013 via mobile

Like many others, visited because of the giant golden Buddha status out front. Decor is almost overwhelming and feels like something out of a movie (or the A-Team tv show). Food is average "American" Chinese with a good selection, and the menu contains a dozen or so of the cheesy sweet cocktails in funky glasses. I was a bit put off by the fact that the menu had a line about adding a dollar to each price - and they charged an additional dollar for every $25 charged (NOT on the menu) but a small sign by the door. Gift shop filled with a mix of cheap goods, dusty liquor bottles, and decades-old nudie posters.

Worth a visit for the kitsch and people watching, but don't expect a bargain.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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10 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
57 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“The good, the bad, and the weird”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2011

I've read some of the other recent reviews, and while there were no cats anywhere to be seen, the rest of the reviews seem pretty spot-on. I will echo the sentiment that the interior of the restaurant is very unique, lights and decorations, musty smell, dark atmosphere, random stuff everywhere. It's definitely a sensory overload. The first time I went here, I walked up to the front door...and noticed that there were no windows? I'm still not sure if windows exist and are just covered up with tons of kitsch. My initial thought was that someone had drugged me and I had later woken up on a slow boat to China.

Honestly, the food isn't bad. I always enjoyed my entree (went about three or four times when I lived in the area). I think it was the beef in spicy ginger sauce. However, the hot and sour soup was disappointing. It tasted a bit burnt, and there were lots of black flecks in it...not sure if it was all pepper or some burn flecks as well.

The drink I got, I think it was a "zombie," was a strong rum drink filled with fruit and umbrellas and swords and all kinds of stuff. A fun touch. Almost poked my eye out. :)

I would suggest the place as a novelty once or twice, just to check out. The owner is nice and I was never there on Friday night, but apparently they have live musicians. It's just...fascinating. And bizarre.

  • Visited June 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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Newark, Delaware
Top Contributor
169 reviews 169 reviews
60 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 97 cities Reviews in 97 cities
79 helpful votes 79 helpful votes
“Interesting ambiance, but good food!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 17, 2011

We've been driving past this restuarant for many years. You can't miss it with the giant gold buddha out front and sitting by itself amongst the tall trees. There were only a handful of people at the bar at 6PM on a Friday night. There is a musky smell when you enter, kinda like gandma's house. The decor is very kichy, eclectic and busy with every space on the wall cover with a mishmash of things, mostly all for sale. The fiber-optic plants were all over. I never knew they made so many. On the eleveated stage covered with these plants was an older woman playing songs on a upright, elementary style piano. She played everything from Moon River to Old Rugged Cross. This is a odd sensory overload

It seemed we were the only ones eating there tonight which was a cause for concern initially. We ordered shrimp cocktail, which was fresh and tasty. We also ordered fried dumplings. They were good too and just what I expected. My wife had a big plate of shrimp fried rice that she really liked. I got the General Tso Chicken, my usual at a Chinese restaurant. Mine had plenty of steamed broccholi florets along with the white meat chicken that wasn't breaded, but had a tangy sauce. Not what I expected, but I cleared the plate. The bill came to $55. I think the General Tso was $13
The food was very good. The ambiance was different. It definitely made me feel we weren't in Elkton, but some over the top, bizarrely decorated place you only see in a movie or would visit in another part of the world. With only a few people there on a Friday night, I don't know how it stays in business. I think this place would be somehwere we would go to again for some decent Chinese food.

  • Visited December 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
mid atlantic
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
40 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“I Couldn't Believe What I Saw...”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed December 13, 2011

I first went to this restaurant as a guest for a birthday dinner. The place is fascinating inside. There not an empty place on a wall anywhere -knicknacks,fairy lights, pictures, urns...fun just to look around. Room is very dark. There were a number of us at several tables pushed together, but not another person dining at any other table. Food was average, but they did have decent scallion pancakes with dumpling sauce that I love but rarely see on a menu and the specialty drinks were good. Decided to take my two aunts here a few months later. Again the place was empty except for two people at the bar. Bartender/waiter took forever to take our order, food was terrible and service sooo slow. The place is very dimly lit so it wasn't until the waiter/bartender was bring our food that we realized a cat was curled up on the table across from us !! My aunt's duck was the daily special, but she said it tasted like it had freezer burn and was tough. If you're going to cook only one thing correctly it should be the item you're featuring as a "special dish" . She wasn't able to eat much of it. My other aunt said her food was ok, but I noticed she left a lot and didn't ask for a doggie bag. My orange chicken was probably the best of the 3 dishes, but seeing the bartender seat a couple at the table the cat had jumped down from a few minutes earlier was kind of a turn off.Scallion pancakes were burnt and way overcooked this time. Owner stopped by our table and gave each of us a glass rose from the gift shop right inside the door. She is so sweet none of us could bring ourselves to complain, but everytime I'm tempted to return I think of that cat curled up on the table.(when I tell people this story they think it's some kind of joke, but it's a true story...)

  • Visited March 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perryville, Maryland
1 review
“Average”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2011

I have visited San Lin for many years...the best of times were in Havre de Grace, Md...the food and service was excellent; always busy, with many regular customers. Since they closed that restaurant, and moved to Elkton, MD, the food and service is less than adequate. I love the owner, Yu Pin, but am so disappointed with everything else. The prices are high, the food is average at best, and the service ..... well, it's lousy. No need for reservations.....no one is there.

  • Visited May 2011
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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