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“Sam Woo BBQ Express: Big Portions, Inexpensive Food, Inconsistent Quality”
3 of 5 bubbles Review of Sam Woo

Sam Woo
Ranked #21 of 646 Restaurants in Irvine
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Chinese, Seafood, Asian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Kids, Large groups, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Irvine, California
Level Contributor
136 reviews
104 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Sam Woo BBQ Express: Big Portions, Inexpensive Food, Inconsistent Quality”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 17, 2013

I've ordered food-to-go several times at Sam Woo BBQ Express, which is at one side of the bigger sit-down restaurant. You can eat at one of the many public patio tables outside or take the food home. Hanging barbequed animals of many kinds and a long but fast-moving line greet you when you walk in. Then you see a long steam table with a large selection of Chinese food. You can buy single dishes by the container or combos to go with 1, 2, or 3 entrees and rice or chow mein. There is no inside seating at the Express. Soup comes with your combo order

Sometimes the food is well-prepared, hot, and tasty, and other times you feel like throwing most of it into the trash bins outside. The last time I ordered a 1-entree combo with slivered pork and tofu (bean curd), and chow mein--about a week ago, It was a gloriously sunny Southern California day, so I sat at a table overlooking the busy parking lot to eat lunch. The nondescript egg drop soup was hot and harmless. But my entree and chow mein were only lukewarm. The pork and tofu would have been fine (not exceptional, mind you) except that the dish's plentiful white onions were raw or only barely cooked, and I could taste them for nearly two days, despite mouthwash, gum, and vigorous teeth brushing.The chow mein was oodles of noodles with just a hint of white onions (is there a theme here?) plus green onions to give the dish something else to think about. There was so much food that I couldn't finish it all (or maybe...?). The best part was the whole thing cost under $5. Did I mention they take only cash?

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Adrienne E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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186 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    5
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Mission Viejo, California
Level Contributor
59 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Woo Good”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 28, 2013

The menu will hurt you if you drop it on your foot. It has good clear pictures. You will know just what you are getting. Yes it will be very good. I like the Dim Sum.

Visited May 2013
Helpful?
7 Thank bigFootzx
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Flagler Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
872 reviews
280 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 521 helpful votes
“Authentic Tasty Chinese Food in Irvine, California”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 22, 2013

We were a group of eight and had a very enjoyable Saturday night dinner. The popularity of the restaurant was obvious from the waiting crowd - despite having a reservation we had to wait for a table, but it was definetely worth the wait. We had ordered for a variety of dishes, family style, from different starters to main dishes - such as: Fried Crab Puffs, Seafood Salad, Sauteed Broccoli, Kung Pao Chicken, Shrimp Fried Rice, Mixed Fried Rice & House Special Chow Mein. The service was friendly and swift. This place is recommended for authentic tasty Chinese food in Irvine, California.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
8 Thank Traveler-O-World
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Irvine, California
Level Contributor
376 reviews
299 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 93 helpful votes
“Come here for the BBQ pork”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 5, 2013 via mobile

Come here for the BBQ pork. Express side. Cash only. Wait staff hurried. Very busy most of the time. Good seafood chow mein.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
9 Thank Mark H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Western Hemisphere
Level Contributor
229 reviews
213 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 92 helpful votes
“Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 11, 2013

Right beside regular Sam Woo Restaurant and Sam Woo Express, places I have visited many times in the past and already reviewed, exists Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant. Truth be told: it is a little better than the other two. Also more expensive. And as I was to find out soon enough, also with more patronizing attitude that I am able to put up with. I am starting to seriously believe that the Chinese community in this part of town, or for that matter in any part of any town, walk around with a little chip on their shoulders. Yes, I know they know how to make money, how they like big mercedez cars, and how they act around, well, regular americans. All of a sudden they own Irvine, CA? Do not think so, last I check this was still the land of the free.
So a party of 9 people invited by moi, converged in the more expensive and slightly more gourmet and a tad more expensive,Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant. Special celebration. I returned after my not so congenial reviews about Sam Woo in general, because I thought that being more classy, and reading their intriguing seafood selections, perhaps this would be a nice place. Place closes at 11 PM, but at 8:30 PM (with previous reservations and an almost empty place besides us) they started acting like they want it us to rush and get the heck out of their place. Dishes asked for and served: Tamarind Seafood Soup $12.95 arrived barely warm, terrible start, already the staff showing their true colors, small ball, total rip off 2.5 Stars. West Lake Soup $9.95: this one was almost hot, made with thin beef and cilantro and cornstarch, 3.5 Stars.
Fried Shrimp wrapped in seaweed $4.95, crowd liked it, had to place 2 orders, 6 a piece. 4 Stars. These are considered appetizers.
Braised Pork Meatballs with cabbage and gravy $9.95, 6 meatballs? Not too shabby, 3.5 Stars.
Spicy Pepper Chicken with white meat $9.95, served with bell peppers, a little on the spicy side, onions, etc. 3.5 Stars.
Ribeye with Enoki Mushroom Roll $10.95, a real crowd pleaser, fastest to disappear, 4 Stars.
Deep Fried Fish with Spicy Salt $12.95, did not arrived crunchy which is supposed to be, fish bland, needed extra lemon squeezed heavily to enjoy, 3 Stars.
Deep Fried Fish Fillet with House Special Fish Sauce $12.95, this one came in nice amount, the special sauce a bright orange, mildly sweet but very nice and tasty, second fastest to go, 4 Stars for sure.
Scallops with Crispy Fried Milk, $17.95: the fried milk a revelation, was eaten faster than the very few scallops they put in the plate, fried milk tasted like fried donuts, 4 Stars!
Sautéed Shrimp & Squid with Celery and Snow Peas $17.95: a total bland, fiasco of a dish, was not even finished in the end, 2.5 Stars.
Hot Pot Steamed Chicken in Ginger Sauce $8.95?, this one very easy to eat, meat very soft and pleasant, lots of sauce in the pot, not very much chicken, 3.5 Stars.
Fish Fillet with Ginger and Scallion $12.50, so so, not too good, not too bad. 3 Stars.
Saute Bitter Melon Beef and Black Bean Sauce $13.95, not very appreciated, 3 Stars.
Halfway through our special celebration, service is all sitting at another table, cooks and staff, which is a clear sign that they are now eating because they are going home. Bill came as expected, desire to tip nicely completely gone. Fancy pants manager with a serious attitude problem. My brother told me right then that the last time they were in this same place, they told the manager that they were celebrating my father's B Day, and this son of a gun asked for ID. My brother never returned until I made this last invitation. If I would have known earlier of the ID moment, I would have gone somewhere else. Needless to say, service was mediocre and they got a mediocre response from my wallet. 3 Stars.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Luke17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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