We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Great spot, but don't eat the food”
Review of Rice Bowl

Rice Bowl
Ranked #98 of 118 Restaurants in Lompoc
Cuisines: Chinese
Dining options: Delivery
Restaurant details
Dining options: Delivery
Reviewed January 5, 2010

This is one of the funkiest, oddest spots and it's worth going inside, but just don't eat there. Be forewarned - go but only to check the joint out. Order a soda or something safe.

My friend and I went there a couple of times just for this reason, because it's such a fun social study. When you walk in it's like going back 40-years into some seedy Chinese restaurant. We wanted to have some soup and sat at the counter, the nervous waitress (dressed like a nurse) came over and told us that we couldn't sit there. The owner doesn't let people eat at the counter. You can only sit there if you're waiting for "to-go" orders. Okidokie... There is a main jukebox and little jukeboxes at each table, they all have an "Out of Order" sign taped to them. There's a big tree centerpiece in the place and it's dark inside.

There was a sign in reference to their lunch buffet; according to the sign there was a six shrimp limit for the buffet. Wow - I've never been to a buffet that had written rules. Who monitors the customers for excessive shrimpage?

Quite an odd atmosphere. I don't know how they stay in business, it's usually empty when I've walked past the place. I was told that the owner owns the building, so I guess that explains how he is still open for business.

We ordered wonton soup and it was made with a beef broth. A brown broth. I've never had wonton soup with anything but a clear broth. It tasted okay. I was nervous about ordering anything else. I felt sorry for the waitress. I don't understand how she could stand working there. We left her a good tip, I hope the owner didn't take it.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2  Thank BadGoat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (19)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language

13 - 17 of 19 reviews

Reviewed December 22, 2009

I wanted to take my man to a quality chinese restaurant. I was sooo embarrassed. The food was SLOP. I was asked if I liked scallions, I said yes Biig mistake. My food was covered in them. As we got ready to leave with our food. We noticed baby cockroaches on the counter. GROSS!!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank ynvsistas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2009

I absolutely love asian food. And love is a gross understatement. So, when my beloved and I had a chance to go out to a nice dinner we were on the hunt for a good- no, GREAT chinese place. Since we had just moved to Lompoc, CA and didn't really know the area and it's restaurants, we called a friend of ours and asked for a recommendation....
Our friend (who shall remain nameless- since I still want to slap him) suggested Rice Bowl. He said, "I've never been there, but I've heard that it's really good." That's where the demise of our wonderful evening began.
We arrived at Rice Bowl and were a bit put off by the fact that it was a Friday night and the place was completely deserted. We should have ran- but I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt....
We walked in and were told to take any table we want by a toothless waitress in a dirty, old-school fifties waitress dress. (Complete with little headband with the white triangle on top...GAG.) Once we sat down, we ordered a couple beer and a hot sake- which was naturally delicious...one can't really mess up good beer or sake.
We ordered our food from a horribly vague menu and continued with our beverages and conversation....what was brought to us next defies words. We were served a plate of muck that resembled various leeched veggies and canned brown gravy with strips of beef that looked like it was actually shoe leather carved from the birkenstock of the bum that was sitting at the bar (and wouldn't stop staring at us- while, ironically only wearing one birkenstock).
As I sent the food back in abject horror- the waitress informed me that her boss would absolutely NOT refund my money- he just wasn't in that kind of business. So I then told her that this food was the "most horrific (expletive) that I had ever been served in my life!!!" She then chuckled and told us that it was just too bad. I have been in the service industry for nine years and I've never wanted to punch a server in the face more in my life.
So, naturally we headed out the door with still hungry/upset stomachs and completely enraged/in disbelief that a restaurant could treat guests so badly yet still be in business. Then, i started to wonder if Rice Bowl was actually a cover operation for something far more disgusting like human trafficking...I later found out that people in Lompoc have been asking that question since the eighties....GO FIGURE.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
5  Thank SheenaBeena
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 21, 2009

Some people in Lompoc love this place, but my wife and I were not impressed at all. It has a funky 50's diner atmosphere for a Chinese restaurant, but the food was seriously lacking. My wife and I had a chicken chow mein dish that was covered with a flavorless, corn starch goo which had been scorched. We made an attempt to eat it but just couldn't, got it boxed to go and deposited it in the trash can outside the door. We won't be going back. Its too bad, it is kind of a historical building and a family run business but they really need to work on the food.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank bigjimsladesbc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 19, 2008

I find the Rice Bowl to be a refreshing alternative to the chain restaurant mania that's overtaken our country! I've been eating here for 30+ years. It's all fresh, homemade and great food. Nothing pre-packaged. If you want to have a culinary trip to the 1950's, the Rice Bowl is the place. It's like a small town Chinese roadside diner you're parents might have pulled into in Noplace, USA 50 years ago. Same family running the place since the 1940's.

Speaking of the 1950's, the business itself is very retro with the giant tree in the dining room, juke boxes on each table and very funky decorations but I love it! I've always said that somebody from China would walk into this place and be clueless about the menu because it's thoroughly americanized.

1  Thank SchmoeJoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Been to Rice Bowl? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing