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“BEST Chinese food around!”
Review of O'mei Restaurant

O'mei Restaurant
Ranked #100 of 373 Restaurants in Santa Cruz
Price range: $0 - $20
Cuisines: Chinese
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
California
Level 5 Contributor
38 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“BEST Chinese food around!”
Reviewed February 21, 2012

Pricey but worth it! The food is any foodie's dream! Corn/shrimp dish is out of this world!

Helpful?
3 Thank capitolajules
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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66 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    26
    18
    6
    5
    11
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
California Coast
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Not Chinese but closer to China than most”
Reviewed February 17, 2012

Like the owner of Omei I have traveled a lot in the countryside of central China. A lot of what's served here is closer to actual Chinese food than you find in most Chinese restaurants, fresh, wholesome and interesting. You can't get a lot of the ingredients needed for real Chinese food here but O'mei gets very close to the real taste.

Helpful?
Thank etaoin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Loveland, Colorado
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Quality, taste, imagination ... a step above standard Chinese fare”
Reviewed September 10, 2011

I would describe myself as an experienced diner and relatively difficult to please, so have to agree with some of the other reviewers that I find it hard to believe O'Mei isn't rated higher. While Santa Cruz is not known for its great restaurants and superb dining experiences, O'Mei easily ranks among the T10 in the area overall. The menu is varied and imaginative, the food and ingredients of high quality and taste, the venue clean and well-lit. To compare O'Mei with other standard Chinese fare such as the others on this list is laughable because it is far and away above the crowd. It is not perfect, however. Like most Santa Cruz restaurants the quality of service leaves something to be desired, but that is expected in a small, college town. On our last visit we were seated promptly without a wait although the room was full. Shortly after, our waitperson offered a selection of small plates as we reviewed the menu, which is a nice touch. These small plates are a step above the typical appetizers and because they are offered on a tray it is easy to see exactly what you are getting. As with many Chinese restaurants, that is not always the case when attempting to decipher the entrees on the menu where it is difficult to envision what is often described in somewhat simple terms. Still, I am seldom disappointed and this visit was no exception. The bottom line is I would recommend O'Mei to anyone in the mood for Chinese, especially if your personal taste runs a little higher than average.

  • Visited August 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank NorCalBeachGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Cruz
Level 5 Contributor
92 reviews
72 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Tasty Food, marginal service”
Reviewed March 27, 2011

Chili oil dumplings and egg rolls were delicious as always. Tried some spicy dishes: Mongolian beef and Kung Pao Chicken. The beef was tasty and tender (lightly cooked). The chicken with Kung Pao sauce was tasty.
Service continues to be a problem here as there are too many tables for the number of servers so it can take quite a few minutes to get any attention. The servers were polite and knowledgeable but with so many tables, it was problematic.

  • Visited March 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank mrmikeSantaCruz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Cruz, California
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Those were the days . . .”
Reviewed September 27, 2010

I agree with all the other posters who miss the old O'mei. It really has gone downhill the last few years. Actually there have been several step-changes for the worse over the last decade or so. When I first started going there 15 years ago the dishes were unique and bold, every thing you tried had its own personality. The sichuan sliced beef appetizer had all sorts of peppercorns and other spices that put your mouth through a journey. The red oil dumplings were sweet savory and delicious. Chili fried rice with tiny bay shrimp and tiny sliced red chilies was another favorite. Rosemary chicken and black pepper beef also. Those were the glory days. The first step change was when they dicontinued the sichuan sliced beef. I think the chef left and took the recipe with him or her. Still there were enough other good things on the menu to keep us coming back. Then some of the small appetizer begatable dishes started becoming more average. Then it was inconsistent, some days were good, others not so much. Finally, about 2 years ago, they got an wentirely new kitchen staff that clearly had no clue how the old staff made the dishes. Items still had the same name (spicy carrot appetizer) , but were completely different. Then there's the mean lady everyone here's talking about, that seems to manage the place now. I guess all good things must come to an end.
Now I go to Shun Feng on River Street in Santa Cruz. Nice lady there, decent prices for SC in this day& age, and a few authentic chinese dishes. Salt and Pepper spareribs are great and they have a decent dim sum menu.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank hungryJoel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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