Tea from Leaves!

Buffalo News diner Janice Okun reviews Ming Cafe today. The charming little Chinese restaurant is located on the same block as Shango, across from UB South, and is well-known for odd opening times and great food.

Ms. Okun’s review reveals:

1. Ming Cafe makes its jasmine tea from actual tea leaves. Somehow, this is surprising or unusual.

2. Ming Cafe doesn’t offer all that sweet-and-sour crap you’re used to seeing on Chinese menus, but mixes it up a bit. Also, the menu is not “tomelike”.

3. She ordered Crab Rangoon, except it had shrimp and ricotta instead of crab and cream cheese. Shrimp Yangon?  She also ordered tofu and spinach dumplings, “fried as crisp as could be”.

4. Given a chance to order a really interesting escargot dish, she instead ordered Singapore noodles (found on every Chinese menu), and was surprised that it had curry. Singapore noodles is universally recognized as a vermicelli dish with meat, shrimp, veggies, all loaded with curry. It’s curried noodles – you can’t be “surprised” by the curry. This is akin to her being surprised that a muffuletta comes with an olive salad. Sichuan chicken, also found on just about every Chinese menu, was served with “medium” heat, on a bed of spinach.

5. Ms. Okun says the food and service were “excellent” and “very good”.  This doesn’t explain why she gives Ming only 3.5 stars under her unexplained scheme. On what basis is the half-star given? Everything was good based on the safe choices she made, and her surprise over something quite predictable.

6. The image accompanying the review features the owners, and a plate of beef tofu.

Based on the foregoing, I give this review only one and one-half okuns.

I am not at liberty to explain how I arrive at that figure.


  • But how big were the booths?

  • Ming’s doesn’t have booths, to my recollection. That’s probably where the last half-star went.

  • So this place is just a smidge below Rue Franklin (four stars) and one star better than the famed Valenti’s? Go figure.

  • You’re expecting TOO MUCH from Janice — you’re expecting pieces as engaging as…I dunno…Daily Kos. Well, ain’t gonna happen when “Okuns” is an anagram for Un-Kos.

  • @RaChaCha

    Somewhere Ward’s head just exploded.

  • Remember, she writes restaurant reviews for a crowd that argues over which east suburban tavern serves the best fish fry, judges Italian restaurants by the size of their spaghetti portions, and chases Chiavetta from fire hall to fire hall during the summer.

    The half-stars? She’s saving them up for her annual review of the Glen Iris Inn.

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