You might find a line in front of Marco Polo on a weekend night because it's one of the more popular places downtown. The wait can be ten or fifteen minutes, sometimes longer if you want a booth. The locals don't seem to mind though, they've been eating here for years and they know the food is worth it. Marco Polo is a Chinese/European restaurant. It sounds strange but this is how it works. One menu has traditional Asian fare like sweet and sour chicken and broccoli beef. The other menu is filled with recipes from the western hemisphere like fettuccine alfredo and beef stroganoff. There's also a lot of choices for vegetarians including veggie potstickers and veggie burgers. Looking around, some tables mixed the menus and were sharing food from both. I tried the Won Ton Soup for $7.95 and the Kung Pao Beef for $9.95. Both were full of flavor and freshness. The Kung Pao can be made to order as spicy as you like. The large portion is filled with juicy slices of steak, zucchini, mushrooms, celery, red peppers and topped with peanuts to give it a crunch. Piled over some rice I ate this mouth watering dish quickly. Made fresh, eating here for dinner is a much better way to go than the lunch buffet. The downside was the service was not as good as the meal. There seemed to be enough servers to handle the crowd in the small restaurant, but there were long waits between ordering, food service and the check. Getting a refill on some water was difficult. I'm curious to try more things on the menu but I think next time, I'll get it to go.
210 Liberty St. S.E.
Salem, OR 97306
Reviewed 11/25/07 by K&N
I'm kicking myself for not having the camera this evening. My husband and I, were going to try Tong King for dinner tonight, but when we could only see two cars parked in back we chickened out. We assumed the cars belonged to staff and didn't want to be the only patrons. We're weird that way. Since we were already primed to eat Chinese food, we drove downtown to Marco Polo. We started off with an appetizer named, "Samosa". Three fried, pastry, triangles arrived, filled with a combination of curried corn, potatoes and onion. They were hot and tasty with just enough curry to still enjoy the flavors of the vegetables and the thin pastry. We ordered their "Hot and Sour Shrimp" and "Beef Curry", to share for dinner. We asked for medium hot and that's just what we received. The shrimp dish was beautiful on the plate. Nice plump shrimp with broccoli florets that still had a little crunch in a sweet sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds. While it was delicious, I wish there had been just a little more of the "sour" flavor in the sauce. The "Beef Curry", was perfection, tender slices of beef, with chunks of potato, carrot, onion and roasted red pepper, in a flavorful curry sauce and white rice on the side. I'm ready to go again tomorrow. :>)
Review by Salem Man 6-29-07
I was put in an awkward position after my meal when I was taking pictures of the buffet. The manager asked "why are you taking a picture of our food." My reply was that I have a restaurant blog and Marco Polo was going to be reviewed. She then asked "was it good?" I said yes, but this was not true. I thought that the buffet wasn't very good at all. So why did I lie? Face to face it's difficult to tell someone that you are not satisfied with your meal. I'm sorry for my dishonesty, next time my reply will be "read my blog and find out."
Marco Polo was suggested by a reader of this blog who says that he eats there for the vegetarian dishes. They did have a nice selection of tofu and vegetable entrees in the buffet, I had the green beans and zucchini. That was probably the best part of my meal. The General Tso's Chicken was fatty and not very spicy. The Orange Pork was about the same. I also tried the meatloaf which seemed very odd in the buffet lineup and only took a few bites. Still hungry after the meal, I ate a delicious oatmeal cookie from the dessert tray. What I really wanted was the chocolate cake which they were out of.