John's Restaurant - Chinese Cuisine

After all of the recent posts about Chinese food, I found myself having a serious craving.  Normally these cravings drive me to Marco Polo, my tried and true Chinese restaurant.  But, after hearing for years about how fabulous John's Chinese Restaurant in Keizer was, we decided to give it a try.

The parking lot was packed when I arrived. Having taken separate cars, I found myself parking in the behind the building, in a dark, dark parking lot in the pouring rain.  It could definitely use some lights, would have eased some of the discomfort of walking through a pitch-black parking lot in the pouring rain with cars flying through the drive-thru.  Yes, John's has a drive-thru.  After cutting through the line of cars, holding my breath, hoping not to get hit, I made it to the front door.  The interior was a little run down and the waitress was not very friendly but in for a dime, in for a dozen.  I was seated and waited for my husband to join me.

While I waited, a different waitress eventually asked if I wanted tea.  I said yes and that we wanted to start with the combination appetizer platter (egg rolls, BBQ pork, crab puffs and fried shrimp).  I knew the husband was starving and I figured it would get to our table about the same time he did. When the husband arrived, the appetizer still hadn't and the original waitress who sat me came to take our order.  I got combination plate 7 (Kung Pao Chicken, Pork Fried Rice and Sweet and Sour Chicken) and the husband got combination plate 8 (Broccoli Beef, Pork Fried Rice and Fried Shrimp).  When our hot and sour soups (which were not spicy nor sour) arrived, the waitress said as she walked away that the other waitress forgot to put our appetizer order in and it would be a while.  Had she not been walking away when she told us, we would have canceled the order, given that an appetizer usually comes before the meal.

When our food arrived, it looked beautiful.  Alas, looks can be deceiving.  I found my food lacking any seasoning, actually having to add salt to Chinese food for the first time in my entire life.  The appetizers were over fried and the BBQ pork dry. The husband said his was alright, but it lacked any real seasoning.  Given the mountains of food on my plate, I took over half of it home knowing although I would not eat it, the husband probably would.  Which he did, which was my way of thanking him for walking me back to my car through the dark, rainy, hectic parking lot when we were done.

Overall, I was disappointed by John's.  The atmosphere was run down, the service wasn't great and the food was lacking in flavor.  Plus, I still have a craving for Chinese food.  Guess I better get to Marco Polo.

John Cuisine - Chinese Restaurant
4842 River Road N
Keizer, OR 97303

Monday - Thursday 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday: 11:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.


Chuck Bradley said...

She who must be obeyed and I have been to John’s a couple of times. Having labored through life under the false assumption that all Sweet and Sour pork batter was heavy and oily, I was all too happy to have John’s show me the light. (I’m sorry. Puns just leap from my lips!) There was no mistaking the fact that it was deep fried, but it was light and crisp. Delicious! The Egg Foo Young and Pork Fried Rice were also wonderful. My wife had Fried Shrimp, BBQ Pork and Chicken Subgum Chow Mein. Everything was just superb. Our server was courteous and friendly. We were just bowled over! We’ve also had Hot and Sour Soup, General Tao Chicken and Pork Fried Rice and Egg Rolls. Speaking of sweet and sour, there was a marked contrast between the quality of service between our first (delightful) and second visits. On our return trip, our server bordered on high pressure by trying to get us to hurry our orders. She apparently thought I was taking too long with the menu. She approached me three times before I was ready. Her manner became progressively brusque. I confess, I sometimes linger over a menu, but her behavior kind of wrecked the mood. I can’t speak to authenticity, but we think John’s has the tastiest Chinese food in Salem/Keizer.

Anonymous said...

I've only had take-out from John's--I went in, not through the drive through--and it was honestly the best chinese food in Salem/Keizer. I will say that sometimes my order took a little longer than I preferred to have to wait, but it was always worth it because it was sooo good. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. Give it another try as John's is 100% better than Blooming Cuisine just down the street.

Anonymous said...

I can say that John's has some of the best non-deep fried food around. In my opinion the best dish on the menu is the special chow mein sometimes i sub. beef for the shrimp. If your going to order sweet and sour pork with fried rice and complain then maybe you should stick to the safeway deli chinese fine dining. Heres a couple of things that your should try at johns. spicy mushroom chicken, kung pao chicken with tofu, spicy green been chicken or beef, won ton soup, bbq pork buns, teriyaki chicken, and not too mention they make some great kung pao chicken, beef or shrimp. I would try all of these with steamed rice. also the moo shu is very good. So if you want good chinese food I would try johns if you want salty greasy deep fried food I would try safeway.
If I have people visiting from San Francisco Johns is the only chinese food place that I take them to. They would just laugh at all of the other places in town. If your trying Johns for the first time Thursdays thur Saturday night form 6-9pm is diffently not the right time to go. Its very busy along with call in, take out orders. I usually try to go when its not so busy and I always have a great meal. If I have to go around those times I usually call ahead and order take out then use the drive thu very convenient. Also they have smaller plates dinner specials which are perfect for one person or the person who eats out every night.

Amber said...

Chuck and Anon #1 - I have heard so many good things over the years, hopefully this was just an off night. I don't mind restaurants having off nights, if the customer service is decent. Unfortunately, we got bad service in addition to bad food, so I am not in a hurry to go back.

Anon #2 - As I said in the review, I did get the Kung Pao chicken and it have very little flavor. I actually specifically ordered that combination plate because Kung Pao Chicken is my favorite dish to order at Chinese restaurants.

As far as what night we visited, we went on a Monday night, with only a handful of tables occupied, providing no excuse for bad service.

And, for the record, I am not a fan of Safeway's "Chinese" food either.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I agree with the original review here. Based on other things that I've read I tried John's and got a very basic stir fry dish. As with the original review, there was plenty of food, but it was not very flavorful. In fact, the best word I can use to describe it is "unremarkable." The service was acceptable but not sterling (I was there for take out). I've not been back since and don't intend to go back.

Chuck Bradley said...

I’m surprised by how much opinions vary on this place. I’ve lost count as to how many times I’ve been here. I have never had a bad meal at John’s. I took an ex-coworker here today for her birthday lunch. She had Deep Fried Shrimp and Pork Fried Rice. I had Spicy Chicken and Mushrooms. Both meals came with Pork Fried Rice. We both had Hot and Sour Soup. She was very happy with her meal. I was completely dazzled! I’d never tried this dish before, but I’ll sure order it again. I hedged a bit on the spice level choosing between medium and spicy. I will go for the gusto next time. The level of service you enjoy, or not, is entirely dependent upon which server you get. The younger of the two (with the Prince Valiant haircut) is a joy. The other one is………not. I’m sorry I don’t know the good one's name, but I ask for her station.