30642 Santa Margarita Parkway #E105
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
(Across from City Hall)
I was down in Rancho Santa Margarita the other day running an errand during lunch time. After my errand I drove around RSM looking for a place to eat. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a sign that read, "Wan Fu China Bistro - Lunch for $4.95." I slammed on my brakes, spun my wheel to the right and pulled into a waiting space right in front of the restaurant. Then I noticed that it was 20 minute parking. I decided to leave my car there anyway because a $4.95 Chinese lunch can't really take that long, right?
My buddy and I walked through the front door of the restaurant. The decor in front is a little tacky, with things like a cheap toy parrot hanging over a small koi pond. The restaurant was only about 25% full so we were greeted and seated right away. The dining area of the restaurant looked much nicer than the entrance. A waterfall over a glass pane with their name on it added a nice element to the room.
I looked over the menu and saw that lunches here range from $4.95-$5.95. There were plenty of items at the $4.95 price. The lunches here include house salad, soup, a cream cheese wonton, an egg roll and your choice of white or fried rice. Since it was so cheap, and it also happened to be payday, I decided to be bad and order myself two lunches. Yes, I know I'm supposed to try and lose weight, but come on! It's only $4.95!
After careful consideration, I decided to get the Sweet and Sour Pork ($4.95) and the Szechuan Beef ($4.95). I asked for the Szechuan Beef "extra spicy." The person I was eating with decided to get Shrimp Lo Mein ($5.95). They offer the choice of either hot and sour or egg flower soup. I chose hot and sour. They told me that since I ordered two lunches, they would just bring me one large bowl instead of two small ones. I felt like such a fatty...
We started to munch on the bowl of fried noodles that was on the table already when we were seated. I started to wonder if they kept these bowls on the table all day and just refilled them when they were getting low. I looked around the restaurant. Some of the empty tables had noodles bowls on them and some didn't. I was wondering how many people's hands had been in this bowl before mine.... Before I could come to a decision, our soup arrived. The hot and sour soup was not the best I have ever had, but it was pretty damn good. Bold flavors most notably black pepper, made this soup a good decision. My only complaint was that it could have had a little stronger "sour" flavor.
After a few minutes, our entrees arrived, fresh and piping hot. I was happy to see that the portion size looked reasonable for the low price. The salad was your standard iceberg with a too strong ginger dressing. The cream cheese wonton was pretty good and the cabbage egg roll was strangely delicious. I also received two fried vegetables on each plate. One was a piece of broccoli and the other seemed to be a slice of potato. They were ok. Next I took a bite of the fried rice. If someone blindfolded me and fed me this fried rice, I would swear I was eating plain steamed rice. How do they do that? The rice is colored, so I know they must have at least put some soy sauce in. How do they take the flavor out?
Now on to the entrees. I took a bite of Sweet and Sour pork. It was fantastic. Now I'm not saying that it was gourmet, but compared to the sweet and sour pork that you'd get at a fast food Chinese place for $4.95, this was really good. The pork was fried and crispy and the sauce was just right. I would definitely order this again.
I moved on to the Szechuan Beef "extra spicy." This dish was bland, disappointing and not spicy at all. Limp pieces of beef were covered in a tasteless brown sauce and tossed with cooked carrots and celery. Blech. I didn't like this at all.
My dining companion seemed to enjoy his Shrimp Lo Mein. He said it tasted pretty good and would definitely order it again. I thought the Lo Mein portion looked a little small, considering that it's just noodles and it's $1 more than their other items. I understand that shrimp is more expensive, but I think they could have thrown some more noodles in there.
All in all the food was pretty good. If I return to Wan Fu, I will definitely order the Sweet and Sour pork again but avoid the Szechuan beef. We paid for our meal and I looked at my watch. It had taken a little over 20 minutes (probably closer to 30) but luckily there was no ticket on my car.