I love popular things. I love Harry Potter. I love Taylor Swift. I love judging celebrity children’s outfits. I’m not a hipster. I’m not some serial contrarian. Give me a good steak, or a good platter of oysters, or a good bowl of pho and I’m perfectly content. Why am I leading with all of this? Why am I in a bunker right now, hiding for my life? Because I need to tell the world what everyone in Silver Lake seems to be ignoring, likely at the risk of my own safety. Your it-spot? Pine and Crane? The “at long last a Chinese food spot on the East side!” savior to us all? It’s not very good.
But what about the insane lines?! What about the crowded, clean white family-style dining room?! That cool, hip Taiwanese food MUST have tasted at least decent, right? Sorry. You’re fooling yourself. It tasted bad. Well, not bad. But bland. And boring. And completely under-spiced on literally every dish.
We really wanted to love this place. It had potential, too. Located in a neighborhood in dire need of some good Chinese food options (instead of just three hundred Thai places), Pine and Crane struck at the perfect time. I mean, the lines tell the story. The lines also ruin the experience. Not only do they give you AMPLE time to build up your expectations for the food (which is going to let you down), but they also serve as a constant reminder while you’re eating to HURRY THE F*CK UP.
There’s no waiting room, no reservations, and no ordering until someone in the dining room leaves. This means every person spends their time in line staring at you while you eat, hoping that you’ll leave, so another person can order and take your seats, moving them one place closer to ordering themselves. The staff joins in on the fun, swooping in to clear plates as quick as humanly possible. None of this makes for a particularly pleasant experience.
But the lines were inevitable. If the food was good, the lines would slow to a manageable level and everything would be fine. Unless Silver Lake really is that delusional. Wait, what was that noise? Sh*t, they’re in the bunker. They’re here to kill me! Tell my mother I love her! AHHHHHH!!!!!!!
A good crunch on the outside, followed by a completely unsatisfying filling. Way too light on the spices and a totally one-note texture. That note is “mushy.” Not a great note.
Midway through this dish, we grabbed a massive dried chili from the bowl and ate it plain, just hoping to find some semblance of flavor in the dish. No such luck.
Is it wrong to expect more out of a place with a line out the door? Probably. This wonton noodle soup tasted like wonton noodle soup, and like all wonton noodle soups, it was fine. It was good. But seriously, why did I wait in line so long for this?