Menuplease at Sailing Boat: No Pop in the Pao

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Sailing Boat is still very popular after 14 years and consistently gets voted Best Chinese Restaurant in those polls certain publications run. The prices are low, servings are generous, the interior is clean and attractive, staff is friendly and service is quick. It’s very popular for banquets, parties, and meetings. George Yu is well-known and liked in the Redding area for sponsoring fundraisers and being an all-around nice guy who remembers customers’ names and hands out boxes of tea and cookies to regulars.

So if the owner was rude or had questionable personal hygiene or was known to frequent those kinky strip joints where the pandas and weasels run around in thongs and stilettos, it would be a lot easier to say the food at Sailing Boat is not very good. But the owner being a really nice guy doesn’t make up for tasteless and disappointing meals.

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Kung Pao Calamari, $7.95 at lunch, $11.95 at dinner.

All meals come with an egg roll – which is your standard egg roll with a saucer of sweet & sour sauce, hot mustard on the side – and chicken & corn soup. The corn soup was weirdly yellow and didn’t taste much like either chicken or corn. It needed some pepping up from a bit of soy sauce – which M. de Joie dislikes adding to prepared Chinese dishes except as a last resort – and chili paste.

There was no pow to the Kung Pao. For a dish that is supposed to be spicy, it was very mild and didn’t have much taste at all. Calamari doesn’t have a lot of flavor by itself and depends on the preparation to liven it up. This was a disappointingly bland mixture of frozen peas, carrots, and overcooked zucchini in an indifferent sauce.

You also get your choice of steamed rice or fried rice with each main. The best thing that can be said about the fried rice was that it was freshly made; it simply had no taste whatsoever. The steamed rice had been sitting for a while and was starting to get a not-quite crunchy surface.

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Pork with Hot Ginger-Garlic Sauce, $6.95 at lunch, $8.95 at dinner.

Usually a Szechuan- or Hunan-styled dish is prepared with whole dried chilis stir-fried in the wok with the other ingredients. Hot and Spicy pork was in a bland brownish sauce that gradually became a watery puddle on the plate, with no evidence whatsoever of chiles, ginger, or garlic. There was a sprinkling of pizza-parlor type pepper flakes mixed in. The pork bits seemed more steamed than stir-fried and tasted more like white-meat chicken than pork.

After these two meals, Femme de Joie complained to Amico del Signore and friend Coquille Moule that she was really not looking forward to her third meal.

“I don’t understand why it’s so popular. Why do people keep going there?”

“Habit,” said Coquille.

Amico de Signore asked, “Why are you going back there? You had two bad meals. Do you think the next one is going to be better?” It was a reasonable question.

“Because I am trying to be fair.”

Coquille Moule asked, “And what if the next meal is good? What will you say?”

“That it’s inconsistent.”

So Femme de Joie pulled up her Big Girl Panties and put on her Sunny Attitude and headed out to Sailing Boat once more.

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Hot and Sour Soup, $4.95.

The hot and sour soup had everything going for it: freshly made, loads of substantial vegetables, perfect consistency. Unfortunately the sour element was chokingly overwhelming – so much vinegar had been poured in at the last minute that after coughing and gasping through the first few spoonfuls, M. de Joie added all the sweet & sour sauce that had been brought with the egg roll in an attempt to neutralize the vinegar smell and taste. This was only partly successful. Pungent vinegar fumes continued to rise and block any savory smell and taste hot and sour soup ought to have.

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Almond chicken, $6.95 at lunch, $8.95 at dinner.

Almond chicken is M. de Joie’s favorite Cantonese dish, but again, this was simply tasteless. More frozen peas and carrots, overcooked zucchini, far too much celery, weird twists of tough, flavorless chicken. M. de Joie scooped up some of the rapidly-thinning sauce by itself: thin chicken broth only, no garlic, ginger, or soy sauce to flavor it.

After years of hearing how good Sailing Boat is, Femme de Joie is very disappointed in the food. While attractively presented and priced, preparation and execution is indifferent and even sloppy. Obviously Sailing Boat has legions of fans, but they must be seeing something M. de Joie doesn’t.

Sailing Boat, 2772 Churn Creek Road, Redding 96002. 530-222-6868. Open Monday-Friday, 11 AM – 9 PM, Saturday and Sunday noon – 9 PM. Beer and wine. Vegetarian and vegan options. Banquet facilities. Credit and debit cards; no checks. On-site parking.

Femme de Joie’s first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

Femme de Joie
Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.
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24 Responses

  1. Avatar RadioFreeJefferson says:

    I haven't been there in years, but it appears the consensus on Yelp is with you.

  2. Avatar mrmike says:

    We had the same experience twice in the past year – your willingness to go for a third try is admirable. Sailing Boat used to be on our list of favorites, but we won't be going there again until we hear that something major has changed in the kitchen. Too bad given the owner's reputation and community spirit.

  3. Avatar Jo Gifford says:

    I so agree with M de Joie.

  4. Avatar EasternShastaCounty says:

    Friends recommended Sailing Boat to us. We had lunch there once — and I'm afraid that was enough for all the reasons listed above. Yuet Bistro and Golden Lantern are now our favorites.

  5. Avatar Doug says:

    Ditto! However in my ballgame you only get two strikes.

  6. Avatar pmarshall says:

    "Femme", we used to take out for a number of years, but then decided tj

    here was too much salt and grease. Had lunch there a few weeks ago, and it seemed OK.

    Actually, we really like Chinese– of only we could find a really good one. The Airport has had a good reputation. Wondering how it is now?

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear pmarshall,

      It's been about two years since we visited Peter Chu's at the airport, when we had lunch while waiting for a flight. The staff knew we were on a schedule and got bonus points for making sure our food was served quickly. M. de Joie had Szechuan eggplant, which was wonderful; she doesn't recall now what Amico del Signore had but he liked it very much.

      We have never had a bad meal at New China (excellent won ton soup, hot and sour soup, and broccoli beef – next to Tops Sunset Market, Eureka Way at Buenaventura) or at Chu's Too in the Pine Street School. It's been over a year since M. de Joie visited Yuet Bistro (on Hartnell in the Raley's Shopping Center) but it was quite good at that time, especially the dim sum. Our friend Coquille Moule continues to report good things about it; she is fond of the beef in orange sauce (spicy hot).

      Cordially,

      Femme de Joie

  7. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    A friend keeps asking me to attend a certain professional group that has its monthly meeting at the Sail Boat. I have been a few times, but it is just not worth it. For $11 you get more food than you want to eat at a low quality that you can hardly choke it down. Family style plates are brought to each table and are only half eaten at the end. Presentation is completely missing as the ladled sauces drip down the sides all over the table clothes.

    Yuet is great for dim sum. New China is my personal favorite since is so close to work and home on this side of town.

  8. Avatar Pat j. says:

    Haven't been to Salling Boat for awhile, but was truly sorry to read all the poor reports. We have always ordered the * Hot & Spicy dishes and usually the server warns us and points out the hot peppers. I particularly enjoy the Lamb dishes so will give it a try soon.

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Pat,

      Yes, usually the hot & spicy dishes do include those (whole) hot peppers, but on three separate visits they used pepper flakes (and not very many of those).

      If you try Sailing Boat and feel that it has improved, please report back.

      Cordially,

      Femme de Joie

  9. Avatar Dustin says:

    I love New China!! Try the Sizzling Rice Soup! Good prices good food! Hard to beat.

  10. Avatar Anne says:

    M. de Joie,

    For a delicious meal and wonderful atmosphere – try Sakura Sushi. This place has existed quietly in Redding for many years. It is the real deal. Authentic, quality Japanese sushi and other items. Kenji is a humble, talented chef and is putting out a delicious meal in a nice place, for a reasonable price. It took me far too long to find this place. It's true, he doesn't work weekends. But he has his reasons, and that's ok with me. I have always had a great experience there, and have met many new friends at his sushi bar.

    1320 Placer St
    Redding, CA

  11. Avatar Coach Bob says:

    Coach Bob is not a great fan of the "Boat" but Coach Bob's comment is about the article itself….I quit reading after the 4th or 5th third-person reference of the writer. Bored Coach Bob to tears. Coach Bob just wishes you'd write. Simply write. Just Coach Bob's opinion….but I'd think most readers (I'm guessing) would get tired of, "CoachBob had the orange chicken, but CoachBob didn't like it….then CoachBob…..", etc, etc. Hey, I'm Coach Bob! This is what I have to say! … and Say It! Just say it.

    Thanks for reading this far.

    CoachBob

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Coach Bob,

      Femme de Joie humbly mimics Miss Manners, that arbiter of all subjects related to social intercourse, who finds it too self-aggrandizing to refer to herself in the first person. M. de Joie is much too shy and retiring to write in first person. The very thought gives her a case of the vapors. Being a gentleman, you will of course excuse her.

      Please excuse M. de Joie, as she has to go lie on her fainting couch.

      Cordially,

      Femme de Joie

  12. Avatar CoachBob says:

    Coach Bob appreciates the response. And the reference to Miss Manners. However, Coach Bob gave up reading Miss Manners for the very same reason as outlined above. Coach Bob finds it difficult to weed thru the good, meaty parts of the review because he stumbles over the 3rd person stuff all the time.

    So, Coach Bob requests that, when Femme de Joie arises from her fainting couch and recovers from those nasty vapors (shudder), please relay this message to her.

    Coach Bob thanks you for your timely response.

  13. Avatar Pat j. says:

    I always enjoy your articles!!! Ignore Coach Bob!!

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Pat j.,

      Thank you for your vote of confidence. Menuplease welcomes positive comments and even the grumpy ones, provided they are funny.

      Cordially,

      Femme de Joie

  14. Avatar Mary says:

    Peacock in Anderson is hands down the best. New China – I've only had take-out once, and I wasn't impressed.

  15. Avatar Donna says:

    Far East on Hilltop is authenic Chinese food and the best I have ever ate. The variety of foods is great when you order dinner for 2 or more. Plus, it is an old establishment same as Lim's Cafe, just hard to beat.

    I have ate at Sailing Boat and it's pretty good, but does not compare to Far East.

  16. Avatar Karen C says:

    With all due respect to Mary, Peacock in Anderson is IMHO is very poor. We went to a birthday party there last year, and the food was served cold and certainly not fresh. It all tasted like it came out of a can. I don't understandthe reason for poor food, with the huge amount of produce growers in the Redding area, why arren't more restaurants serving fresh produce. It is so much better and there is no need for all the over salted sauces to cover up bad tasting canned or frozen to long veggies.

  17. Avatar Barb says:

    There are two types of Chinese food in Redding. OLD SCHOOL: Lims and Far East…and then the pandering to Americans type…

    I absolutely crave the weird meaty egg foo young sauce at Lims and Far East. Its a specific flavor of my childhood I simply must have every once in awhile. Not to mention the owners of Far East are locals who are keeping the family business alive. You see the twins doing dishes and their big sister remembering what I drink. Husband and Wife in the kitchen banging out consistent dishes time and time again. They always take time to come to our table and catch up on our kids and lives. Not to mention the best breakfast in town!

    BUT…

    When I crave the OTHER Chinese, I love Jade Garden on Hilltop. AMAZING won ton soup. When I am sick, its the only thing I want. But when I want super fresh, lots of veggies, light sauces, I go to Peter Chus Skyroom. Never disappoints!