Best Of MenuPages Reviews: Ben Pao Vs. Ben Pao

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We may not do reviews at MenuPages, but our legions of users are all over that. Here are two of interest.

There's nothing we like better than an utter, intractable disagreement. Especially one that we can capitalize for the purposes of filing blog posts. To whit, we noticed that a pair of seemingly contradictory reviews for Ben Pao, the LEYE Chinese joint in River North were submitted during the past week (it's the temporal proximity makes the whole situation compelling, of course). But as we dig beneath the surface, we realize that the reviews aren't contradictory at all - the aspirant looking up and the snob looking down see basically the same thing, but from polarized perspectives. Let us show you what we mean

The aspirant, "Sabrina," wrote this on 8/9:


Having lived 4 blocks from Chinatown my whole life Ive been to several Chinese Restaurants. Ben Pao is by far the best Chinese restaurant I have ever been too. The food is great the atmosphere is awesome. Above all its extremely clean. Its not located in Chinatown its downtown but its worth the drive.

and the snob, "Dave" responded (well, probably not) on 8/13:

The only dish I've had here that is well prepared is the eggplant with tofu. Everything else I've had is either corrupted by a desire to be 'gourmet' or 'upper crust' without the know-how to execute it or is just poorly done. Carelessly handled. I will not make the trip again. It's a faux-gourmet waste of space, a pretentious but mindless haven for the those who pretend to be adventurous.

Obviously, "Dave" is significantly more cultured and erudite than "Sabrina" (on grammar and word usage alone); Dave hates being patronized by (or patronizing, for that matter), corporate restaurant chains that sap the life out of a cuisine with Americanization and focus-groups and the like, while Sabrina is happy to have food that tastes good in a fancy-seeming restaurant and doesn't have all of Dave's elitist baggage to trip over before she can enjoy her dinner. Would Dave like this food more if he was eating it in a God-foresaken strip mall restaurant in a crappy suburb, served by indifferent waiters? It would be easy to say yes, but probably not at the prices that Ben Pao charges. Dave and Sabrina have different understandings of what constitutes value in a meal. Clearly, BP is not the place for the Daves of the world, but the Sabrinas are likely to have a fine time. You know who you are. This is why we don't copy edit the reviews - so much of the content is in the style.

Or maybe we've read way too much into this?

Ben Pao [MenuPages]
Ben Pao [Official Site]