Friday, February 27, 2009

The Taste of Adventure

I think Dayton's scariest curiosity, our freak house of horrors, is Wah-Fu, the Chinese restaurant near Miami Valley Hospital and close to UD.

Everything about the restaurant indicates that the place should be shut-down. Wah-Fu's parking lot is rough and includes parking on a side lot that seems sketchy. The building's exterior needs repair. The inside looks like a gutted house with the kitchen in the back. The decor involves heavy doses of fake wood paneling and mismatched furniture. Between finding the place, having the courage to walk-in and surviving the shock of the interior, it is amazed that anyone stays. The prices do not inspire confidence, yet they are inviting. However, it is indisputable that if the place was deadly, it would not have survived for at least 10 years.

Wah-Fu is the best value of any restaurant in Dayton. There is not anything on the menu above $5. I had shrimp and snow peas, an egg roll, and a bowl of won ton soup for $4.85. That is unthinkable. It also helps build the spirit of adventure.

Pricing is an interesting subject in business. It is part of the marketing of a product or service because it affects how people view the product. Wah-Fu puts out a very impressive product at an incredible price. The meal that I ate would have been fairly priced at $8, plus tip. So, the $4.85 becomes part of the restaurant's story. What would the impression of Wah-Fu be if the meals cost $7.50? In one sense, the price is one of its draws. However, at the same time, the prices do not inspire confidence. It would be an interesting exercise in pricing strategy if the owners actually charged $7.50 for the meal that I ate. Of course, if the prices could improve their profit, they could reinvest the profit in fixing some of their other flaws.

I hope that they don't change.

The last time that I went, I went with a group of 12 people. Of the 12, I had been there once, another girl had been there regularly several years ago, and the other 10 had never been there. The luncheon took on the feel of an adventure and that brought us closer together. While people were scared about what was going to come out of the kitchen, they were reassured once the plates of food arrived. To quote a friend of mine without her knowledge, "I'm glad you and XXXX were brave enough to try out Wah-fu. I know I was pleasantly surprised."

Wah-fu is about more than the scary aesthetics and the pricing. It has really good food. It is not my favorite Chinese restaurant in Dayton but I think, in a blind taste test of random people, Wah-Fu would do kick some ass. They do the basics well and bring full flavor to their dishes.

Your final warning about Wah-Fu: They don't take credit cards.


  1. My friends and I would eat at the Fu occasionally when I went to UD and lived on Chambers Street. It was definitely an adventure, but worth the trip. Oh Fu, I miss you.

  2. Based on these comments and a few others on Yahoo restaurant reviews, I tried Wah-Fu. "They do the basics well", indeed. What an incredible bargain and a great value!! They make the some of the overpriced crap I've had at PF Chang's seem lame by comparison. You couldn't buy the groceries to make these meals for the prices that they charge. Heh, one of their signs looks like graffiti. :)

  3. I've been threatening for the past couple years to hit Wa-Fu. That place is insane. I think you've given me the courage to finally walk through their door. You should do a write up about Tony's on Wayne.


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