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The Week in Yelp: How Yelpers Weather the Economy

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From the people who brought you The Week in Craig, one of the all time great uses of the internet, comes The Week in Yelp, wherein Amy Blair takes aim at the ridiculousness that is the world of Yelp. Her intrepid Yelp-surfing, and words, follow:

2008_01_yelp.jpgFor the first time in my entire adult life I have recently been making relatively sound financial decisions. I have a retirement account that actually grows! I have been regularly putting money into my savings account! My student loans will be paid off in the foreseeable future! My credit card debt is pretty low! Life is pretty great in these here economic times?err. (Insert scratching record sound effect here).

I'm totally fucked.

The price of food is skyrocketing, the basic act of filling your gas tank is an economic hardship, and people are losing their jobs and defaulting on their mortgages all over the place. The next thing you know everyone will be pulling their money out of the banks in droves (I've seen It's A Wonderful Life, I know how this works) and selling their babies on the black market while the horsemen of the apocalypse ride off into the sunset.

Thankfully, people, we have Yelp to help navigate us through these tough economic times. Need some ideas about how to get the biggest bang for your (semi-worthless) buck? Yelp to the rescue!

Take this review of Sushi Mac in Los Angeles. According to the astute reviewer, you can enjoy one million sushi rolls (a fuckin’ million pieces of sushi!) for the price of just four hundred thousand sushi rolls at “another place.” And why would you ever go anywhere else for a million pieces of sushi when you’re getting 43% savings over fair market value at good ol’ Sushi Mac? That’s just plain good sushi math, folks. And an excellent way to decide where to eat now that we’re all poor and our futures are in jeopardy and life is barely worth living. Sighs!

$2.75 for any dish (tax included). Compare that to your average sushi joint which runs about $7.00 a roll. Now I'm no math major, but that means you can get 5 things here for less than the price of 2 at another place. Or 10 for less than 4. Or 15 for less than 6. Or 1,000,000 for less than the price of 400,000.

Now, you may ask , what kind of quality is the sushi here? Well, that's hard to put an exact figure on it, but I'm going to go with 64%. Meaning the sushi here is 64% as good as the sushi you pay $7.00 a pop for. So, given these numbers, the sushi would be priced fairly at $4.48. Now in the State of California, you usually pay 8.5% tax, bumping that sushi up to $4.86. At a price of $2.75, you're getting a 43% savings over fair market value, a great deal any day of the week.

Now of course if you get sick from that sushi, then you're savings may go right down the toilet.

Of course, all that good math aside, you’ll probably wind up with the shits. (That’s the price you pay for failing to regulate economic over-speculation? Just a thought).


Ahem. Next we have a review of 69 Chinese Restaurant. No really, that’s what it’s called. And that’s what happens when the non-English speaking owner lets his thirteen year old son name the place (does anyone have any doubt that that’s what happened here?). Also, this place is “hyper-cheap.” True dat.

Well a coworker set up a trip to 69 right before we went to see one of our friends rock out at the Knitting Factory, and I have to say that it was a great time. The food is hyper-cheap, the waitstaff was chinatown animated, and the place has dollar bills for wallpaper!

Overall the food was quite good, I feel as though Wo Hop is better, but thats a near impossible standard to get away from. There was no complimentary tea but they loaded on the 'before meal crunchy things' and they weren't greasy. The fried rice was excellent and the sesame chicken and general tso's were both above average. Egg rolls were awesome and the Tsing-Taos were cheap!

All in all, a great time, I'm definitely glad I tried a new place in Chinatown.

Woaoaoa there?did he just say that they have wallpapered the interior in DOLLAR BILLS?! Well I’ll be damned. The American economy is in the crapper, and they are wallpapering a Chinese restaurant with American money? Call me crazy, but methinks I see some sort of cold war metaphor in there somewhere?

?which is never a good thing.

So what we have next is a great place in San Francisco to buy your vegetables on the cheap, since as we all know, when you’re down on your luck, fresh vegetables are the first thing to be struck from the food budget. Personally I don’t think I ate a vegetable once between 1999-2003. And I probably never will again!!!! (Queue the ominous movie music?).

Gotta love that Mexican music playing in the produce section!! Thats vegetable music by golly!! Always fresh produce at very cheap prices for my neighborhood. They open early and stay open late.
Also, Mexican music is vegetable music, by golly. Remember that.

Anywho, ever wonder how small restaurants and delis are going to be able to survive and remain open in the future?

Sometimes you need good fast food. Sometimes you need good food, fast. Most of the time, you just need something cheap and edible in a jiffy. Well, if it isn't Lee's slogan, it should be.

The food here aspires to mediocrity, but the sandwich makers here have got their act together. Order any of the sandwiches on the menu, hot or cold, and it will be ready in a matter of seconds. No time to ponder cheddar or Swiss; just tell the nice ladies behind the counter what you want and get the hell out of their way. A big, hot pastrami sandwich with cheese will set you back about $4.75. Definitely a bargain hunter's find in the Financial District.

There's a hot food bar and a salad bar at this location as well. It's got a strange mix of foods, from sushi and cold noodles to potato salad and hummus. I've tried a few things here, and, again, they're not spectacular, but they're relatively fresh. Hot food is kept hot, and cold food - cold, so do not send a health inspector here just yet.

My favorite thing at Lee's, believe it or not, is watching the cashiers do their thing. English majors they're not, but boy can they add! They tell you your total while shoving your food in a paper bag, and they have your change ready before you give them the money. I am pretty good at arithmetic, but their skills are truly impressive. They're awfully fast, but are they correct? Hmm, makes you think.

If hot/cold salad bar and sandwiches aren't enough, grab some fresh fruit, a cookie or a variety of other impulse food items (tiny chocolates, gum, mints, etc).

Next thing you know, your lunch just cost you $10.30, and you're wondering whether you could have gone some place better for less than that.

Skimmin’ off the top with their super quick “math skills” and sucking in the dummies with point-of-purchase impulse grabs. Welcome to the future, America! Yay!

—Amy Blair