Upon arrival I noticed that it was quite busy – Sunday evenings aren’t traditionally a very busy night. A good sign. We were seated very quickly, and the hostess was very pleasant and welcoming. Our server arrived well within limits and brought fried wonton strips, along with duck sauce, and took our drink order. The strips were fresh – still warm. Another good sign.
I started reading the menu, I liked how it included a description of the dish – a nice touch, and it also helps someone not familiar with the cuisine in ordering – I also found that there were separate sections for Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean. This is a relatively new trend, and you’d better know what you’re doing in the kitchen to pull it off. Having never been there, I did what I usually do – attempt to try many items just to get a feel for how well (or not) they do things. Tonight it would be Chinese. If they can’t get this one right, there’s no reason to venture any further.
We started out with the pu pu tray – egg rolls, crab Rangoon, chicken wings, teriyaki beef strips, fried shrimp, fried wonton, and ribs. The egg rolls were very good – appeared to be made in house. Crab Rangoon was very good as well – better than most. The fried shrimp were jumbo as advertised, and had a good, bright flavor. The wings and teriyaki were very well done – both were well marinated, and had a lot of flavor – they actually take the time to do them right – something most places don’t bother with. Another thing that I noticed was that the fried appetizers were cooked perfectly, just the right color, and free of any excess grease. That shows me they use clean oil, and cook it properly. Impressive. As extremely well done as everything on that tray was, they were outshone by the ribs – when I first saw them, I was immediately reminded of the ribs that we used to get in one of our favorite places in Boston, and hoped that they would be close. I was not disappointed. They were cut babybacks, and fall-off-the-bone tender, seasoned with among other things soy, five spice, with a touch of honey. A very slight hint of light smoke was in the background. Excellent. I commented on the ribs to our server, who’s name was Leanh, and she told me that they actually smoked them for several hours (can’t actually remember how long she did say). The end result proved it.
On to the hot and sour soup –excellent, good hot/sour balance, and plenty of body. Not just a broth with a few pieces of tofu and an obligatory mushroom or two. This was loaded up with chicken, tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, carrots, peas, and garnished with scallion.
While we were waiting for our entree, I noticed how well the service staff tended to their tables – drinks were kept full, dirty plates were removed very quickly – if any server was walking by, and noticed an empty plate on a table – they removed it – it didn’t matter who’s table it was. That’s the way that it should be done
Next up was the entrée – Orange Beef – my acid test for a Chinese restaurant. One of my favorite dishes, and one that is more often than not improperly done. It arrived looking right, the sauce was extra hot as requested, and had a subtle orange flavor as well – not too much, and also not too thick. The texture of the meat was perfect – one of the key issues in preparing this dish – it has to be twice cooked – oil blanched and the fried again, letting the sauce rehydrate the beef. You can’t fake this, although a lot of places take the quick and lazy way out -and the results are obvious.
It was accompanied by steamed broccoli, and garnished with thin orange slices as well as white rice that were good as well.
During the course of conversation with Leanh, I told her that this was our first time, and we were impressed so far. She made a point of showing off some of their dishes as they were being brought to different tables, and everything that we saw looked very well done. I like someone that is that proud of their product, and enthusiastic about their food as well.
We have tried many Chinese restaurants since moving into the area, and this place is by far the best that we have found – quite possibly the best that we have eaten in since moving to Fl from the Boston area 26 years ago. This place is very well done – clean, tastefully decorated, and comfortable. The pricing is very fair. We have been to other Chinese restaurants in the area that were more expensive, but no where near as good. This place is definitely a keeper. Now the big issue – try the Vietnamese, Thai, or Korean the next time?
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