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Restaurant Reviews: A Quartet of Tastes
Fall Volume: 2000 Issue: 7(3) page(s): 29 and 30
Many readers recommend that we try a particular restaurant, Several have gone further and suggested a column for their contributions; yet others have offered their thoughts. Here is a sampling, a quartet of contributions, from folks whose expertise in evaluating Chinese food is not known but whose enthusiasm is. All but one of these eateries business cards are illustrated in the hard copy of this issue. Unfortunately, one reviewer did not send us the card of the restaurtant she reviewed.
Lynn Merklinger Greebler, an adult nurse practitioner from Little Neck in Queens writes about:
The fresh air of change and simple exterior belies amenities within, including an enormous aquarium that catches the eye when walking through the front door. So does the lighting, it is soft; and then there are the strains of classical music that impress. Adorning warm-colored walls are hangings of Chinese art and faces of Japanese geisha girls; they are lovely, too.
Typical Chinese fare such as Chicken with Broccoli and Sweet and Sour Pork are available, as are chef specialties. Try their Crispy Boneless Duck, Orange Beef, or Pinenuts Chicken, or ask for vegetarian counterparts containing wheat and soy products. These are available for many chicken, pork and beef selections. There are several tofu dishes on the menu including Buddha’s delight, a chef’s specialty. Get a seat and while waiting view the sushi bar and delight in the fresh beauties prepared by its chef in traditional garb.
Minced Chicken and Corn Soup is silky, has good mouth feel, and is a must. Make sure a companion wants it as it is only available for two. Spinach Wonton Soup is a good substitute. The Vegetarian Chicken, though different in taste than real chicken, has a 'meaty' texture and a delicious taste. The Vegetarian Lemon Chicken is light and flaky, with a distinctive but not overpowering lemon flavor. Vegetarian Sesame Beef’s chewy texture is enhanced by sesame seeds and distinguished by its mildly sweet sauce.
Caring service brings soup, rice, and appetizer on dishes with a simple Chinese design, whereas plates for the main course have no design. Chopsticks are available on request. In our party, one wanted sushi; it came exquisitely presented, each roll arranged symmetrically on the plate. The Chinese dishes arrived attractively plated, too. Loved the carrot shavings shaped like a rose and the lovely lettuce bed used for the Chinese entrées.
Individual portions are more than sufficient for one person. A light dessert of cookies, ice cream, pineapple or lychee is available, but no need, orange slices are always presented along with fortune cookies at meal’s end.
Delivery is free, but only in the neighborhood. Little Fu pleases my palate yet preserves my pocketbook. Its varied menu will beckon you, as it does me, to return again and again.
CHINA FUN RESTAURANT at 1239 2nd Avenue, New York NY, 10021; phone: 212 752-0810. writes Laura Brown who is preparing to be a teacher in the New York City school system, is one of her five top eateries. She advises that there is another China Fun at 1653 Broadway at 51st Street, but she has not tried that location. The following is only about their Second Avenue location where, she says, "Wonderful Crystal Dumplings on a leaf of cabbage sit in a miniaturized steamer. They come with a sauce that melts on contact with the tongue. I eat them and my heart melts, too." There are a few large shrimp wrapped in thin clear dough and shaped like balls. They and all dumplings are heavenly and worth tasting.: Co-founder and chef Dorothea Wu develops and enhances all dishes served here; she uses heritage and talent; the results delight all her customers. "They did me, too!"
General Tso’s Chicken with boneless dark meat, she writes, is "sauteed in a spicy-sweet brown sauce is great. White meat is available and a mite costlier, but I always chose the dark meat as it is juicy and better. There are so many options, all tasty and terrific on the in-house menu, different from the one for take-out. I contemplate hard because choosing requires selecting foods of Southern or Northern China, and that is difficult."
The southern in-house choices include Egg Custard, Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves, and the Chicken Fun Roll. "All are worth indulging in," se goes on, "The northern Chinese dishes such as Steamed Chicken Buns and the Chinese Sausage Buns catch many folks eye, bet they are always glad they do. From the dessert selections, we savor the Sesame Seed Pancakes or develop a taste for the Red Bean Buns. Their Chinese patrons seem to devour them with glee. On my next visit, I must try those Sesame Seed Peanut Butter Pancakes."
This restaurant she highly recommends has great food, prompt service, courteous waiters and waitresses, and best of all, prices that are reasonable and portions that are large. When you eat there, I know China Fun will have another loving Customer.
HUNAN GOURMET at 2035 Merrick Road, Merrick, New York; phone 516 378-2323. is an eatery Jamie Diamond, a Long Islander herself, writes about. She says she she adores it and calls it remarkable and more. She says, "This is a superb restaurant with a menu that offers a variety of fine Chinese cuisine and a full service bar available for those wanting a cocktail with dinner." For those preferring to eat at home, a take out menu is available with bigger portions and prices five percent less.
She writes that "After being seated, we enjoy crunchy Chinese noodles. Dipping them in the duck sauce enhances their flavor, it is a nice bite before the meal. For starters, their Steamed Dumplings are delicious, the meat somewhat pungent and the wrapping not to thick. One or two before a meal livens up the taste buds. A real kick is their Hot and Sour Soup. Be sure to ask for a glass of water before tasting. I also tried the Wonton Soup, but it was rather bland."
Teddy, the manager, makes recommendations for dinner and the Hunan Chicken he suggests is spectacular. An array of fresh colorful vegetables livened up this wonderful dish of chicken, crunchy carrots, snowpeas, and water chestnuts. A brown sweet and sour sauce gives it added flavor.
Walnut Shrimp, she goes on, "Sounded great but did not taste as imagined. Nevermind, I will definitely remember the Beef Chow Fun. Its tender strips of beef, crunchy Chinese vegetables and soft rice noodles made it absolutely divine. The Double Delight with cashew nuts was very tasty, the juicy pieces of chicken and bite size shrimp were yummy. What a combo! We ordered the Roast Pork Fried Rice on the side, it more than doubled our delight. and, for dessert we shared flavorful ice-creams. For those with a sweet tooth, try the almond cookies. There is also a cherry cake, not made on premises, and it was rather dry."
She goes on, "Good Chinese food can be hard to find. Not so at this restaurant that pleases all who visit. Will I return often for more good Chinese food? Definitely, I want to enjoy the chefs specialties many times over because this is a remarkable restaurant."
EMPIRE BUFFET at 225 Independence Plaza Rt. 25 Selden, New York; phone: 631 736-0888,, writes Noelle Dell’Italia, a registered dietitian, is a local buffet restaurant in Selden, New York; it has a Queens branch in Elmhurst at 74-17 Grand Avenue, as yet not tried. She does write that Chinese buffets are popping up at every corner. "At the Empire Buffet in Selden, folks enter a large room with vaulted ceilings and grand chandeliers. A friendly, well dressed host greets everyone at the door and leads them past the four buffet stations. This buffet has a tremendous variety of Chinese delights and foods of other cuisines. Beef, poultry, pork, and fish are prepared in so many different ways that even the pickiest eater will find something to enjoy. Barbecued spareribs, crab legs, and turkey rolled in bacon are but a three of their many selections; all post their names above them."
She recommends, "Start with the Hot and Sour Soup. It is packed with large strips of tofu and has just the right amount of spice. For the entrees, the Vegetable Mei Fun is a great choice; its thin noodles are lightly sauteed in oyster sauce with carrots, scallions, bean sprouts, and scrambled eggs. Also try Seafood Delight featuring shrimp, lobster, crab, broccoli, and baby corn in a creamy sauce. Sesame Chicken with its chucks of crispy chicken rolled in sesame seeds and smothered in the house special brown sauce is another delight."
"Many trips to each buffet station," she says, "is required to avoid missing things. One way to enjoy them all is to watch the employees constantly bringing out different items. After they do, go immediately to try them. Do not wait to catch a glimpse of the dessert buffet, because if you do. you will miss the sushi rolls, fresh clams, and piles of shrimp. No meal is complete without a few orange almond cookies, cheesecake, and an ice cream cone with strawberry and banana topping."
She continues, "This buffet favors deep frying. If you enjoy fried foods, come and have Shrimp Toast and Fried Chicken. Health nuts take heart, the owner is Jack Chen, and he is considering adding steamed vegetables to the line. He advises that should you want takeout, there are selections other than the buffet. To take foods home, you can pay by the pound and select from the buffet, or place a special order of what you want. In or take-out, food here is better than the average buffet."
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