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TemptAsian Cafe, Route 236 in West Alexandria


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#1 johnb

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 08:36 PM

A new star appears to have entered the Chinese restaurant firmament. TemptAsian, a rather non-descript place on Little River Turnpike, is the new home of Peter Chang, previously the chef at China Star, arguably the best local Sichuan restaurant at least until he left it several weeks ago. The menu follows the old China Star fairly closely--the Sichuan menu has 88 items in English and Chinese (there is also a Chinese-only first page with another 10 or so and a chalkboard on the wall with 7-8 more, also Chinese only). Be sure to get that menu, as there is also the usual American menu. Two visits, one with a group of 8, confirm that the quality is there, including the baby wontons, diced rabbit, ma po bean curd, Lake Windless prawns, fish with bean curd (or was it wheat gluten), etc. No weekly specials yet, and I'm not clear if these will be part of the new regime--remains to be seen. Apparently PC left CS because they were trying to have him do too many things he didn't wish to do--he has a freer hand in his new digs.

The place is at 6259 Little River Turnpike. It is immediately west of 395, in the same strip center as Grand Mart and Hee Been. It is in a little building close to LRT, across the parking lot from GM and facing it. FWIW, Washingtonian gives it a favorable review in the new (July) issue which also has some useful information.

#2 DonRocks

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 10:11 PM

It's nice to see a talented Chinese chef get the recognition he deserves, being publicized for "leaving restaurant X and going to restaurant Y." Can you guys name five other Chinese chefs in the Washington area? I cannot. Time to start a trend...

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#3 Basilgirl

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 09:25 AM

The Washingtonian review of Tempt Asian in Alexandria alludes to the fact that the chef formerly worked for the Chinese ambassador - which I think I read somewhere about China Star's chef. Anyway, several of the dishes mentioned sounded like what they used to have at China Star - particularly those amazing scallion pancake-balloons.

Guess I'll have to make a trip to Alexandria soon.

Edited to add that I should have looked further down at johnb's post :lol:

Edited by Basilgirl, 27 June 2005 - 09:27 AM.


#4 V.H.

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Posted 27 June 2005 - 09:40 AM

If you had to pick two or three dishes that really stand out for a first time try, what would you choose?

#5 V.H.

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 09:23 AM

Three coworkers and I went to TemptAsian yesterday for lunch. One of the coworkers doesn't enjoy spicy food, so everything we ordered was mild. We ordered the scallion pancakes and mini-wontons with chicken flavor to start, and split orders of the duck with sweet peas and pork with ferny vegetables for the entree. Having never been to China Star, we were not aware that the scallion pancakes were huge deep fried puffs of heavenly goodness. We only knew that they were being brought out to another table, and that we were getting an order of whatever they were. The dumplings in broth were fantastic, with little chunks of preserved turnip and dried shrimp floating in the broth. The bowl came with 12 dumplings, easy to share for a group and a bargain at $3 somethng. The duck with sweet peas was chunks of duck with sugar snap peas and carrots in a light sauce. The duck seemed like it might have been brined, according to my friend, before being poached. The meat was so flavorful and melt in your mouth tender. The pork with ferny vegetables was slivers of tender pork and dark brown shoots that look like what you get with bibimbap. It had the most amazing earthy flavor.

We're all good eaters and this was a substantial amount of food for the four of us. It was also a total bargain with the bill being about $30 with tax. They have American-Chinese lunch specials in case you go with people would would rather have that.

Two women sitting at a table nearby got up at the end of the meal to introduce themselves to the chef and gush over how much they loved his food at China Star and how happy they are that he's surfaced again. It looked like about half the folks in there were eating from the traditional menu, while the other half were eating from the American-Chinese menu. Food looked good all around.

#6 johnb

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Posted 29 June 2005 - 02:47 PM

Three coworkers and I went to TemptAsian yesterday for lunch. One of the coworkers doesn't enjoy spicy food, so everything we ordered was mild.  We ordered the scallion pancakes and mini-wontons with chicken flavor to start, and split orders of the duck with sweet peas and pork with ferny vegetables for the entree.  Having never been to China Star, we were not aware that the scallion pancakes were huge deep fried puffs of heavenly goodness.  We only knew that they were being brought out to another table, and that we were getting an order of whatever they were.  The dumplings in broth were fantastic, with little chunks of preserved turnip and dried shrimp floating in the broth.  The bowl came with 12 dumplings, easy to share for a group and a bargain at $3 somethng.  The duck with sweet peas was chunks of duck with sugar snap peas and carrots in a light sauce.  The duck seemed like it might have been brined, according to my friend, before being poached.  The meat was so flavorful and melt in your mouth tender.  The pork with ferny vegetables was slivers of tender pork and dark brown shoots that look like what you get with bibimbap.  It had the most amazing earthy flavor.


I went back today (third visit, also with three co-workers one of whom is so-so about spicy). We had the baby noodles both in chicken broth and hot & sour, and both were excellent in their own ways. Love those little dried shrimp. We also tried the fish rolls with cilantro, which I've often read good things about from the China Star days but had never tried. FANTASTIC, probably the best dish of the meal. For main courses we had the fish in bamboo basket which had been a special at CS, which everyone loved -- really great. We also happened to have the pork with ferny vegetables and General Somebody-or-others beef, both of which were good. All in all, a really good meal and even our not-too-hot co-worker was suitably impressed, I certain plan to go back and continue working through the menu.

BTW, Tom mentioned the place in his chat today. I would not be surprised to see both him and Todd doing reviews in the not-too-distant future.

#7 johnb

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Posted 21 July 2005 - 09:55 PM

If anybody is interested in trying TemptAsian with a convivial group, I have sent the e-mail below to a list of known food crazies, mostly chowhounds. If you'd like to join, please do so.


All:

I think it would be a good idea, and a noble chowhound pursuit, to work our way through TemptAsian's menu in some depth. This will require several visits--I've already made some, but there are 88 items on the Chinese menu, plus the wall board, plus the Chinese language page, so it's about 100 possibilities even without ever ordering from the Chinese-American menu which, who knows, may have a few gems too. And of course this is tough to try alone.

So here's my idea. Having consulted with some of you about the best day, I will plan to be at TemptAsian every Tuesday at 12:30 from now until, let's say, Labor Day. Anyone who has the time and interest is welcome to come. No need for e-mails etc., just show up. How ever many appear, we will order enough dishes for the group and will try whatever that turns out to be. If you come you can be sure there will be at least one other person there.

As far as I'm concerned, the more the merrier. So you are welcome to bring anyone else along you want so long as they are "chowish" and are prepared to join in adventurous Chinese eating. No General Tsao's Chicken please.

The only rule is that each time we should focus on things we haven't tried previously, although an occasional second evaluation of certain dishes may be necessary (wink wink).

This idea should in no way be allowed to impede us from our normal get togethers to try other places and things, which should continue as before.

John Binkley :wub: :P

Edited by johnb, 21 July 2005 - 10:10 PM.


#8 DonRocks

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 06:35 PM

I have but one word to say about TemptAsian's Roasted Fish With Green Onion:

BLOODY AWESOME!

Oops, sorry - that was two.
Rocks.

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#9 johnb

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Posted 02 August 2005 - 07:20 PM

I have but one word to say about TemptAsian's Roasted Fish With Green Onion:

BLOODY AWESOME!
Oops, sorry - that was two.
Rocks.

It may be their best dish, main dish anyway (those first course mini dumplings in spicy oil are awfully good). But if there's something better we will find it in a Tuesday lunch soon.

#10 crazeegirl

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 08:23 AM

I have but one word to say about TemptAsian's Roasted Fish With Green Onion:

BLOODY AWESOME!

Oops, sorry - that was two.
Rocks.

I should have ordered it!! I ordered the flounder with peppers last night and it was good but not bloody awesome. Next time~

#11 The Doctor

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 09:02 AM

I have but one word to say about TemptAsian's Roasted Fish With Green Onion:

BLOODY AWESOME!

Oops, sorry - that was two.
Rocks.

OK, supposing a total ignoramus goes to eat at TemptAsian.

Can I (oh, I mean he/she) sit down and say "I would like the Roasted Fish with Green Onion," and get it? Is this a weekly/monthly special that has to be ordered now, or is it on their permanent menu? And do I have to ask for a special Chinese menu to see this fish listed (hopefully an English version)?

I freely admit that I need to be educated on this subject, and I'm sure there'll be others visiting this forum down the road who should know what the routine is.

#12 johnb

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 09:48 AM

OK, supposing a total ignoramus goes to eat at TemptAsian.

Can I (oh, I mean he/she) sit down and say "I would like the Roasted Fish with Green Onion," and get it? Is this a weekly/monthly special that has to be ordered now, or is it on their permanent menu? And do I have to ask for a special Chinese menu to see this fish listed (hopefully an English version)?

I freely admit that I need to be educated on this subject, and I'm sure there'll be others visiting this forum down the road who should know what the routine is.

It is item # 65 on the Chinese menu, just above Lake Windless prawns (squid, or fish). It's a regular menu item at Temptasian, tho it was a special at China Star. The Chinese menu is mostly in both English and Chinese.

In general, ask for the Chinese menu and go to work. Your best bet as always is to look at what the Chinese people around you are eating and ask for that.

Better yet, join us next Tuesday at lunch and sample several things with a like-minded group.

#13 johnb

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 01:50 PM

Upon request, I am posting here the summaries that circulated after the first two "TemptAsian Tuesdays", the lunches that several of us are having every Tuesday at this place to try as much of the menu as we can. 10 showed up the first week and 17 yesterday, and all are welcome.

July 26

All:

We had our first Tuesday get-together at TemptAsian today, attended by a total of 10 hard-core chowhound types. We ordered three appetizers, the fish rolls with cilantro, five spice sliced beef (served room temp.), and baby wontons with chili oil (2 orders of each). All were delightful; the first two contained lots of cilantro, which appears to be one of chef Chang's core ingredients. We then moved on to eight main courses, seven from the regular Chinese menu and the eighth ordered by JamesG from the Chinese only page (Jump in water chicken, which turned out to be a tangy poached chicken served room temp.) They were all good; most were classic dishes which were excellent examples of their preparation. The highlights for me were the Tong Po roast pork with pine nuts which many Chinese groups have been spotted eating(you don't want to be on a diet for this one) and roasted fish with green onion ( a China Star special but on the regular menu at TA). We had one of the best dried string beans I've had, also fragrant beef stew in hot pot, Tong Po duck, great Ma Po bean curd, and shredded pork with garlic (again, one of the best of this dish ever). The dishes were spicy but none was overwhelmingly so--we'll have to have the heat turned up for a dish or two next week.

The check came to $12 each plus tip.

Chef Chang came out for applause from all and Chinese conversation with JamesG, which I think led to his promising to do some "special things" for us next week.

If you weren't there, we hope you'll make it to one of these soon. 12:30 every Tuesday through August at least

August 2

All:

We had our second Temptasian Tuesday yesterday. 17 attended.

This time James G helped work out the menu and gave a lot of leeway to the restaurant in the selections.

Here's what Chef Zhang ordered for us:

Coral Mandarin Fish
Chen Cang Beef with Steamed Buns
Loquat Shrimp
Sweet Pea Duck Strips
Mountain Town Chicken Strips
Salt-Pepper Eggplant
Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce

Then we (James mostly) added the following appetizers:

Dumplings with Hot-Sour Sauce
Pumpkin Cakes
Cold Wheat Gluten
Scallion Pancakes
Spicy Diced Rabbit

On the whole, it was another great meal. The biggest hit IMO was the Chen Cang Beef which was sort of a Chinese sloppy joe, and showed once again Chef Chang's mastery of cumin. Also very good was the mountain town chicken--spicy and even "fruity" in flavor. By far the biggest visual hit of all time was the coral fish. Tho in flavor it was similar to normal sweet and sour fish, it was spectacular to look at. You'll see it in the pictures. The loquat shrimp were also unique, sort of a pork? stuffed shrimp with loquat sauce. The dumplings and rabbit were the standouts in the appetizers, but all the apps were good. Overall, this meal was nowhere near as spicy as the first one (perhaps because the restaurant folks just can't believe we really want the hot stuff??), so we will be careful next week to get back to spicy and numbing dishes, and I expect some of these will be hot pots which Chef Chang does so well but were missing yesterday.

The total check was $14.50 plus tip, and everybody left full.

Here is a link to some photos James took.

photos: http://shuanglong.sm.../gallery/704189

Hope to see you all again next week, when the theme will be "some like it hot!"

#14 The Doctor

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 04:43 PM

Thank you John, your information was very helpful. You may not always realize it, but these posts are invaluable in terms of saving me hours and $$ in research. I'm looking forward to asking for the special menu!! (still not sure why they'd regularly not show half the menu to some of their customers, but what the hey, I'll play by their rules.)

Edited by The Doctor, 03 August 2005 - 04:44 PM.


#15 PandaHugga

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Posted 03 August 2005 - 08:23 PM

Hi there everone. I'm the "James G" to whom John B referred above; since I have been called a Panda Hugger (and worse) because of my Chinese affinities, I figured this would be a good nickname for me here.

In any event, the staff at this restaurant are very helpful, I find, and extremely eager to please their clientele. I think it may be necessary to express to them your intention to have authentic dishes in order to steer clear of the more Americanized dishes, but I hasten to remind people that not all authentic Sichuan dishes are meant to be incendiary or numbing. In my many visits to Sichuan I rarely experienced dishes (other than hotpot; that's another story) that was really too hot to eat, and I am confident that the dishes were not "dumbed down" for the foreigner.

If anyone needs any Chinese restaurant/menu help, I'm happy to oblige.

#16 V.H.

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 08:34 AM

Thanks for posting the descriptions and pictures! I walked in this past Tuesday just as your group was getting started but unfortunately had to take my lunch back to the office for a lunch meeting.

#17 Capital Icebox

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 12:48 PM

Thanks for posting the descriptions and pictures!  I walked in this past Tuesday just as your group was getting started but unfortunately had to take my lunch back to the office for a lunch meeting.

Kliman has a mouth-watering review of TemptAsian in this week's City Paper.
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#18 DonRocks

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 12:14 PM

Two visits, one with a group of 8, confirm that the quality is there, including the baby wontons, diced rabbit, ma po bean curd, Lake Windless prawns, fish with bean curd (or was it wheat gluten), etc. 

My mom snooped around and found my porn, so as retribution, I was less than candid when she asked if my Ma Po[rn] Bean Curd was spicy.

"A little."

"Do you think I'd like it?"

"Probably not."

"Do you think it would kill me to try one piece?"

I put a tiny piece of tofu on her plate (alongside her beef with broccoli and lemon chicken). She ate it.

"Oh God."

<several more seconds pass>

"Oh my Lord."

<several more seconds pass>

"Oh my Lord!"

I'm not sure where Peter Chang was before he cooked at China Star, but may I safely assume that he's not the same P. Chang who came up with this dish?

Cheers,
Rocks.

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#19 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 01:59 PM

I'm not sure where Peter Chang was before he cooked at China Star, but may I safely assume that he's not the same P. Chang who came up with this dish?

Cheers,
Rocks.

This gives me an idea for a new Food Network series entitled "Fugitive Chef."

edited to add: and that would make a pretty nifty screen name as well.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux, 13 August 2005 - 03:32 PM.

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#20 giant shrimp

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 02:28 PM

the meatballs were enormous and fell apart as our table reached for them. the children found the steamed dumplings more reassuring, but they are just about the last reason for finding this place. i haven't seen so much chaos in a long time and am still savoring new flavors in the many containers we carried home. the chili oil washed out of our clothing without a trace. by the way, i am wondering if there is anyplace left in chinatown that still knows what do do with duck blood, how to stuff chittlins with shrimp paste, stir fry tofu with black beans into a custard or line up frog legs like the limbs of graceful ballerinas in degas? i gave up looking some time ago.

#21 perrik

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 07:34 PM

I have but one word to say about TemptAsian's Roasted Fish With Green Onion:

BLOODY AWESOME!

Oops, sorry - that was two.
Rocks.


Finally managed to drag my husband to TemptAsian, after having dragged him several times to China Star (60 mile roundtrip from our house in northern Silver Spring). I ordered the baby wontons in spicy & sour sauce (not as spicy as the CS version was, darn it), sliced pork in garlic sauce (this is called fish-fragrant flavor, right?), spinach sauteed in garlic, and that roasted fish with green onion.

My husband is not terribly interested in food, nor is his palate particularly sophisticated. Given the choice, he would live on Hot Pockets and crackers with aerosol cheese. Even he raved about the fish. It was, indeed, bloody awesome.

Alas, the Chen Cang Beef (my husband's former favorite) is not on the TA menu, and I don't recall it being on the specials. Can we beg Chef Cheng to bring it back? (I asked the waitress and she had no idea what I was talking about)

Hopefully I'll be able to make it to the next Tuesday luncheon... because by then the leftovers from tonight will be all gone.

Perri Kennedy
I'm filled with pork. Or shrimp. Or pork and shrimp.


#22 PandaHugga

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 10:34 PM

I managed to persuade Chef Zhang to make the Chen Cang beef for the lunch that we held on August 2 at the restaurant, and I impressed on him that it was a very popular dish among our crowd. Perhaps he will bring it back before long. Also, he said that if you call a day in advance or so and tell him you'd like it, he'll make it for you, so that could be an option for you. (If you do call, make sure to pronounce "cang" as "tsang" and not "kang".)

#23 johnb

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 04:32 PM

For any who may be interested, here is my brief report on today's lunch at TemptAsian, the fourth in our series:


Seventeen of us showed up today, in spite of the questionable weather, to further sample Temptasian's menu. It was great to see some new faces, including some from Don Rockwell's group and from the Washington Wine and Cheese group, along with Tyler Cowen who needs no introduction.

We tried four apps and seven mains, mostly old favorites and suggestions from Todd Kliman's recent column. Among the apps, highlights for me were the old favorite baby wontons and fish-cilantro rolls, and especially the spicy beef roll which was fragrant sliced beef and shredded veggies wrapped up and fried, a bit reminicent of a Vietnamese banh mi. The chicken in cilantro sauce was no slacker either.

The mains included two old favorites: Tong Po pork and roasted fish with green onion. What is left to say? New dishes included three Kliman picks: fish with sour mustard greens (greens were more sweet than sour and excellent), fried sliced beef in dried pot (??) which was beef done similarly to the roasted fish, ie with cumin and green chili and served over a flame (so good), and General Tsao boneless duck, which apparently was very good but I can't say for sure because it never made it to my table so we'll order it again next week thank you very much. We rounded out the menu with Kung pao chicken and shredded pork with ferny vegetable, both nice if not spectacular.

Chef Chang once again sent out a nice dessert, this time a sweet corn "soup" with tiny rice (I think) dumplings and a very subtle spice.

The cost was $14 per person all in. We couldn't eat it all, so Bruce's life was saved since his wife had said "no leftovers, dog house for you big guy."

Before leaving I asked some questions about the untranslated wallboard menu and even about good things on the American Chinese menu, so next week we may be able to branch out just a bit. Hope to see all of you once again. Only two more Tuesdays until Labor Day.

#24 crackers

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 05:04 PM

We tried four apps and seven mains, mostly old favorites and suggestions from Todd Kliman's recent column.  Among the apps, highlights for me were the old favorite baby wontons and fish-cilantro rolls, and especially the spicy beef roll which was fragrant sliced beef and shredded veggies wrapped up and fried, a bit reminicent of a Vietnamese banh mi.  The chicken in cilantro sauce was no slacker either.
The mains included two old favorites:  Tong Po pork and roasted fish with green onion.  What is left to say?  New dishes included three Kliman picks:  fish with sour mustard greens (greens were more sweet than sour and excellent), fried sliced beef in dried pot (??) which was beef done similarly to the roasted fish, ie with cumin and green chili and served over a flame (so good), and General Tsao boneless duck, which apparently was very good but I can't say for sure because it never made it to my table so we'll order it again next week thank you very much.  We rounded out the menu with Kung pao chicken and shredded pork with ferny vegetable, both nice if not spectacular.

Thank you John for your expert ordering. Here are some photos to go along with John's commentary:
fish cilantro rolls:Fish_Rolls2_TemptAsian__8_16_05_002.jpg baby wontons with chili oilMini_wontons_with_chili_oil_TemptAsian__8_16_05_003.jpg simple chicken with cilantro sauce:Simple_chicken_with_scallion_sauce_TemptAsian__8_16_05_004.jpg
Tong Po pork (like pork belly) with steamed buns:Pork_belly_with_steam_buns_TemptAsian__8_16_05_007.jpg fried sliced beef in dried pot:Sliced_Beef_in_Dry_Pot_TemptAsian__8_16_05_005.jpg
Shredded pork with "ferny" vegetable:shredded_meat_with_straw_TemptAsian__8_16_05_010.jpg

Edited by crackers, 16 August 2005 - 05:05 PM.

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#25 StephenB

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 05:47 PM

Thanks goodness I was there! Becaue if I hadn't been, Crackers's evocative pictures would drive me bonkers with longing. John B, with the collaboration of our colleague James and Chef Chang, has put together a series of feasts that would have been unthinkable for smaller groups. And next week we're going to have shrimp in garlic sauce, which is my favorite thing in the world. This has been nothing less than a great series of lunches.
--What say you to a piece of beef and mustard?
--Why then the beef, and let the mustard rest.
--Nay, then I will not; you shall have the mustard,
Or else you get no beef of Grumio.
--Why then the mustard without the beef.
_________________Taming of the Shrew

Conscience freed from every clog,
Mahometans eat up the hog.
________________ William Cowper, 1779

#26 perrik

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 05:56 PM

I wasn't able to make it, and the photos indeed have driven me bonkers with longing! The fish rolls have been on the "must try" list for quite some time.

Perri Kennedy
I'm filled with pork. Or shrimp. Or pork and shrimp.


#27 PandaHugga

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Posted 16 August 2005 - 08:41 PM

Alas I wound up having to have a working lunch (at Kaz Sushi Bistro in DC) so could not make it today. That fried beef in something or other is a great dish, and one that I have not had in a while. I am going to try very very hard to make it to next week's outing if at all possible, as my last hurrah before a month away.

#28 johnb

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Posted 18 August 2005 - 10:05 PM

Alas I wound up having to have a working lunch (at Kaz Sushi Bistro in DC) so could not make it today.  That fried beef in something or other is a great dish, and one that I have not had in a while.  I am going to try very very hard to make it to next week's outing if at all possible, as my last hurrah before a month away.

It appears Sietsema's review this Sunday is TemptAsian. Here's the link

http://www.washingto...file&id=1114594

We have two more Tuesday lunches in our series

#29 hillvalley

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Posted 18 August 2005 - 10:41 PM

Ummmm, the feeling in my tounge is just starting to return. Beef jerky anyone? :P
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#30 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 09:25 AM

Ummmm, the feeling in my tonger is just starting to return.  Beef jerky anyone?  :P

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#31 mdt

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 09:28 AM

Ummmm, the feeling in my tounge is just starting to return.  Beef jerky anyone?  :P

That was the most, uh...interesting, sensation I have ever gotten from a dish of food.

#32 DonRocks

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 10:00 AM

That was the most, uh...interesting, sensation I have ever gotten from a dish of food.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled use of capiscum.

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#33 mdt

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 10:15 AM

We now return you to your regularly scheduled use of capiscum.

Why am I afraid that you were able to find a link like that? It obviously does not work for everyone, right JG? :P

#34 CrescentFresh

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 11:10 AM

A handful of us went to check out TemptAsian last night to see if it was, indeed, truthful about this being some of the best Chinese food around. And supposedly quite authentic and not made to soothe American tastes. Let's face it, EVERY Chinese restaurant even has miniburgers these days!

It's located in a really interesting strip mall on Little River Turnpike in Alexandria, right next to I-395, with an international food market across the way, and right next door to Mama's Old-Time Peruvian Chicken Roasters. Knock down the wall between the kitchens and you'll have yourself a helluva fusion joint. (Merkado anyone?)

The six of us were seated at a round table, in a far off corner of the restaurant where, I presume, we wouldn't disturb the other guests. After being poured water and cans of soda (no beer, wine or booze yet, which disturbed JG enough that he left the table briefly to consult with the owners about a rush filing for a license. Always the hammerhead, JG. :P ) we settled in with our menus while being slowly soothed to sleep by Dvorak's "New World" Symphony blaring over the speakers.

We started with a selection of appetizers, hot and sour soup, fried dumplings, shrimp toast and beef on stick. Beef on stick was, true to its name, just that, a big stick LOADED with beef covered with what we now have learned is the main ingredient in an aid for lovers. (See DonRocks post slightly above this one.) Yes, your tongue will feel fuzzy after eating and that fuzziness will carry into subsequent dishes. The great benefit being that you learn how to make better use of your other senses while eating, because your taste is dead. It was kind of like sensitivity training to make you feel what it's like for the truly tasteless and what it's like for them to go through their everyday life. It became even more difficult a little further into the meal when hillvalley told a particularly hilarious joke while we were eating the hot and sour soup. Let's just say we weren't able to use our sense of smell after that. We also had to get a delivery of extra napkins. We then enjoyed listening to the fried dumplings and shimp toast which came out on sizzling plates.

We moved onto entrees, which consisted of Moo Shi Pork, Moo Shi Chicken, Moo Shi Shrimp (mdt has sworn off pork for a little while, but he really wanted to try the Moo Shi and we had to order the third one in order to get enough pancakes), beef with broccoli, which was my +1's idea because she's working her way back from being a vegetarian and this is a good way to plant feet in both worlds, and "Happy Family," which MelGold ordered because she said it reminded her of her childhood in South Carolina. The explanation for that didn't make sense to ANY of us, but we went with it anyway because she was so sincere and reflective.

My favorite out of the bunch was the Moo Shi. All of them. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a HUGE cabbage fan, and these guys have it down. Just the right amount of crispness and softness. Dare I say....al dente? Gave the right amount of body to the dish. The pancakes though! Wow. If you thought you've had good moo shi pancakes, think again, and run, don't walk, to TemptAsian.

The staff was very attentive and very kind, treating us almost like regulars. They said that simply because of the size of our order, they gave us a free order of this cheese and crabmeat concoction that was put into a wonton wrapper and deep fried, as well as some chicken fried rice (which hillvalley refused to eat claiming that fried rice is less healthy for you than lo mein! Whatever.) I don't know whether the crabmeat was local or not (I hope it wasn't Phillips! :wub: ) and it was difficult to find out from the staff because every time we asked where the crab was from they said "they come from the water."

The fortune cookies were kind of lame though. They all said "We also have delivery" and gave the same lottery numbers. One of the things we thought was great about the meal was the price. We got out of there absolutely stuffed for only $15 a person. Granted, we were down two senses, but at prices like that who cares??!!! We need to make this a regular stop on the DR.com circuit.

Edited to add: We were not given a 90 minute time limit, which was pretty cool. So once they do get their beer and wine license......look out Ray's the Steaks!

Edited by CrescentFresh, 19 August 2005 - 11:26 AM.

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#35 perrik

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 06:33 PM

Oh, for crying out loud... how could you make a journey to TemptAsian and not try their famous sweet & sour pork? I'm also fond of their "moo" goo gai pan, although I never could get our waitress to explain why they named it that when it doesn't even contain any beef.

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#36 ScotteeM

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 01:52 PM

I finally talked Mr. S into lunching at TemptAsian today, and boy was he surprised!

He'd never had the scallion pancakes, but when I tried to order them, the server said they were "out of them". I started looking at the menu again and he pointed to Triple Stuffed Tofu as an alternative on the dim sum menu. We ordered that, the Spicy & Sour Baby Wontons, the Tong Po Pork, and the Salt & Pepper Shrimp (from the pages in the back printed in color).

The triple-stuffed tofu is not something I would have gravitated to on the menu, but in the end I was glad we got that instead of the pancakes. Much as I love the pancakes, the tofu dim sum was a real revelation. It was a thin layer of tofu wrapped around sticky rice, diced mushrooms, and meat (pork? beef?). The flavors were intricate and deep, and we almost fought over the third piece, finally splitting it down the middle.

The baby wontons made our eyes water just a little--we're both wimps when it comes to hot peppers. Again, the richness and depth of texture and flavor we got biting into the wontons was thrilling--and we love those little dried shrimp!

The salt & pepper shrimp were in the shell, head on, deep fried in a salt batter with sliced fried garlic and a bed of chili pepper slices on the bottom. It was beautifully presented on a bed of lettuce, and perfect for us because I could skip the peppers and Mr. S could add them to his.

The Tong Po Pork was a surprise. I'm sure the menu says it is with pine nuts, but there wasn't a pine nut in sight. It matched the photo earlier in this thread--a beautiful presentation of the terra-cotta-shaded pork belly and sauce in the center of the plate, surrounded by bright green steamed broccoli, and snowy steamed buns around the border. Pork belly is not something that Americans tend to think of as edible, let alone healthy (although we have no problem with bacon). Mr. S was hesitant at first, but I showed him how to cut straight through with the edge of the fork (OK, we're chopstick wimps, too, although we both can handle them), getting some of each layer with a little of the steamed bun. Yummalicious!

I'm so excited that I may be able to attend this Tuesday's lunch there--my boss is out of town! I can't wait to try more dishes! I just hope you all won't mind wimpy me tagging along. :P

Mr. S was eyeing all the plates on tables around us, deciding what to have next time.

We just beat the lunch rush in at 12:15, and the restaurant filled soon after we were seated. With just about every table filled, I think we were one of only 2 non-Asian groups in the place.

A word of caution: When we went, the Grand Mart was very busy, and the parking lot was a little intimidating. We managed to find a space on the periphery, near an exit, so we didn't have to sit for 10 minutes or so waiting to exit the lot. :P

I also dragged Mr. S into Grand Mart, which he found a little claustrophobic, but impressive nonetheless. Funny--I usually do get panicked in places that crowded, but somehow GM doesn't bother me that way.

Time for a nap after that lunch! :wub:

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#37 lackadaisi

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 09:43 AM

We just beat the lunch rush in at 12:15, and the restaurant filled soon after we were seated.  With just about every table filled, I think we were one of only 2 non-Asian groups in the place.

My husband and I were the other non-asian table. It was the first time for us, and it certainly will not be the last. I have never really liked Chinese food - yes, even Full Key. But, this was amazing. We had a spicy fish and Spicy Emperor Duck. Both were delicious. But, everything being served around us looked amazing as well. I will definitely be back soon.

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#38 crackers

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 01:38 PM

hot and sour soup, fried dumplings, shrimp toast and beef on stick, Moo Shi Pork, Moo Shi Chicken, Moo Shi Shrimp, beef with broccoli, "Happy Family," cheese and crabmeat concoction that was put into a wonton wrapper and deep fried, and chicken fried rice

Something about this smells fishy. And not the roasted fish with peppers kind of fishy either. Are you sure you were in the right TemptAsian? Maybe the nav system led you astray. :P

Edited by crackers, 22 August 2005 - 10:00 PM.

Tequila, scorpion honey, harsh dew of the doglands, essence of Aztec, crema de cacti; tequila, oily and thermal like the sun in solution; tequila, liquid geometry of passion; Tequila, the buzzard god who copulates in midair with the ascending souls of dying virgins; tequila, firebug in the house of good taste; O tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion and mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate!

#39 PandaHugga

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Posted 22 August 2005 - 09:24 PM

I have never really liked Chinese food - yes, even Full Key.


What other Chinese restaurants have you been to? I am also not a big fan of Full Kee (though it has lately started to grow on me), largely because Cantonese cuisine tends to leave me a bit cold. I far prefer Sichuan, Hunan and (especially) Guizhou cuisine, with their abundant use of chilies and big flavors. Have you tried China Star? What was it about TemptAsian that you liked?

#40 jparrott

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 03:50 AM

More generally, I think we do each of the chinese regional cuisines a disservice by lumping them together. I love Cantonese food for its subtlety when done well (there are some very good Cantonese restaurants in this area), but it's more like Vietnamese than it is like Sichuan.

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#41 lackadaisi

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 03:50 PM

What other Chinese restaurants have you been to?  I am also not a big fan of Full Kee (though it has lately started to grow on me), largely because Cantonese cuisine tends to leave me a bit cold.  I far prefer Sichuan, Hunan and (especially) Guizhou cuisine, with their abundant use of chilies and big flavors.  Have you tried China Star?  What was it about TemptAsian that you liked?

I guess nowhere that I have liked. I have not been to China Star. I particular liked the flavor in the spices; everything seemed to have a very complicated, but not busy flavor.

"Well, it's business drunk. It's like rich drunk, either way it's legal to drive."-Jack Donaghy


#42 ScotteeM

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 09:14 PM

I managed to get away from work to attend the lunch that John B organized for today.

I'll sum it up in one word.

WOW!!!!!

The aforementioned beef jerky was one of the 4 appetizers we consumed. I thought it was delicious.

So were the salty duck, the smoked fish, and the hot spicy oil chow foon.

John B waxes rhapsodic about all the food, including the entrees. I'll just say that I loved everything! The scallops with Chinese squash were exquisite. The Chen Tsang Beef (?) was fun and delicious. The garlic shrimp was wonderful, and the General Tso's duck was unbelievably fabulous. OK, I'm running out of superlatives, and I haven't even mentioned the stir-fried eggplant, which was crisp-fragile like glass on the outside and smooth like a custard inside.

As I said before, WOW!!!!!

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#43 johnb

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 09:26 PM

I managed to get away from work to attend the lunch that John B organized for today.

I'll sum it up in one word.

WOW!!!!!

The aforementioned beef jerky was one of the 4 appetizers we consumed.  I thought it was delicious.

So were the salty duck, the smoked fish, and the hot spicy oil chow foon.

John B waxes rhapsodic about all the food, including the entrees.  I'll just say that I loved everything!  The scallops with Chinese squash were exquisite.  The Chen Tsang Beef (?) was fun and delicious.  The garlic shrimp was wonderful, and the General Tso's duck was unbelievably fabulous.  OK, I'm running out of superlatives, and I haven't even mentioned the stir-fried eggplant, which was crisp-fragile like glass on the outside and smooth like a custard inside.

As I said before, WOW!!!!!

ScotteeM


I'm not sure how rhapsodic it was, but here's my report,circulated by e-mail earlier, on today's lunch

<<A small but convivial group of nine chowhounds and one chowpup gathered today for the fifth, and penultimate, meeting in our series. In spite of its small size, we saw two new faces in the group.

Like last week, we did four apps and seven mains, but only one order of each, which was plenty. Our four apps included (as always, numbers refer to the numbers in the "book" version of the menu at the restaurant, not the carry-out version which is slightly different) # 7 salty duck, # 13 beef jerky, # 34 hot spicy oil chow foon, and smoke fish which is on the chalkboard menu. The smoke fish were warm, not much to look at (as per Tom's comment in his WP review), but round and mellow with a complex sweetness in the sauce. Very nice. The duck was cold, and there was lots of it, very tender and flavorful with a thin layer of fat. The jerky was small slices of beef, dry, with a cumin infused coating. The chow foon was, oddly, fairly narrow noodles but with a subtle spice sauce, which grew more intense in the mouth--the sleeper among the apps. They were all "re-order worthy."

Of the mains, four were from the regular menu: # 63 Gen. Tsao boneless duck (repeated from last week because I never got any), # 74 stir-fried eggplant, # 87 flounder with dried pepper, and # 44 boiled beef and vegetable. Two were from the wallboard: scallops with Chinese squash, and Chen Tsang beef. Last was a special request garlic shrimp. The shrimp was a competent rendition of the dish, which appears on the American menu. The Chen Tsang beef is an old friend, the "Chinese sloppy joe" that we had the second week, a wonderful dish of minced beef redolant of cummin and spice served with buns to "make your own.". The scallops with squash were silky and smooth. The flounder in diced pepper is a favorite of Chinese customers, rich hulks of fish (today it was cod) and tofu covered in various finely chopped sweet and hot peppers, fairly wet, and with a curious tang. The boiled beef was like other hot pot dishes done by chef Chang, a rich brown sauce with slices of soft, fully cooked beef, and nicely spiced. The eggplant was double cooked, with a fine clear coating having just a hint of sweetness. Finally, best of all, the boneless duck, and now I know why the other table polished it off last week. A seminal dish, duck coated and fried, then cut in serving slices and masked with a sauce that seemed to include every possible flavor, hot, sweet, sour, fruity, you name it, which perfectly complemented the fattiness of the duck. A must-order dish.

The total came to $13 per person all-in.

Next week is the final episode. We'll go all-out to have some great dishes. I know some are away this time of year, but hope many of you will nonetheless be able to join us.>>

#44 entropy

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 10:33 AM

Made my first long-anticipated visit to TemptAsian Cafe a few days ago and found it surprisingly busy for a Tuesday evening (must have been the buzz from Tom's review). Upon entering the minimally-appointed restaurant, my guest and I were a bit befuddled. We stood around for a few minutes without knowing if we should just sit down or wait to be seated. After flagging down a waitress, we were told to wait a few more minutes while they got a table ready. However, during the time between our table being ready and the waitress coming to retrieve us, another party just walked in and sat down at our table! The situation was quickly resolved and the brief hiccup gave way to a great culinary experience.

While my guest was not up for any of the traditional offerings (ended up ordering a more-than-adequate Beef Fried Rice by Americanized-Chinese food standards), I endeavored to sample as much as my stomach would allow along one central theme, spicy. Started off with the baby wontons in chili oil and the beef tripe w/garlic. For my entree, I scratched a long-standing itch for a staple of Sichuan cuisine, Ma Po tofu. The freshness of the hand-made wontons, the perfect and unique consistency of the tripe, and the silkiness of the tofu made this an amazing meal.

What was most impressive about this hot experience was that though all three of my dishes contained a considerable amount of heat, my "en fuego" tastebuds were still able to distinguish between the individual character of the three dishes. The flavor of the wonton broth, the garlicky nature of the tripe, and even a hint of sweetness in the tofu. Normally, food of this nature is just "hot"...but this was "hot" and so much more. Needless to say, the large portions and one stomach yielded many leftovers that I'm still contently feasting on.

Though the service was sparse and indifferent, the food was authentic and satisfying...and let's be honest, the latter was why I went there hoping for in the first place and it's why I'll be back very soon!

#45 Capital Icebox

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 02:05 PM

On our first visit to TemptAsian last weekend, I was determined to try the craziest thing I could find on the menu; my girlfriend was bent on choosing the most boring. Thereby we ended up with an order of sweet and sour chicken from the English menu and Beef Triple in Pig Blood from the Chinese menu on the table, neither of us sure if we had done the right thing.

Has anyone else here tried the latter? It's a huge bowl of the less-than-familiar: tons of tripe; the aforementioned pig blood, appearing in rectangular gelatinous cubes that don't pack a lot of flavor but are a great way to impress (in a third grade sort of way) a date; more beef; and of course the rich broth and plenty of vegetables (including some nice hot spices and peppers) surrounding the whole deal. It was disorienting, and I can't say that I had them bag up the large amount I had left over for the next day. Had they served beer (or I'd done my research and known you can BYOB), I might have been braver. But I also can't say that I don't want to go back and try the myriad other options on the menu, preparing for the day when I go for the beef triple in pig blood again, this time emptying my bowl and licking it clean.
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#46 johnb

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 02:50 PM

  But I also can't say that I don't want to go back and try the myriad other options on the menu, preparing for the day when I go for the beef triple in pig blood again, this time emptying my bowl and licking it clean.

For those of you who may have been following our series of Tuesday lunches at TemptAsian, here is the final report which just went out. We never got around to the pig's blood (it was pondered by several of us), but plan to do that one one of these days soon!

<<<A small group of 8 gathered last Tuesday for the last in our series of TemptAsian lunches. I'm pooped, so this will be short.

Jason joined us this time and took pictures. Here is a link

http://www.flickr.co...ek/sets/852153/


We had four apps and six mains as follows (I'll skip the commentary but offer letter grades)

27 dan dan noodles (recommended by Tyler Cowen) A
15 spicy peppercorn beef A
10 mix flavor chicken B-
19 triple stuffed bean curd skin A (surprise hit)

52 Budda's bean curd B-
70 pork with bamboo shoots pork B- bamboo A+
62 spicy emperor duck B
66 salt fried squid and prawns (modified from menu item) B+
-- whole fish with spicy bean sauce (wallboard item) B+
-- Chinese watercress (vegetable recommended by the house) B

For whatever reason, for me, the apps always seem the best part of the meal--same thing in all types of restaurants--probably because I'm hungry.

It was a great run: we had at least 35 or so different dishes over the six meetings, and some were sensational. I hope that all of you who attended one or more had as much fun as I did, and that those who only have been having these reports fill their mailboxes have enjoyed reading them.

Let's do something like this again soon. Volunteers?>>>

#47 CrescentFresh

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 09:52 AM

I'd just like to say that this place kicks ass. That's all.
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#48 mdt

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 09:38 AM

I'd just like to say that this place kicks ass.  That's all.

Oh yeah!

Had a repeat trip last Friday and the Gen. Tsao boneless duck was delicious as was the fish with green onion. Ah cumin!

#49 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 10:16 AM

Oh yeah!

Had a repeat trip last Friday and the Gen. Tsao boneless duck was delicious as was the fish with green onion.  Ah cumin!

I generally agree that the place kicks butt, but the fish with black bean sauce special that we ordered off of the chalk board just did not do it for me. Too many bones in the fish and the saucing was comparatively bland.

edited to add: And I thought the fried dumplings were subpar as well (from a prior visit).

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux, 12 September 2005 - 10:22 AM.

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#50 mcbriden

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 10:21 AM

My first visit to TemptAsian was wonderful, but I had a problem locating the Chen Tsang beef on the menu. After a lengthly discussion with the waitress, she pointed out what she thought I wanted on the first page of the menu - written in Chinese. It was exactly what I wanted and I thought it was better than I remember it from China Star - although it could have been because I had such a craving for it! :lol:

We also had the crystal shrimp - the asparagus addition is great - along with the fish rolls with cilantro and the scallion pancakes. Everything was really good.

Now that I know where the chen tsang beef is on the chinese language menu, anyone know how often that will change and/or if it will be going away?




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