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Oct 31, 2007 11:37 AM

Oriental Manor replacement?

As somebody has noted previously on the board, it appears that Oriental Manor on Route 40 has gone under, but when I went by to verify that last night, I saw a new sign that had been duct taped to the building wall next to the door. It had some presumably Chinese script on it, but also "Hong Kong and Cantonese Food" (or something close to that) in English.

Anybody have any scoop on whether this is an indication of a new regime in the same location, or a remnant of O.M.'s last gasp (assuming O.M. is in fact gone, as it appears)?

If it is an indication of a reopening under new management and/or ownership, I'd appreciate it if those of you who pass by frequently could give the rest of us word when it appears that the place is open again.

If I sound overly interested in the fate of one restaurant, it's only because I've really got a hankering for good Chinese, and with O.M. either gone or at very least gone seriously weird, and Szechuan Best having bitten the dust a year or so ago, the options in the Baltimore area for Chinese, as opposed to "Chinese American", have grown very slim indeed. If O.M.'s reincarnation or replacement proves to be decent, I'll be celebrating.

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  1. I think that leaves Szcechuan House in a strip mall on York and Seminary. I like both it's more traditional Chinese offerings (on the "Countryside Taste" section of the menu), and the more typical American-Chinese stuff too (depending on my mood).

    I know it's been discussed on this board before.....but, really, I think it's a case of 'and then there was one!'

    And, you can BYOB...(and free pistachio nuts while you're waiting.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: baltoellen

      I do like Szechuan House, though after a bit of "giving it a chance", I've now made it a rule to *not* allow myself to order any more of the "and intestines" dishes on the back menu. Yes, I'm adventurous, but a dish that pretty much translates to "chitlins and tofu" just doesn't work for me! I just wish that they had "and tripe" as an option or susbstitution on most of those dishes, because as I recall, there are some other unusual ingredients like sour mustard greens that they only have as part of an "and intestines" dish.

      1. re: Warthog

        Then go for the baby bok choy and black mushrooms....not a drop of innards in 'em!

    2. Personally, I found Jesse Wong to be far superior to Oriental Manor - at least that's my impression after my visit to OM a few months ago - the food was terrible and service even worst. I've always found Jesse Wong to be very good and authentic cantonese food. Love that Kingdom Porkchop and their Peking Duck is definite the best I've found in the MD area.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Larap2

        Well, as luck would have it, I ended up at Szechauan House tonight, since I was in Towson anyway. Ordered the snow pea tips, and some sizzling beef dish, since we saw a neighboring table, a Chinese family order it. I always do the snow peas, since they are the best around, and well, I just liked the sizzle of the beef.

        If this sort of thing matters, maybe about a third of the restaurant was people who looked to be of Chinese origin.

        Anyway, I ended up talking to the sizzling beef ordering family as they were leaving. They seemed to have ordered well, a great looking tofu dish, the whole flounder, sizzling rice, etc., and I asked them where they thought the best Chinese food was in the area. They said for Baltimore, definitely SH. I asked them about Jesse Wong's HK, and even though they live in Columbia, they venture to Towson to eat at SH. (Oh, the grandmother used to own some Chinese place on Security Blvd.) They thought JWHK was just a lot of flash with mediocre food. And, having been there for the Charm City Hounds dim sum outing, I agree. I can only think of one dish that was a standout, and that was the fried pork.

        They said for dim sum that they go to Wheaton.

        Anyway, before they left, they gave me a recipe for soy sauce chicken. Sounds great and easy, and I can't wait to make it. And, one of these days, I'm going to get myself down to Wheaton!

        1. re: baltoellen

          If you go to SH after 2 and before 430 every day, you can see them sorting, cleaning and pulling a hard edge strip thing off of a mountain of fresh snow peapods piled onto the first table as you enter the DR.

          1. re: baltoellen

            I guess that also depends on what their personal type of chinese food they're into. Being cantonese, I can definitely say that JWHK's food is comparable to the cantonese food that I use to have in NYC. And of course whether you're ordering off their chinese menu or their "american" menu. :-)

            1. re: baltoellen

              Thanks for the rec on the snow pea tips. SH is near my office so I've been there countless times. Last Saturday had the snow pea tips for the first time. (Wednesday I had them for a second time.) Absolutely delicious. My friend who is vegetable-phobic even liked them.

              I picked up some fresh snow pea tips from HMart so I'm going to try to make them at home.

              1. re: jellopixy

                Glad you liked. Yesterday, in search of heart-healthy items on the menu and finding few, they suggested steamed chicken with steamed veg, not on the menu, and just great. And the sushi guy continues to do as well as anyplace in the area.

            2. re: Larap2

              If you only tried O.M. a few months ago, you missed it in the form that got raves on this board.

              Prior to their closing, I hesitated to comment other than to say that things had gotten odd, but the last several times I went there were just plain surreal. The last two times, I coudn't even get served. Both of those times, I found the doors propped open and the only members of the staff present were lounging around the dining area, clothing rumpled, shirts unbuttoned, not talking, not moving, and generally in a daze, gazing at nothing with what Viet Nam vets call "the Thousand Mile Stare". They wouldn't even acknowledge my presence. The first time it happened, I wondered if they had just gotten news of somebody's death or something similarly shocking that left everybody so stunned that they just detached from normal reality for a while, but when it happened a second time a couple weeks later, I didn't know what to think. In each case, after a short pause, I just turned around and walked out.

              Both times, it looked like a scene out of one of those hyper-stylized Hong Kong film noir type movies, and I almost expected to hear Chow Yun Fat doing a voice-over - "I walked into Oriental Manor, and I knew it was over. They weren't serving, They weren't doing anything. I wasn't even sure if they were breathing. I left and I never looked back. <cue closing credits>"

              I don't know what the heck was going on there, and I'm not sure I ever want to.

              1. re: Warthog

                When OM WAS good, it was much, much, much better than JWHK. Sorry to see it go!

                1. re: baltoellen

                  I've not tried JWHK, so I can't compare, but Oriental Manor was very good before its downfall, especially in the Cantonese type dishes. Let's hope that a replacement arises soon for Oriental Manor and Szechaun Best. The Baltimore area Chinese restaurant scene could use some revitalization.

                  Of course, on the flip side, if even the good places aren't making a go of it, maybe those of us who do enjoy good Chinese food need to become a bit more energetic in both our own patronage and in our spreading the word to others if we ever do get another good place or two.

                  Like the song says, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

                  1. re: Warthog

                    I guess we don't have to worry about SH being gone anytime soon. They seem to have a very healthy business. I enjoy the waitresses getups, the large groups and the effortless manner they seem to have about handling throngs of customers. Lately I've been enjoying dishes with ginger. Their steamed fish with slivers of ginger is great.

                    I agree that I'd like to see more such places in Baltimore. Are Korean restaurants on the ascendancy in this area? I wonder why OM failed. BTW I never ate there.

                    1. re: baltimorejim

                      They are the most tightly run restaurant for the price ever! You never wait a second for anything. It's such an incredibly efficient operation. Yes, they've been around a long time, and I can't imagine them going anywhere. (They had better stay put! Then, what would we do??)

                      I really must try the fish! And, speaking of ginger, they have this refreshing cole slaw dish with tons of it!

            3. the new sign was put up by the owner right before it closed down. i went by last week and it doesn't look like they're reopening soon.

              1. Hunan Manor in Columbia has always been dependable for me.

                1 Reply
                1. re: tombradyqb

                  But certainly no replacement for Oriental Manor! They have a much more American Chinese menu. No dim sum, no casseroles, no live eel, no tendon, no crispy intestine. Oriental Manor will be missed.

                2. Oriental Manor is now Asian Court. I picked up a take-out menu and it looks pretty authentic and good. They serve dim sum daily, from carts only on the weekend.
                  Has anyone tried it?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: marty mann

                    Where is this restaurant located - Oriental Manor/Asian Court?

                    1. re: Necee

                      Chatham Mall/Square on rt 40 a mile or 2 west of 29 next to the home depot. went a week after they reopened for dim sum during lunch, ordered a tofu and seafood pot and about 10 to 12 dim sum dishes between 3 of us. tofu was sour and 3 or 4 of the dim sum dishes were spoiled (shrimp gone bad). was really hoping for a decent place nearby but /sigh. bad cooking is one thing but spoiled food on opening week is just a bad sign. i'll give that place 6 months before it closes again.