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Liang’s Kitchen – A Delicious Taiwanese Import from Los Angeles

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**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2012/07/liang...

When I heard that Liang’s Kitchen opened in Flushing, I almost immediately went there. Liang’s Kitchen is originally from the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles, which is where most good Chinese food in LA is located. However, over time they expanded and have several branches in LA, a branch in Irvine and a couple branches in Northern California. I’ve eaten at the one in San Gabriel and the one in Irvine, which is fairly close to where my family lives. It’s generally been good dependable Taiwanese food, so I was quite excited to hear they had opened a branch in Flushing as good Taiwanese food has become somewhat difficult to find here.

Liang’s Kitchen actually isn’t straight up Taiwanese food; it’s supposed to be a take on the food that came from the migration of mainland Chinese to Taiwan. Many of these Chinese were military families who were part of the Kuomintang, some of whom intentionally moved to Taiwan in the 40s and some of whom fled to Taiwan in 1949 when the KMT lost against the Communists. Taiwanese food traditionally is southern Fujian food, but you will also find a lot of northern Chinese, Sichuan and other Chinese regional dishes as well. This is partially a function of the influence these military families had on Taiwan’s food culture. Last time I was in Taiwan I watched a documentary about these communities that surrounded or were on military bases where Chinese from a given province would all live together and then cook their regional food as part of community gatherings; the one I watched was about group of 30-40 families from Hunan that had kept cooking traditional Hunan dishes even generations after the original immigrants came.

The restaurant is located in the basement of the Best Western Hotel. It’s a brand new space; quite clean and reasonably nice. The walls have blown up pictures of their food, old pictures of Taiwanese military families and pictures of the chef and Liang family. This location isn’t on their website yet, but they have pictures of the CEO (Ivan Liang) and the new head chef, so I’m pretty sure that it’s an authentic location. The servers were reasonably nice and they speak English, so you shouldn’t have a problem if you don’t speak Chinese. However, certain appetizers and the entire main dish menu are only written in Chinese, so that will be sort of an issue. I’m going to write the characters of dishes we ordered that were on the Chinese only menu so that you can order them.

Here’s what we got:
- Stewed Tofu (Lu Dou Fu Gan Si): Lu wei is a type of Chinese cooking common in southern China, where you braise meats or tofu in a master stock made up of soy sauce, spices and other ingredients. This is actually smoked tofu that is stewed in a lu wei sauce. The version here was just okay, I didn’t think the lu wei sauce they used was flavorful enough, so while it tasted alright it was nothing to write home about. 7/10
- Seaweed (Liang Ban Hai Dai Si): This is a cold dish of long thin strips of seaweed tossed in sesame oil and mashed garlic. It tastes exactly how it sounds. The version here was decent, but not great. 7/10
- Stir Fried Corn and Shrimp (Yu Mi Xia Ren 玉米蝦仁): This is a very Taiwanese home cooking type of dish. It’s a simple dish with corn, shrimp and diced peppers stir fried with sesame oil and salt. The corn and shrimp were both very fresh and they were also generous with the amount of shrimp they gave. This version was quite good and I enjoyed it. 8/10
- Beef Tendon Noodle Soup (Hong Shao Niu Jin Mian): Hong shao is another type of braising that is common in Chinese cuisine and it’s very common for the beef to be stewed in this manner for beef noodle soup in Taiwan, which is actually the national dish of Taiwan. This dish is pretty hard to get right as the beef and broth require a lot of skill and hard work to get right. The beef tendon was surprisingly good; it was very tender and flavorful, definitely the best beef tendon I’ve had in NY beef noodle soup (although the rest have generally been pretty bad). Unfortunately, the noodles were overcooked so they were kind of mushy although they tasted fine. The broth was decent; I wouldn’t say it was great or anything, but it had decent beef flavor and the pickled vegetable tasted good. Overall, it’s probably one of the better Taiwanese style beef noodle soups in NY although just decent on an absolute basis. 7.25/10 (8/10 for the beef tendon, 6.5/10 for the noodles and 7.25/10 for the broth
)- Beef Pancake (Niu Rou Jia Bing): This is a scallion pancake that is lathered with hoisin sauce then thinly sliced beef and cucumbers are layered on top and it’s wrapped into a burrito. I love this dish and Liang’s Kitchen is known for it. The scallion pancake was good; it was freshly fried and not oily although I do prefer it to be a little thinner. The beef was pretty decent and tasted nice with the hoisin sauce. Overall, the version here was pretty good. 8/10
- Wontons in Hot Oil (Hong You Chao Shou): This is an example of that military influence as this is a Sichuan dish that you can find at any Sichuan restaurant in NY. The sauce was nice; it had good tasting hot oil and a slight sweetness to it. However, it’s less spicy than any of the Sichuan places. The wontons were good as well with very thin skins and nice filling. The only problem was that if you leave the wontons in the sauce for too long they start to fall apart because the skins are so thin. The wontons are definitely better than most of the Sichuan places and the sauce was quite good, but it depends on whether you want it to be as spicy as the Sichuan places or not. 8/10
- Shacha Beef with Water Spinach (Sha Cha Niu Rou Kong Xin Cai 沙茶牛肉空心菜): Sha cha is a sauce that is made of soybean oil, garlic, shallots, chillis, dried fish and dried shrimp. The dish consists of sliced beef sautéed in a sha cha sauce put over boiled water spinach (kong xin cai). I thought it was pretty good although could’ve used a little more salt. 7.5/10
- Five Flavor Steamed Pork (Wu Wei Bai Qie Rou 五味白切肉): This is steamed thin slices of pork served with thinly julienned ginger and a sweet bean and garlic sauce. This turned out to be the best dish and the surprise of the night. The pork slices were very tender and they tasted really good with the ginger and bean sauce. I definitely recommend ordering this. 8.5/10
- Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji 三杯雞): This is a very typical Taiwanese dish consisting of chicken on the bone cooked in a sauce made of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil (hence the three cups) and it also has sugar, basil and ginger in it. The version here was a little different because it’s not sweet at all, but the sauce still tasted pretty good. The problem was that there was not enough meat, it was mainly bones. I have no issue with the meat being on the bone (some people don’t like that), but there was so little chicken that the dish ended up being very small even though it looks big. I think Gu Xiang’s version is better than this one. 7.5/10 (could’ve been higher if they gave more chicken meat)
- Pork Chop Rice (Pai Gu Fan): I got this to go for my girlfriend. Taiwanese pork chop rice is a staple dish in Taiwan; it’s a pork chop that has been pounded thin and is fried in a sweet potato flour batter and five spice (wu xiang fen). It’s usually served with condiments of lu rou (stewed ground pork sauce), suan cai (pickled mustard greens) and lu dan (stewed hard boiled eggs). However, here they only gave a very small amount of lu rou, no suan cai and instead gave another pickled cabbage that had red chilis and Chinese sausage in it and also pickled daikon. The pork chop was excellent maybe the best version I’ve had in NY or at least on par with 66 Lu’s next door which most people consider the best (although I think their quality has gone downhill a bit). It was tender, crispy, wasn’t oily and had good five spice flavor. The pickled vegetables and lu dan were good as well. The only problem was they gave you no lu rou, which I love. It also came with a nice light seaweed soup that was pretty good as well. 8.25/10

Overall, I enjoyed my meal here and this is definitively some of the best Taiwanese food in New York now. I hope that the quality stays good as Chinese restaurants in NY have this tendency to start strong and then fade.

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  1. I had dinner here a month or two ago. Sadly I remember the meal most because of the cold smoked fish appetizer I ordered, hoping it would be like the masterful version I sampled at Tak Kee Chiu Chow restaurant in Hong Kong. Alas, it was a sad, sad comparison.

    22 Replies
    1. re: AubWah

      yah as you can see in my post i didn't think their cold apps were anything special, so they are probably not what you want to order. although you're comparing apples to oranges a little bit as you're comparing a teochew restaurant to a taiwanese restaurant and none of the restaurants in NY come close to any good HK restaurant and tak kee is a reasonably well-known teochew restaurant in HK in western

      fyi, i think nan xiang xiao long bao has the best cold apps in NY

      1. re: Lau

        Thanks for tip Lau. I really like the dan gou? smoked tofu..maybe you can tell me correct phonetic chinese...at the stall in the golden mall basement...i think you covered it on your website.. Tak Kee is legendary, a must visit on every trip to HK

        1. re: AubWah

          its dou gan which literally means "bean dry", its pronounced "dough gaan" (aww sound not A sound). I'm a huge fan of it as well.

          i think you're talking about xie family foods in the golden mall; their dou gan is quite good

          Tak Kee: I know about it, but I've never been here. i'm actually going to HK at the beginning of August, so maybe I'll get a chance to go. they'll be alot of posts on Asia sometime in the fall. what were your favorite things at tak kee? do you need a group to eat there? (you usually do at teochew places; i'm breaking the places i eat at into places i can eat by myself when my friends are at work and places i should get a group to go to)

          1. re: Lau

            I went with 1 other person. Their famous goose is splendid. The smoked fish cold app is revelatory. Also had their special congee with dried fish and oysters, etc. it was tremendous. I highly recommend a dinner at this restaurant, it is without question one of if not the finest Chiu chow in hk. They also keep their prices very reasonable. It's a special place

            1. re: AubWah

              yah teochew are famous for their braised goose as well as their congee which is much more watery than the cantonese version. they are also famous for have very fresh fish steamed fish usually pomfret, but i think ive had smoked fish at a teochew restaurant before

              im very much looking forward to eating some teochew food in HK and singapore, its one of my favorite types of chinese food, but most people in america have no idea what it is b/c its very hard to find here

              im looking at the pics of tak kee on openrice right now and they look great. did people speak english at this restaurant? not that it matters, but usually when you start getting further west or east on the HK island side the english starts getting worse

              1. re: Lau

                I think the sprightly young gentleman who took our order understood English. If not, there is an English menu for pointing

                1. re: AubWah

                  well verbal communication in chinese isn't the problem really, but im pretty slow reading chinese menus and i can't always read them since i can't read fluently (I probably read at like a 1st or 2nd grade level or something like that although maybe higher than that with food since i've taught myself to read alot more food than most kids would know).

                  When you go to super local spots (my favorite) where no one speaks english often times the menu is solely written in chinese, which is fine if its some stand that sells a few things, but when it's a place with a bigger more complicated menu, its annoying for them and me to have to ask them in chinese like what all the dishes are. Not that it stops me, but it's always easier if the menu is at least partially translated into english b/c I can zoom in on what i want alot faster

                2. re: Lau

                  Do you know of any Chinese restaurant in NYC that serves goose?

                  1. re: Barry Strugatz

                    Goose is expensive and difficult to find. Geese are usually slaughtered in November and then frozen.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      Barry Strugatz - unfortunately as far as i know there are no chinese restaurants serving goose in NY. you can get goose feet at some places, but ive never seen actual goose meat served here

                      1. re: Lau

                        Thanks. Years ago there was a place on East Broadway.

                        1. re: Barry Strugatz

                          if u ever happen to find it here, let me know

                        2. re: Lau

                          Sun Golden Island (now closed) in Chinatown used to offer good too. I would love to see it again.

                          1. re: Lau

                            plenty of goose intestine available too in little fuzhou

                              1. re: Lau

                                Yes that looks like it. This is the blog that took me there. http://whispalms.blogspot.com/2010/03... The fish is the first picture, looks the same as you posted. Whats it called in chinese? The aged vinegar was exquisite

                                1. re: AubWah

                                  yah its the same fish, im looking at this blog and it looks the same and has the same name in chinese

                                  it says 陳醋鳳尾魚 chen cu feng wei yu (chen cu = mature vinegar + feng wei yu - anchovy)

                                  the food in this post looks excellent

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  That is my sempiternal question. Goose feet? Goose intestines? All over the place. Roast goose, no. How come?

                3. Thanks Lau for this - another new spot to check out!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: scoopG

                    yah i think you'll like it, as i said to AubWah i wasn't very impressed with their cold dishes, but some of the stuff like the 五味白切肉 was quite good

                    1. re: Lau

                      Lau can you translate what you just said was very good

                      1. re: AubWah

                        its the Five Flavor Steamed Pork; its in the post, check the pics...def the best dish i had there, they did a very nice job on it

                        1. re: Lau

                          How do you pronounce "qie" ?
                          Like kwee?

                          1. re: AubWah

                            so of the 5 characters:
                            Wu = pronounced exactly as it's spelled
                            Wei = pronounced exactly as it's spelled
                            Bai = pronounced exactly as it's spelled
                            Qie = pronounced "qi" "A" A sound not aww (that should get you close to it)
                            Rou = pronounced "row"

                            1. re: Lau

                              To clarify: In pinyin (for Mandarin), when you see a "q," you should think a "ch" sound. And if you see coupled vowels like "ei" or "ai," you should think "ay" (long a sound) or "I" (long i sound). The "u" and "ou" are "oo" (like boo) and "ow" (long o sound) as Lau said above. I'd probably order this dish "woo way bye chyea row" (if you disregard the tones completely).

                              It was hard to get over my learned English phonetics to understand that Mandarin romanization bears a very, mmm, shall we say, slight resemblance to English sounds.

                              EDIT: Please understand that this is based on a southern Chinese/Taiwanese Mandarin accent. =D

                              1. re: mookleknuck

                                Pinyin was apparently a partially Russian-designed system, hence the "unusual" (to English speakers, anyway) use of some of the consonants in particular.

                  2. I hit this place up for a solo lunch today and - to echo Aub Wah's comment on another thread - really dug the sub-street open air atmosphere, unique for the neighborhood. Turning onto 39th Avenue from Prince, I found Mama Liang's beeming, happy face a comfort in the face of much construction and the impending and final demise of the Flushing Mall. It's sort of like waiting for an execution to happen around there, but Liang's is a welcome ray of sunshine.

                    I also found the staff to be very nice and helpful. It should be noted that the 5-flavored pork belly dish that Lau mentions here can only be found on the Chinese-only side of the menu. I managed to locate it by first showing the waitress Lau's post (which, by the way, she found very intriguing) and then letting her point it out to me on the short list of "appetizers", which is on the last page.

                    So, in short, thanks Lau for posting about this dish, as I wouldn't have known about it otherwise. It's what drew me here, as I'm a sucker for steamed pork belly of almost any kind. Put a bo ssam platter in front of me, and I'll damn near finish it solo and suck down the oysters for dessert, but I digress. This was, indeed, a good dish and it was all about the local pork flavor going really well with the tangy and tart brown sauce. I'm sorry to say that they left off the julienned ginger, which definitely would have knocked it up a notch or two. I only realized this later on, when I re-read your post.

                    I also had a dish called "stewed tofu", but it was completely different from the one you had. I had asked the waitress for a recommendation and she pointed it out to me as being one of those pictured on the nearby wall. This one is tofu, medium to firm in texture, fried in a light brown batter, lightly brushed with a mildly sweet brown sauce and topped with scallions. It was sided with a spicy red sauce which, combined with the hoisin, was pretty much the point. This was decent but I don't feel that they knocked it out of the park. Otherwise, I'd be going back for it.

                    Liang's was about half-full this afternoon at around 1pm. I spied lots of dry noodles with big chunks of beef on the other tables, as well as pork chop rice and what looked like huge platters of Taiwanese-style fried chicken, but I could be wrong about that. There's a whole portion of the menu, about a third of it on the last two pages, that is untranslated, so any help there from others would be greatly appreciated.

                    The prices are, to say the least, reasonable. Today I had two appetizer-size dishes that made for a more than filling lunch for just over 11 bucks. Not bad. You can do small plates here and mix it up very nicely for a good, balanced meal. I'll be back for the beef tendon noodles and, at very least, that corn dish with shrimp, which looks great.

                    Afterwards I went around the corner, to the recently opened Iris Tea and Bakery, another new Taiwanese joint, for a truly wonderful dessert called "trunk bread." I highly recommend trying this treat. I've downed about six in the past week, and have three more in the fridge for this weekend. Good for breakfast, too. Along with Beautiful Memory Dessert's selection, this is the best dessert in Flushing right now. I'll post on this place when I have the time/energy, etc.

                    Thanks for this post, Lau. Glad I hit up Liang's.


                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Polecat

                      I wonder why they wouldn't just translate the rest of the menu. Wouldn't they realize in New York City some people who can't speak or read Chinese might like the dishes. If anyone would translate it, that would be revelatory. I remember when I found the translated part of Shanghai Cafe's menu on Mott on Chowhound. They have since translated it, but back then, wow. Introduced me to new flavors.

                      1. re: Polecat

                        Any chance of a photo of the Chinese only part of the menu?

                        1. re: swannee

                          Sorry, no photo. I was armed but with an I-Phone that wasn't responding well at the time, and a desire to do nothing else apart from eat and observe the surroundings.

                          1. re: swannee

                            I'll get in there and a take a picture of the menu if a hound will translate

                            1. re: AubWah

                              next time i go ill take a pic and i can translate most of it for u

                              thats why i gave the chinese characters in my post so that you could actually order the dishes i ordered....any of them i gave the characters for are on the chinese only menu

                          2. re: Polecat

                            polecat - do you have a picture of the trunk bread?

                            also def try the pork chop rice, its quite good

                            1. re: Lau

                              Re the trunk bread - I think there's a shot or two on Yelp at this point. They have some good bread-related desserts here - I've tried about 8 now - but the trunk bread is far and away the best item I've sampled from them.

                              Re the Forest Hills Liang's - I live in FH, and have passed by/scanned their menu enough to know the menu is completely different, but, when I saw the Liang's Kitchen logo (with the smiling Mama Liang), I could have sworn I'd seen it before. So it's possible that, at one point, the FH location was claiming a connection.

                              Re pork chop rice - by all means, I love that dish. If done wrong, though, it's a greasy mess and you feel awful after eating it. So I've mostly stayed away. But I'll definitely try Liang's version.


                              1. re: Polecat

                                its not greasy at all, has good 5 spice flavor, i think you'll like it

                                this trunk bread looks good....this place really looks like a bakery in taiwan, im very curious to try it now

                                1. re: Lau

                                  It looks from their website that they might actually have flagship store(s) in Taiwan. If not, then they're definitely going for a branded look/feel.

                                  There's a heavy nod to the understated lightness of Japanese bread pastries here - a great many of their selections remind my wife and me of countless stuff we've gotten in Tokyo bakeries. The Japanese Egg Cake is another one of my other favorites here. There's also a dark brown oval bread, sort of a darker cousin to their caterpillar roll, that has ham and cheddar cheese in the middle, with some nice mild spicing. I really like that one as well.

                                  But, again, the trunk bread is king. Definitely go for the trunk bread.


                                  1. re: Polecat

                                    yah thats what i meant. the bakeries in taiwan are very good and this is very similar to what they look like. they're usually pretty nice and modern looking and have very similar pastries / breads to this.

                                    when im in taipei, i go to one of these types of bakeries and get stuff like this for breakfast almost everyday

                          3. Any connection between this Liang's and the Liang's in Forest Hills?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: EricMM

                              i saw that liang's in forest hills, but i dont think they are related

                            2. Finally made here and am glad I did. Twelve us settled in smoothly around a corner table and feasted on five appetizers and six dishes. Highlights were the Cold Bitter Melon that was served gratis along with our cold Five Flavor Eggplant, Hakka Stir-Fry, Lion's Head Meatballs and A Choy, a green vegetable from southern Taiwan. Service was excellent and we were treated to Sour Plum Juice at the end!


                              22 Replies
                              1. re: scoopG

                                You must have ordered in Chinese? That stuff is only written on the wall in Chinese right?

                                1. re: scoopG

                                  I would kill to have ordered like that when I ate there. What a spread

                                  1. re: AubWah

                                    Only the Red Cooked Lion's Head Meatballs were ordered off the wall specials written in Chinese! 紅燒獅子頭。 Everything else was off their menu.

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      wow thanks scoop. it says hakka stir fry on the menu? can't believe i missed it

                                      1. re: AubWah

                                        Oops - it says Hakka Sauteed, $11.95! 客家小炒
                                        Also, the Cold Bitter Melon was delivered free to the table along with Cold Five Flavor Eggplant. They wanted us to try it with the same dipping sauces that came with the eggplant. The A Choy was not on the menu but we asked about it and they said they had it.

                                        1. re: scoopG

                                          thanks scoop-looking forward to trying this place again..love the ambiance

                                          1. re: AubWah

                                            I agree - the place was hopping and the folks were very friendly.

                                          2. re: scoopG

                                            I'll bite -- what's a choy? Kong xin cai? Or?

                                            1. re: buttertart

                                              "AA choy" is a vegetable, sort of like a small romaine lettuce.

                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                i think he meant A cai? which is a vegetable. choy is cai in cantonese

                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                    yah i like A cai, its a good vegetable

                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                      Curiously enough, I've always seen it spelled as A菜 (yes, with an 'A', pronounced rather like 'ah'). Not sure what the etymology is.

                                                      Every decent Taiwanese restaurant in NYC would have it, but for some strange reason it's never on the menu. Nice and crunchy when sauteed, a popular dish at Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet (北港) on Main.

                                                        1. re: Lau

                                                          Correct! They pronounce it with a long A.

                                                        2. re: diprey11

                                                          It's the only vegetable I can spot on a Chinese language menu, mainly because of the romanized "A" in it. It's also the primary vegetable served at Taiwanese restaurants in California. Liang's Kitchen appears to operate during extended hours since you can peek down from the hotel lobby and see most of the restaurant below. When I stayed at the Best Western I noticed that they opened fairly early and stayed open quite late, likely to coincide with the traffic in the hotel.

                                                1. re: scoopG

                                                  they translate the whole menu into english now? before all the main dishes were only in chinese

                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                    They have a full English menu and some Chinese language specials written on wall.

                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                      oh thats good when I was there all of the main dishes were only written in chinese which i why i wrote some of the characters for the dishes, i was concerned people wouldn't be able to order there

                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                        Seems a fair number of people speak English quite well here.

                                                        1. re: scoopG

                                                          yah the younger waiters seemed to speak english and the older ones not so much

                                              2. re: scoopG

                                                Legend has it that A choy was originally fed to ducks in Taiwan by farmers....then eventually the populace discovered how tasty it was and then the rest is history.

                                              3. I ate there a while back with a friend and got to try a few dishes. Xiaolongbao and the pork shoulder were quite good, while the Chinese watercress was the worst I've ever had I think, overcooked to the point where it was dark green, and the rice was terrible. On the other hand, it was some of the best NYC Chinese restaurant tea I've had.

                                                1. For what it's worth, I am confirming that the Forest Hills Liaing's is maintaining an official link to Liang's Kitchen. The website states as much and mama Liang's beaming face is in the window.

                                                  Probably in deference to a neighborhood consisting of mostly non-adventurous eaters, but also owing to a steadily growing Chinese population, the FH Liang's appear to be hedging their bets. Their main menu consists mostly of your chow mein/ tso's/ chicken broccoli variety, while an almost secret separate menu sports the Taiwanese stuff. The prices are also, naturally, a dollar or so higher.

                                                  Since I live in Forest Hills, I'll probably get around to checking it out pretty soon out of sheer curiosity. The hood can always use more good eateries.


                                                  1. Just came from my second lovely meal here. Just want to thank you for the recommendation. I was with Chinese speakers so I didn't do the ordering but I requested the pork belly based on this post and it was sinful. The pork and basil with what I call bandage noodles was lovely, especially when I kicked it up with the homemade hot sauce. They provided a free ginger/pickled vegetable app that we loved and would have paid for. The service was awesome and I'm enamoured with the aloe honey green tea drink. Me and my dragon boat team loooove this place.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: clareandromeda

                                                      glad you enjoyed. the pork dish is something i dont think alot of people would know to order, so glad you got to try it

                                                      1. re: Lau

                                                        The girls couldn't find it written on the wall or on the menu so we asked. Its a shame cause it's amazing. We have practice 4x a week and often go out after. This place has gotten my coaches seal of approval so I'll try to report back if we find a new exciting dish. It was hoping on a Tuesday night which is a good sign!

                                                        1. re: clareandromeda

                                                          its on the menu although it was only written in chinese although someone said they had translated the menu into english fully, so i'd have to see the new menu

                                                          you might want to ask the servers for recs b/c i actually wouldn't have ordered it either b/c liang's isn't the type of place that i would think would make this dish well, but the waiter said its very good so we ordered it