Excellent Meal at Taipei Gourmet in Lexington Last Night
The Swank family enjoyed a terrific dinner last night at the newish Taipei Gourmet. We'd ordered takeout once before and weren't wowed, but we figured we'd give it another shot, especially after it was named one of the top 25 Chinese restaurants in the country by Travel & Leisure. (And especially after enduring a long wait at S Dumpling last week.)
We were quickly greeted and ushered to a window table. The dining room was perhaps half full. A lovely waitress brought us menus and chatted. We opted for the sichuan wontons (with a hint of peanut sauce -- something I've longed for!), roast beef scallion pancakes, pineapple shrimp, boiled flounder in black bean sauce, and pork buns for Young Swank.
The waitress asked if we'd like everything to come out as it's ready, a nice touch, since nothing is more annoying than waiting for every dish to come out simultaneously, then receiving cold platters. A complimentary dish of pickled cabbage came out first; a nice refreshing touch. Wontons came out next. They were excellent -- not greasy or leaden in the least, and the sauce did have a peanut hint, which I enjoyed. The roast beef scallion pancake was juicy but a bit too deep-fried for my taste, though it was made lighter by a thin spread of plum sauce.
At this point, the dining room began to fill up to about 75 percent, and takeout orders were flying out of the kitchen. (I'd been concerned when the dining room wasn't full on a Friday night.) Pineapple shrimp was too sweet for Mr. Swank's taste, but I found the boiled flounder with black bean sauce absolutely perfect -- and a fair portion size, too. So often, you find a bit or two of flounder floating in a gummy sauce. Not here. The beans stood out, and there were large, healthy chunks of flounder. Asked for chili oil on the side -- and this is the actual oil, not the chopped salsa-ish stuff they bring at some spots.
Finally, out came Young Swank's pork buns in a bamboo carton -- which he quickly devoured. We have some leftovers (shrimp, fish) to enjoy today. And we were in and out in an hour!!
I hope this place succeeds. What inches it above SD for me is the quick service and the availability of sichuan wontons.
We tried this place for the first time tonight. I stuck to the Taiwanese appetizer menu and ordered the steamed mini juicy buns (essentially XLBs), steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow), steamed home made dumplings with pork and chive, and braised pork with steamed bun. My wife chose the seafood tofu hot pot and my son picked orange chicken.
The XLBs were good, quite similar to the ones we had last week at Szechuan's Dumplings. The har gow was too starchy--didn't get that nice clean burst of shrimp when you bit into it. The pork and chive dumplings were decent, but paled in comparison to SD's more delicate and subtle rendition. The braised pork bun was way too sweet for my taste--I would rather go with DooWee's version any time.
The seafood tofu hot pot was not spicy enough for me, but that may be because my wife asked it to be toned down. The tofu was fresh and the broth tasted better after I spooned in some of one of the dumpling dipping sauces (the spicy garlic). In fact, that dipping sauce was the high point of the meal for me. The other dipping sauce (soy sauce, rice vinegar, and ginger) was also quite good. What can I say about the orange chicken? It's not something I would order for myself.
The service was quick and courteous, which is something they have, hands down, over SD. But Top 25 Chinese in the U.S.? Really? I'm not ready to pass judgment after one visit, but so far I am much more drawn to SD's for a second meal.
Glad you finally found a good Chinese meal! After you started up some good heated convos re Kowloon and PuPus i have been awaiting your opinions on how things ended up for both those cravings? Any reports to tell? Also, if your ever in Wakefield, I'd love your opinion of Bamboo House which is small, plain, family run regular mainstream Chinese, but extra fresh and extra extra cheap, and quiet with quick friendly service....
I liked the scallion pancakes, which are as much like omelets as pancakes, and the sauteed green beans. It is a very pleasant place to sit and eat a leisurely family meal, with friendly and efficient service.