"gas station" Chinese West Lebanon NH
We went on a road trip yesterday so inspired by past chowhound posts I decided we needed to try Oriental Wok Express on 97 N Main St, W Lebanon NH. It had been described as a gas station so I expected it was a casual take-out kind of place in a former gas station. Not so! It is housed inside an active Mobile station on the corner of Rt 4. The sign is almost invisible so I only spotted it on a second time passing it. I had read to skip the steam table although that's what most people were ordering in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. We were almost the only table but there seemed to be a slow but steady stream of take-out. Business probably gets a lot busier on Saturday evening since there was an enormous pile of egg rolls waiting to go into the deep fryer.
The white board specials offer pea pods, also water spinach but the counter person said they were vegetable bowls. I regret not getting the third special which was a beef soup bowl. I wonder if it was like pho,
The paper menu is extensive but I spotted another hand-written sign near the cash registered that offered Thai style fried rice. Unfortunately it was not like the Thai style fried rice we get at Asian Delight in Tilton NH which my husband thinks is the best fried rice ever. This rice was heavily season with what I think was Madras curry powder, slightly spicier than I liked, but it also contained the promised shrimp, green peas, carrots, etc. From the list of Chef's Specialties we chose #87: Prince chicken - crispy chicken with vegetables, snow peas, mushroom & water chestnuts in chef's special sauce. There were no snow peas but broccoli instead. But, except for canned straw mushrooms and water chestnuts, the vegetables were fresh, cruncy, and tasty. The sauce was a dark brown soy type. The rice that came with this was plain, but had a nice flavor.
We also ordered spring rolls which were definitely freshly made and deep fried but as northeastern US duck sauce addicts, we missed the bowl of "sweet sauce" and had to make do with almost impossible to open little plastic packets.
The menu said No Msg for which we were grateful. The white board special also listed scrambled egg with crab. I've had a similar dish and it wasn't my favorite but I think we probably missed out by not ordering from the section "Authentic Asian Dishes". What is pig ear? What is Ribbon Fish? Ok, we'll pass on beef stomach (tripe) but I kick myself for not trying their pork bun or Shang Hai Bok Choy with Bacon.
Has anyone who has been to this restaurant comment on this part of the menu? Shredded Pork with Potato sounds too American but perhaps it is not. I'm sorry it will probably be quite some time before I'm in this part of NH again so I can do a better job of exploring their menu. This seems like a very hidden gem not that far from Dartmouth. The counter help was friendly and another lady clean tables was very nice and personable, thanked us for coming and wished us a good day.
You probably did miss out by ordering food designed to be sold to Americans who are believed by the proprietors to be afraid of the authentic stuff.
Potatoes are a crunchy food in Chinese cuisine. Americans freak out because they think raw potatoes are poisonous, but they're quit edible. You can also get some shredded potato salads occasionally, with the potatoes only slightly cooked. Pig ear is what it claims to be, and is usually sliced thin or shredded so it's somewhat crunchy in texture. Ribbon fish is, well, a kind of fish, a long skinny one that looks vaguely like an eel. And Shanghai bok choy with bacon is just plain delicious!