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Captain J's Restaurant in Raleigh

Hey folks,

Gonna start a new thread here as the old one is getting too long...

Captain J's is expanding its Chinese menu. They have recently hired a new chef who specializes in Shanghai Style Cuisine. Earlier today a few of us went over there to try out some of the new items:

1. Fried Pork Potstickers. Handmade by chef. Thin dough and full of meat!

2. Tian Jing Spicy Cabbage. Sweet and a bit spicy.

3. Braised Wheat Gluten. Wheat gluten chunks with shiitake and bamboo in a sweet sauce. Some of us felt its a bit too sweet.

4. Braised Pork Shanks. Really tender. Fell off the bone easily with the chopsticks.

5. Beef noodle soup. Pretty much the same as before but they now use a different cut of beef (brisket).

We did not and could not try them all! For those of you who are adventurous, they have sea cucumber!

Perhaps we need to have another Chow-meet over there...

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    1. Ohhh- thank you for the update! Delicious!

        1. re: panthur

          Wow! The menu us legible now. Loses a bit of the charm, though. :-)

          I seriously never knew that they had jamaica. I absolutely love that stuff. I just don't know how well itt goes with Chinese food, though.

          1. re: rockycat

            Jamaica pairs well with the pig feet.... Lol

            The new Chinese menu will roll out as soon as the owner gets the three page plastic menu binders...

            Aren't we all getting sick of circling stuff?

          2. re: panthur

            Looks good! Feh to the american menu. Tripe, pigs ear and dim sum offerings! If this doesn't take off in N. Raleigh.. well I'm sorry. I often feel like N. Raleigh gets left off the map in foodie places but I'm also not from that area and maybe talking out of the side of my mouth.

          3. Speaking of which, I'm hosting a meetup there next week, on Thursday Aug 14th! Sign up at http://smsc10.eventbrite.com if you'd like to go. You can meet other foodies, taste yummy food and try lots of dishes. We each pay our own way and tickets to reserve your spot are free.

            I call it social media supper club but you don't have to be on social media to participate.

            1 Reply
            1. Going there next month! What would be the perfect items for 2 first-timers? I'm afraid I'll load up on too many dumplings (if such a thing were possible).

              4 Replies
              1. re: cocobinga

                There's no such thing as too much XLB.

                Just a heads-up to everyone, though. There's a new manager and he can be something of an acquired taste. I've been twice since he's started and frankly, I find him very annoying. He talks a lot and I don't always find his comments too helpful or welcome. He's almost too accommodating, I think. I've listened to him guide other tables of non-Asians through the menu and he's willing to alter the dishes any way you'd like. That would include spicing them up like Americanized Sichuan, even when the dish is not meant to be that way. I'm a big believer in giving the customer what s/he wants but in a case like this where the diner may not know what to expect, why not let the food speak for itself or steer the customer to a dish that's meant to be spicy?

                Now that I've gone through all of that rant, my current favorites are the spicy cabbage and wheat gluten mentioned above. I still think the wheat gluten is a bit too sweet but it's good. Any of the dumplings or potstickers are very good. The preserved egg and tofu is unusual and tasty but may be challenging if you're not adventurous. The pork chop and rice, while definitely not challenging is equally delicious. I haven't really gone wrong with any of the pork dishes yet. Oh, and there's a new menu yet again but nothing too different.

                NB: Unless the manager has corrected himself, the "jasmine" tea is actually chrysanthemum tea. Made from leaves, not a tea bag, and still good, just not jasmine. And my two cents - the ma po tofu is better at Wang's on Atlantic and the zhajiangmian is better at Grand Asia.

                1. re: rockycat

                  She didn't say it would XLB (though why would it not) she may be filling up on some other dumpling ;-)

                  1. re: rockycat

                    Forgot to add that they now also have tofu knots! My preference is for more tofu, less pork in the dish but I would still order it again happily.

                  2. re: cocobinga

                    Had dinner there last Saturday. We had a great experience with the new staff and the food was top notch though we had a guest and were less adventuresome than usual. There's a new manager (Andy) and a terrific new part-time server named Joy. Both were very personable and helpful.

                    The XLB (soup) dumplings were better than I remember so whatever you do, order them and if Joy is there, allow her to demonstrate how to eat them. Loved the Szechuan string beans (though beware they come with ground pork which is not noted on the menu). The Shanghai(?) wonton soup was good but DH liked it better than I did. We all enjoyed the excellent flounder in garlic sauce (comes with nice amount of scallions and bok choy).

                    They have a new menu (prices have increased a bit). The old menu with the pictures is still available but prices are wrong. But definitely worth a visit. As everyone else notes avoid the buffet and make a beeline for the dining room on the left as you enter.

                  3. Here are a couple of new dishes:
                    1. Pork Belly Sandwich
                    2. Beef Brisket Noodle Soup

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: sierrarot328i

                      The Spouse really liked the pork belly sandwich. Btw, we did have the buns (as opposed to pancakes) with duck, didn't we? We both remember it that way, but the manager swears up and down that they've never served it with buns. But they can if that's how we want it. :-)

                      1. re: sierrarot328i

                        Does anyone know if they make their noodles in-house?

                        1. re: cocobinga

                          They did for a short while. No longer, I believe.

                          1. re: cocobinga

                            Chef Peng, the dumpling chef could do it but you'd need to arrange with him (or through me, since I'm one of their "favorite" customers) ahead of time.

                            A few of us had arranged for a show a few months ago. Unfortunately we did not get to taste because he accidentally cut himself that morning.

                            It's difficult to have hand pulled noodles down here due to demand. Unless we have a huge population of Chinese like in flushing, queens...

                            1. re: sierrarot328i

                              That is a shame. I would imagine a small noodle shop in either downtown Durham or Raleigh would do really well. Especially if there was a window to watch the noodles being made (advertisement). I guess I'm thinking like Xian Famous or Fresh Cut Noodle in NY.

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                I've been to Captain J's a couple of times and I've been super pleased. It's so good that it almost makes me miss living in Raleigh. Huge menu to explore.

                                China Express in Durham, near 54/55 & I40, makes their own noodles in house.
                                Here's Greg Cox's review of China Express:

                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                  Not sure if they make them in house, but China Express in RTP has "handmade Chinese noodles" on the menu:


                                  1. re: ToothTooth

                                    Yes Tom pointed that out. They are mostly in a soup dish.

                                      1. re: ToothTooth

                                        At captain j's you could get either soup or stir fried. Peng streches the noodles and Chen/Zhou cooks.

                                        1. re: sierrarot328i

                                          Thank you guys! I would have never known what a treasure this place is without Chowhound.

                                          I haven't had great Chinese food since my visit to Han Dynasty in Philadelphia; it is one of my favorite cuisines when done right!

                          2. Has anyone been recently? I read a post on Yelp which indicated that the chef left. Is there any truth to this and if so, does anyone know how the quality is lately?

                            We decided that we would head over there for Thanksgiving this year rather than do a traditional turkey type of meal and I just want to be sure we're making the right decision as we've always loved Captain J's in the past.