Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Quest for Chinese in Ancaster

One of the first times Dan came to New York City with me, he was excited to experience Chinese food in "the white containers, that people eat out of with chopsticks like on Friends". My favorite Chinese restaurants in Manhattan are Wo Hop(17 Mott St.; 212-267-2536) for Cantonese cuisine (open 24 hours, nonetheless), and for Szechuan we like Grand Sichuan(1049 Second Ave. at 55th Street; 212-355-5855).

I discovered that Dan's aversion to moo shu was based on having it served with flour tortillas (like you might use for a quesadilla), as opposed to flour crepes, so I've been nervous about spending two months here in Canada without a decent meal of Chinese take-out. In my usual obsessive-compulsive way, I read reviews of the many local Chinese restaurants, talked to friends for their recommendations and determined that Le Chinois(173-175 King St. East, Hamilton, ON; 905-528-2223) was the best in town.

Dinner was pleasantly surprising. I was cynical that anything would taste good to my NYC-spoiled tastebuds, but the Hot & Sour Soup left my mouth feeling warm and satisfied and avoided the often gloppy nature of soups thickened with cornstarch. Eggplant with Garlic Sauce was a disappointment -- it wasn't made with Chinese eggplant and it was overcooked, so the dish primarily consisted of sloppy globs of eggplant in a spicy sauce. (I think the sauce had potential, so next time we'll try the Broccoli with Garlic Sauce.) Cheese Rangoons, crispy wonton shells with a cream-cheese based filling, were passable, but not necessarily worth the calories. Orange Beef is one of those unusual dishes that grows on you. The meat is battered and stir-fried which yields a slightly chewy texture, but the spicy sauce with orange rind gets warmer and tastier with each bite. Lastly, our Chicken Lo Mein was a little light on the vegetables, but it was flavorful and I would definitely order it again.

I didn't expect that we'd figure out the perfect order on our first try, but after this experience, we have a few good dishes to build upon. Dan also discovered that Le Chinois makes their own flour pancakes for moo shu at the Burlington location, so we'll also have to consider that in the future.


Anonymous Clayton said...

If you want good Chinese food, in the relative Hamilton are, drive out to China King, just outside of Brantford, Ontario; it's a diamond in the rough, to be sure. I'd recommend the Beef Mushu and Kung Pao Chicken.

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