Stop the Presses!!!
In a day that will go down in the famed annals of The Chinese Quest when our story is completely written one day (what a play on words!), The Chinese Quest had the great pleasure, and honor, of being joined this evening by Long Island’s premier Food Reporter, Newsday’s Erica Marcus. The setting for this evening’s Quest was “Ancient Ginger”, an authentic Chinese restaurant located at 556 N. Country Road (Rte 25A), St. James, NY.
For a Thursday night the restaurant was fairly full when we arrived, and there was a healthy number of take out orders ready to be picked up. Clearly this was a favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant among the locals. And for good reason too!
Our server, Olivia, was very welcoming and gracious, and as usual we left the ordering completely up to her. We told her we’d like to be delighted by some of their favorite dishes, and to serve us a meal across all different cuisines (Cantonese, and Szechuan), and beef, chicken, pork, seafood, etc. Their dishes were primarily Cantonese style.
While Olivia was left to her own devices to devise the special menu for us, she started us off with our favorite starter dish, spare ribs. I, for one Mee, found these ribs to be quite tasty and meaty enough. Not the kind that falls off the bone, but the type of spare ribs that I remember ordering as a young lad in my neighborhood Chinese restaurant growing up.
Mee Har Vee encouraged everyone to bring a bottle of their favorite wine, or to extend our envelopes, and pick up something we’d never tried before, and he would pair them with our dishes. We were amazed at the subtle differences in the taste of the wines when drinking them before and with the dishes. Every time we learn something new, and combining wine with Chinese food makes the potential combinations almost infinite.
In short order we were served our main dishes. Brought out three at a time not to overwhelm us, but so that we could pair the wines and enjoy the subtle tastes that each dish brought to our palate. We weren’t blown away by any of the dishes, but I wouldn’t say we were disappointed either. I, for one, found the dishes to be tasty, moist, not overwhelming, but not too understated.
- Spare ribs – as noted above
- Moo Goo Gai Pan – if ever a dish sounded like an Americanized Chinese dish, Moo Goo Gai Pan is one I remember from my earliest of days eating Chinese food. And believe it or not, I had never tried it until tonight. I liked it!
- Beef with Mixed Vegetables
- Spinach, Chicken, Scallops, and Beef
- Chicken Pineapple Fried Rice
- Pineapple Chicken and Shrimp
- With Three (Chicken, Scallops, Jumbo Shrimp with Chinese Vegetables) – This is the only dish that had a hint of Szechuan style cooking, having a wee little kick to it. It was nice to have a slightly spicy dish after a few Cantonese style dishes.
- Yellow Prawn – Fried with mayonnaise on top. Normally I try to stay away from fried foods, but this was remarkably light, and the topping (I’m not a mayo fan) was alright. Though I wouldn’t order an entire dish for myself.
All in all I would rate this as a fine go to Chinese restaurant if it were in my neighborhood. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate dining there if it were close by and convenient. And isn’t convenience and comfort one of the many reasons that we love our Chinese food?
Some of the comments heard at the table were:
Everything tasted the same. Again with the chicken breast? (Oy Vey!)
Food was prepared well but lacked originality and creativity
Here are our ratings:
Desert was a colorful plate of very tasty orange slices and pineapple. They really love their pineapple, and thankfully, so do I!
With our dessert we received a bunch of fortune cookies (I think tonight was our lucky night!)
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Hugs are life’s rainbows.
A short saying oft contains much wisdom. (I think I write too much!)
Every artist was first an amateur. (I don’t get this one)
If you want to win anything-a race, your self, your life-you have to go a little beserk. (this explains a few things for sure 😉 )
Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now.
The road to success is always under construction. (I guess New York will eventually make it!)
In parting, I want to thank Erica for joining us this evening. Let the record officially state that Erica was the first person of the female persuasion to join us on our Quest, and we pray that she had a good time and enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed hers. In addition, Erica brought along a photographer. And, we can only pray that we didn’t break any of her camera lenses.
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)