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Our Quest has taken us to many varied styles of Chinese cuisine. Throughout this journey, our Chinese palettes have matured and grown. I have eaten some of the most delicious food in my life on this Quest, and I might add for usually not too much money. This is the up side, but there is a down side. No longer do these old time Chinese restaurants satisfy us. What we have grown up believing was Chinese food is not really the case. To really enjoy true Chinese food, you must get out of your neighborhood, and get out of your comfort zone. If you take the time to explore, you will be rewarded with a cuisine that has stood the test of time.
For example, our July Chinese excursion took us to Baybridge Chinese Szechuan Cuisine located at 208-06 Cross Island Parkway in Bayside. This 28 year old Bayside institution is about as “old school” as they come. In spite of it’s Szechuan cuisine, Baybridge has that familiar air of “Jewish-Chinese” that we all grew up with. The restaurant is medium sized with about fifteen tables. I got the sense that they must do a healthy take out business servicing the needs of our fellow hungry Hebrews. We get seated right away, and four waiters converged on the table like a well oiled machine. Like a race car pit stop, our water, fried noodles, mustard, and duck sauce are on the table, with our napkins unfolded and handed out. I must say that I was impressed with the service. Jim, our waiter for the evening was very pleasant and professional. The fried noodles are the flat, wide, greasy variety that did an excellent job of quelling my hunger. Unfortunately, the food did not hold up as well. Our first observation about the restaurant was that there were no Asians eating dinner, never a good sign!! I cannot honestly say that the food was bad, but mostly boring, and lacking taste.
Appetizers included Spare Ribs and Steamed Pork Buns. The Spare Ribs are not too meaty, slightly dry, but not bad with a little help from Mister duck sauce. The Steamed Pork Buns were way too doughy, although the pork meat center was rather tasty. A little less bun, and a lot more pork would have solved that problem.
Entrees for the evening consisted of Moo Shu Chicken, Mongolian Two Flavor, and Sauteed Baby Bok Choy with Garlic. The Moo Shu Chicken tasted OK, served with the standard pancake, hoison sauce, and chicken. The Mongolian Two Flavor came highly recommended. It was prepared with chicken and shrimp with red peppers, black beans, and scallions. This dish was supposed to be Szechuan inspired with some kick to it. It tasted more like something you could buy in a Trader Joe’s frozen section. The Bok Choy lacked flavor in spite of the advertised garlic. You know there is a problem when we stop at three entrees.
Is Americanized Chinese food dead in America? While it still brings us comfort to enjoy the Chinese food we grew accustomed to in our youth, as the world has grown smaller and we have become more receptive to new flavors, spices, and with a growing appreciation of the diversity of human-kind, we foresee the explosion of authentic eating options continuing to flourish and prosper. And we, The Chinese Quest endorse this shift in paradigm. Bring us more of your best!
What are your thoughts on this trend? Please post your comments below.
All for now,
Mee Tsu Yan