Since this was a work meal and the restaurant was dark, I didn't take pictures of the food. I know, "excuses excuses," I'll just have to be extra descriptive! Everything was eaten family style.
We started out with appetizers:
(rock shrimp tempura and crab, rolled in bean paper wrappers with brown rice)
This was a weekly special. The flavors were well balanced and the sushi rice was well made. I wasn't left missing the more traditional seaweed wrapping, the alternative wrapping did a good job of highlighting the flavors of the rice and tempura.
Fried broccoli, carrot, asparagus, etc. This restaurant is a fine purveyor of the fry-o-later arts. Everything was very lightly battered and fried tender but not overdone.
Pork dumplings in sweet Szechuan chili sauce:
Yowza! This one was good. The sweet chili sauce almost reminded me of a Thai chili sauce that I get at Suwanasak. Great pork dumplings come swimming in that spicy sauce. Szechuan food is characterized by the interesting peppers that are used.
|Szechuan peppercorns. Photo by Nocas on flickr.com|
Sweet and sour soup:
People at dinner discussed this as a "canary" dish for Chinese restaurants. Because it is ubiquitous, the differences in the quality are very apparent. This was a nice thick soup made with a lot of very tasty Chinese mushrooms. This is more traditional preparation then many in Madison
Sliced Tender Cow Heels in Chili Sauce:
This was a great dish. Beef tendon that's been sliced very thin. Great texture and the sauce was another winner. If you are feeling adventurous I would suggest trying this dish. The texture isn't one that is often in the American palate, but it's not chewy or tough at all.
I have eaten a lot of walnut shrimp in my day. The sauce is a mixture or mayo, condensed milk, starch and lemon juice. It's a weighty sauce which isn't always well balanced with the shrimp. It can quickly stray into the territory of greasy. Obviously the shrimp are paramount, large, fresh shrimp made this dish a pleasure to eat. The candied walnuts were a delicious counterpoint to the creamy sauce. I would say that this was one of the best preparations of Walnut Shrimp I have had.
Dry Chili Chicken:
Yowza redux. Lightly floured pieces of chicken are fried with a massive amount of roughly chopped dried red peppers. So much flavor packed into every bite! For me this was one of the highlights of the evening. I will definitely be back for this dish.
Stir-fried Lamb with Cumin Powder:
This was a great dish, ruined by salt! They had 2-3x too much salt which was such a shame because the flavors were amazing in this dish. They took thin slices of lamb seasoned liberally with cumin and stir fried it with bell peppers. I ended up eating this dish with a bowl of rice to cut out some of the saltiness. I totally plan on stealing this dish and making it at home.
Steamed Whole Flounder with Ginger & Scallion:
The fish was well cooked and tender. The flavors were light and delicate. I would like the fish to have been never frozen and fresher, but this is what I get for living in a land locked state. It certainly was delicious and well prepared.
The atmosphere in the front room was sleek and slightly club like, lot of colored lights and open areas.
The bar is well stocked with an eclectic menu of specialty drinks. An Asian place with a Zombie on the drink menu? The drink service was a little slow but the cocktails were well made staples. Our server was bubbly and helpful though she didn't speak mandarin.
Overall I think the food was truer to food in China then pretty much anywhere else in Madison. There menu is large and full of amazing, authentic Chinese dishes. For Sushi/Japanese food, I think I would rather go to Sushi Muramoto.
VIP Asian Cuisine
Cost = $$ ($15-25)
Rating = 3 Sliced Tender Cow Heels/4
6718-6722 Odana Rd
Mon-Thur: 11:00am - 10:00pm
Fri- Sat: 11:00am - 10:30pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 10:00pm