Chopstick thieves at large

Photo by David Robert

As much as I like to avoid the use of absolutes, I would like to point out that anyone who doesn’t like Chinese food is out of his or her mind. Like pizza, another Americanized cuisine, Chinese food is even acceptable when mediocre. And when it is good, it almost has nothing to do with how authentic it is.

There is something about Chinese food—and it isn’t the occasional use of MSG—that makes it so universally appealing. Kids even like it, though it generally contains more vegetables than they would see fit to eat. Chinese food makes it possible for me to eat broccoli, a prospect that my mother wishes she had thought of earlier.

Most of the usual suspects on a Chinese take-out menu are only the barest tip of the culinary iceberg. Ubiquitous cashew chicken, sweet and sour pork and Mongolian beef have woven their way into the cravings of even the most die-hard of the meat-and-potatoes set. In any shopping mall from Maine to New Mexico, you will undoubtedly be able to obtain an egg roll. This is nothing short of amazing.

Potsticker House is in Sparks, but it could just as well be Topeka or Tarzana. That is not a bad thing—far from it. In my opinion, the first thing one should do upon moving to a new neighborhood is to find reliable Chinese take-out.

In fact, it appears that Potsticker House has a robust take-out business. While my husband, Tony, and I chose to dine in, quite a few people came in to order items to go. The dining room is utilitarian and square, the walls adorned with a riot of silk greenery. We ordered at the counter and grabbed drinks from the cooler.

We didn’t have long to wait. Our first order of business was to tackle an order of—you guessed it—potstickers ($4.75 for eight large dumplings). The plump pork dumplings were pan-fried, with crisp, golden bottoms that had a clean, non-greasy crunch. Longtime readers of mine will remember what a fondness I have for any food rendered in dumpling form. Yum.

Then our combination plates arrived, contents brimming over their Styrofoam boundaries. Mine was half-covered with slick, savory chow mein noodles, with two entrée choices ($4.65), lemon chicken and beef with vegetables.

The lemon chicken was pretty standard, with fried pillows of chicken dredged, but not quite drowning, in the sweet, preternaturally yellow sauce. The beef with vegetables tasted very fresh and contained zucchini, carrots, broccoli (yes, I ate it, mom!), baby corn, snow peas and more. The meat was thinly sliced and just a little bland, but the overall effect was light and crisp.

Tony’s plate was similarly laden with a positively hedonistic pile of pork fried rice and a double helping of honey and garlic chicken ($4.65). The chicken was prepared similarly to the lemon chicken, but the sauce was less sweet and redolent with garlic. I liked it even better than what was on my plate.

I have found that if you are adept at the use of chopsticks, it facilitates stealing from a plate on the other side of the table. I am sure Tony noticed my theft, but we have been married long enough to ignore such trivialities.

By the time we finished gorging ourselves, we looked at our plates and realized that we had enough leftovers for another night’s dinner. I tried to switch boxes with Tony in the car, but he isn’t that dense. I guess we’ll have to go to Potsticker House again.