Comfort in the familiar
If we truly are what we eat, then I am at least a quarter take-out Chinese. We all are, probably. As ubiquitous as Chinese restaurants are in this country, I am convinced that the easy availability of wonton soup and lemon chicken is the hallmark of our advanced civilization. Perhaps I exaggerate, but think for a moment what your life would be like without fried rice. Scary, huh?
Chinese Village looks teeny-tiny from the outside, but the façade is just the tip of a triangular floor plan that opens wide toward the back of the restaurant. The walls are a cool jade green—tastefully, if a bit predictably, decorated. Colorful tasseled lanterns hang from the high, open ceiling. The tables are draped in soft pink table linens.
While the menu here is probably duplicated countless times all over town, part of the comfort of going for Chinese food is the ability to get what you like with a minimum of fuss. While I can’t vouch for originality, the menu is at least diverse. All the bases are pretty much covered, and you are bound to find your favorite on it. Love lemon chicken? They’ve got it. Mad for Mongolian beef? Got that too. Very veggie? No problem. See? Everyone gets along.
Tony and I start with the po-po platter ($11), which is the basic assortment of appetizers. The highlights of this plate are the paper-wrapped chicken for its tender juiciness, the fried crab puff and the screaming hot spring rolls. I like the part where you blow on one end of your spring roll to cool it off, and hot oil comes out the other end onto the tender place between your thumb and forefinger. Ouch!
Soup is next, Tony with his egg flower and I with my chicken and corn. Both are a variation of egg flower soup, and both are quite good. Mine was especially silky and ever so slightly smoky.
Next comes the mu shu pork ($7.95). I genuinely enjoy the ritual of putting the elements of this dish together. Usually you spread a bit of plum sauce on the pao bin (that delicate little pancake), add the filling and roll it up similar to a burrito. While these were very tasty, they were rolled for us back in the kitchen and had started to get a bit papery around the edges.
Then the arrival of the garlic chicken ($7.95) announced itself in a cloud of steamy garlic vapor. The saucy bits of chicken and vegetables are vigorously garlicky, with big slices of garlic throughout. Remember, garlic is good for your vascular health. Don’t be a wimp and complain about the breath you have later. Suck it up and have a mint.
The service here is friendly, timely and tidy. We never had too many plates on the table for us to handle, and our water glasses were always full. It’s nice when one course flows into the next seamlessly.
Interesting features are the table candles that double as warmers for the pots of tea. I want one of these for when I’m writing so I don’t have to keep trekking my lukewarm drink to the microwave.
All kidding aside, it is great to live in a culture where you can find bagels, pizza and Chinese food on the same block as your dry cleaner. Isn’t that a little melting pot right there? God bless America. This gives me hope for the future.