Friday, May 28, 2010

Ethnic Picnic – Chinese

Chinese cuisine (the American version) was an early love of mine that continues to this day. I remember going to the Iowa State Fair as a child and requesting from my parents that my big treat be a heaping plate of shrimp fried rice! I know - most people want something fried on a stick, but not me. (Maybe my love of shrimp influenced this a bit, too.)

The Chinese restaurant that tops my list at this point is PF Chang’s. I’ve often been heard saying that their shrimp fried rice must have crack in it because it’s so addicting! I really don’t know what their secret ingredient is but I would like to buy stock in it. And it’s one of the most inexpensive items on their menu, which can be a bit pricey at times. It’s also one of their least healthy menu items, since “The Chang’s” (as it’s often referred to endearingly by some in my crew), is pretty health conscious. That’s a step in the right direction for Chinese food in America, since this is one of the premiere MSG cuisines. In any case, my other “must have” when you dine at The Chang’s is their chicken lettuce wraps. Divine! It’s a chicken mixture, but don’t ask me what all is in it. It doesn’t matter anyway. I’ve had several friends that I’ve introduced to these delightful appetizers, who have exclaimed their amazement over enjoying them so much since they wouldn’t normally eat some of the ingredients separately. So give them a try! It’s all chopped up pretty finely anyway. And these are also not too expensive. My husband actually orders them as his entrée a good portion of the time when we dine there.

A good finish to this exquisite meal is a mini dessert. They have about 8 different mini desserts for $1.99 each, like tiramisu, key lime pie, ice cream sundae and strawberry cheesecake. But if you’re very adventurous, you’ll split the banana spring rolls dessert. It’s so different from any other dessert out there and really tasty. Four pieces of banana, wrapped in spring roll wontons and fried, so they’re warm and gooey, decorate the edges of a plate, with a center display of coconut ice cream, caramel drizzle and fresh berries. Have I caught you drooling or did I scare you away with warm bananas & talk of coconut?! Believe me, if you’re not intimidated by trying new things (or by tropical fruit!), you will be amazed by this dessert. Nothing beats it for me and it leaves you feeling less weighed down than the flourless chocolate cake, which is also delicious, but a bit too rich to finish in one sitting, even if you’re sharing it with someone.

Good, classic Chinese can be found at China Road, though it is rather pricey, in my opinion. You do get quite a bit of food, though. For the cheapskates like me, you can’t beat Imperial Palace Westroads Mall’s food court. A classic since college days! And Ming’s in Papillion is the fastest, cheapest Chinese there is. They don’t take credit or debit cards, though, so be prepared with cash or checks. And I’ve felt the quality in some dishes to be lacking there at times (probably due to the aforementioned “fastest” and “cheapest”), but I’ve really liked others.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a big fan of "The Chang's" myself. I too, would never have tried the lettuce wraps on my own accord, but was encouraged too and was very surprised.