Monday, February 15, 2010

2/13/10-China Gourmet, Southington, CT

Admittedly, it has been years since I've had dinner here. When we were kids, Chinese food was a treat that we would only have once, maybe twice a year. I met Sheri in high school and her family restaurant, China Gourmet, became the go-to place for us to get takeout--back then, it was just the standards that you would expect on a Chinese takeout menu. I am happy to say that this place has evolved so much over time, now incorporating authentic, traditional dishes and a line of gourmet teas.

The dining room opens about 7pm (before then, it is only takeout business) and while it is tiny, it is worth the wait. Sheri talked us through the menu, offering suggestions and answering any questions we had. Tom and I both opted to try their specialty teas. Turns out that one of the owners, Annie, has a friend back in China who is a Tea Professor (who knew there was such a thing?!) and Annie has been putting together loose tea creations for a while now and they are something that anyone who enjoys tea should try.

Onto our meal--fried noodles and a sweet sauce for dipping were brought to the table for us to enjoy while perusing the menu. We started with the fried dumplings--to compare to any other place we've had, it was so fresh, you could tell by the loosely packed meat on the inside--it was not some mysterious looking meat mix that you can get other places. For our entrees, we tried some of the newer, authentic dishes--Tom had the Water-Braised Beef over veggies, with a sauce that gave it a nice bite of heat without being overpowering--nicely presented in a covered saute pan over a tea light warmer. I had the Peking Pork--when it arrived at the table, I was instructed to make sure that I got a bite of all three layers in one-the pork, julienned scallions and the slaw underneath-I understood why as soon as I took a bite, the sweetness of the sauce balanced with the crunch of the slaw and the slight bite of the onion all worked together nicely. It is impressive to find such innovative and authentic cuisine in such an off-the-beaten-path place. Tom is now hooked and it is safe to say we'll return especially since the prices are more than reasonable for something other than your typical takeout place.

No website, located in the Rochambeau plaza on the Meriden-Waterbury Tpke. in Southington.

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