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January 28, 2009

A Chinese New Year's treat at P. F. Chang's, and two new Chinese restaurants



Monday, in honor of the Chinese New Year, I got a press release from P. F. Chang's enumerating the new, special dishes debuting in honor of the Year of the Ox.

They were mahi-mahi, VIP duck, sesame chicken and "traditional egg rolls."

This last fascinates me. ...




It's just hard to imagine that "traditional egg rolls" would be worth a press release.

I know I could pick up the phone and call the PR person to get the story behind the egg rolls, but I prefer just to imagine the brainstorming session that came up with this. 

"I have an idea. Let's celebrate the New Year by adding EGG ROLLS  to the menu."

Gee, no Chinese restaurant has ever thought of that before.

But maybe "traditional egg rolls" are different from what we usually get on Chinese menus. Again, I know I could find out from the PR person. But what fun is that?

Here's the description:

An enticing appetizer filled with fresh pork and marinated vegetables. Served as a pair, the flavorful egg rolls are perfect for dipping in a special sweet & sour mustard sauce.

Actually I can't remember the last time I had an old-fashioned egg roll. I used to get them every once in awhile until Vietnamese spring rolls made their appearance on the local dining scene. When is the last time you had a fried egg roll? Maybe what's old is new again.

While I'm at it, in honor of the New Year I'm going to share a couple of e-mails I got from readers about Chinese restaurants they like. Here we go:

We have eaten several times at a recently opened, family run Chinese restaurant.  Not only is the food outstanding, but the owners are extremely accommodating.  The decor is very attractive and the restaurant appears to be quite clean. The prices are reasonable, the menu extensive, and the food is always fresh.  Because of it's hidden location and limited advertising budget many people are not aware of it  Since it is a small business I am hoping it will be successful.  Perhaps a review ( hopefully positive)  will introduce this restaurant to many more people. 

Please note that we have no financial interest in this restaurant other than it's success. The information about the restaurant is as follows:

Fortune House
3755 Old Court Road   suite F
Pikesville, Maryland  21208
Hours are
M-Th 11 am - 10 pm
F & S 11:30 am - 10:30 pm
Closed Sunday

And here's a second one:

We would like to call your attention to the fact that China Taste in the Perry Hall Crossing Shopping Center at 8750 Belair Road, Nottingham has changed hands. We had tried it a few times over the years and been unhappy with the food we were served.

We live quite close to the Lucky Inn in Parkville and used to eat there frequently. Our delightful waitress, Jenny Huang, was always most pleasant and accommodated all our needs. One day last year we learned that Jenny was leaving to take over China Taste. Her husband is a chef and a very good one. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas at China Taste. Mr. Huang on both days made Chinese style turkey and gifted each table with a platter of his creation.

Our small family cleaned that plate and it was delightful, more so considering the fact that our son is the only person who likes turkey.

We have switched our allegiance to China Taste because we eat there on a weekly basis and have had nothing that was not delicious. They also have a Sushi menu which is very good. We can't speak for the raw dishes as we are not that adventurous. Please consider visiting these kind and delightful people. We feel you would surely not be disappointed.

Lunch is served from 11:00 to 3:00 each day and they are open 7 days a week. Phone 410-529-9300

If you've eaten at either of these, let us know if they are as good as these readers say they are.


(Kenneth K. Lam/Sun photographer)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 7:15 AM | | Comments (15)


Raw dishes?

The only complaint about PF Chang's that I've ever had is that they didn't have real eggs rolls, they just had spring rolls. (It has never stopped me from eating there.) Now I have no complaints about PF Chang's, it appears.

Actually, I had a traditional fried egg roll on Friday. While looking through the stash in my desk drawer to post to that thread, I found some Chinese hot mustard packages, and that started me jonesing. Had to have one. (And it did hit the spot.) See what you wrought!

No but Lucky Inn is the best. I also LOVE Chopstix (especially the BYO wine part).

I thought all egg rolls were fried? I don't get them myself 'cause I don't do veggies (especially chopped unidentifiable ones) but I love eating the crust from other people's. And it is definitely fried. Or is that not an egg roll I'm thinking of?

And what makes duck VIP? Is it Donald or Daisy?

To get REAL old timey egg rolls, I think you still need to go to old timey Chinese restaurants. The newer (and cleaner) ones just don't seem to do the same magic with an eggroll that a good old (questionably clean) place does. Ding Ho in Woodmoor shopping center on Liberty road does a great eggroll.

Are egg rolls really Chinese, of one variety or another, or are they another Chinese-for-Americans thing?

No, its Daffy.

Lissa - It wouldn't surprise me that eggs rolls are a Chinese-for-American thing. But isn't PF Chang's a Chinese-for-Americans thing too? I mean, the PF stands for Paul Fleming.

That may be why I like PF Changs and egg rolls, as a matter of fact. I have American tastes.

I'm actually kind of embarrassed by how frequently I eat egg rolls. I have a pretty good idea of how unhealthy they are but they just taste so good.

Now I'm going to think about every egg roll as upholding a time-honored Chinese-for-Americans tradition. That might make me feel better.

Best egg rolls in America had to be the lobster rolls at Benny Hahn's on 52nd Street in New York City. If it's still there. If they still have them. If anyone can still afford them.

Bucky, I like egg rolls, too. I've no problem with inauthentic food if it is well-prepared from good ingredients.

I'd just think that the culture who gave us the Ching Ming would prefer accuracy.

Why don't we fill them with other things? I'd think they'd be lovely with an oil-based herby tuna salad inside, for example. Or nuts, cranberries and peaches.

Anyone ever have the egg roll's Filipino cousin, the lumpia? Rather similar and quite good. In addition to the veggies, ground pork or beef is added.
In my Navy days, the Filipino cooks for the officers and/or the admiral aboard would prepare them just for us disbursing clerks as a treat. Disbursing clerks did payroll, so everyone was nice to us.

I have shared office space with 2 Chinese women (not "Chinese-Americans") both of whom usually brought lunch from home; neither of whom ever had egg rolls in their lunch boxes. What they did bring looked and smelled unappetizing, which I don't mean as xenophobic as it seems. It's just that I don't much like American Chinese food, and probably would like real Chinese food even less.

But I DO like egg rolls, even though I've stopped ordering them because they're drenched in fat...

Fl Rob - we worked with a nurse a few years ago who is Philipino and would bring in a grocery bag full of lumpia from time to time. They were always gone in about 20 minutes! She could roll those things so tight, they looked like little cigars. And not greasy at all but so crisp and delicious.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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