Tucked away in a strip mall on Delsea Drive in Glassboro is an unpretentious restaurant where extraordinary food is served. In spite of a Best of Philly award from Philadelphia Magazine in 2000, La Quarsine, named for the four cuisines it serves, is still an insiders treasure, patronized primarily by the professors and administrators of nearby Rowan University. What those insiders have had to themselves is a congenial place where they can enjoy exquisitely prepared French, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
On a recent family outing, six of us sampled fare from each of the four cuisines, and were delighted with every dish. For appetizers, we had Fried Shrimp and Pork Dumplings (Chinese), Truffle Chicken Liver Pate (French), Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Satay Chicken on Bamboo Skewers (Thai) and a family favorite, Escargots with Butter and Garlic Sauce (also French). For entrees, two of us had the best Pad Thai (rice noodles stir fried with pork, shrimp, bean sprouts, peppers, scallions, and ground peanuts) we have ever tasted. Other entrees were a succulent Rack of Lamb (French - served rare as ordered, with a classic bearnaise sauce), Singapore Noodle (a Chinese stir-fried rice noodle dish, with chicken, bean sprouts and scallions), Triple Mu Shu (a variation on the Chinese classic, with pork, shrimp and chicken, stir-fried with vegetables and served with crepe-like pancakes), and Vietnamese Pan-Fried Bay Prawns, served with rice and delicately steamed snow peas.
Other favorites enjoyed on various occasions include Chicken Green Curry (Thai), Basil Chicken (Thai), Pan-Fried Filet of Fish (Vietnamese) and Shrimp & Pork Crispy Noodle (Vietnamese). All dishes are prepared with care using high-quality, exquisitely fresh ingredients, yet the prices are modest, with most dinner entrees ranging in price from $10.95 to $13.95 (dishes from the French portion of the menu are a bit higher). At lunch, the entrees are priced $2.00 to $4.00 lower.)
If you like hot and spicy food, you can choose from among six spiciness levels listed on the menu, ranging from mild through medium, very hot, extremely hot, Thai hot to eye-watering, sinus-clearing Asian hot. Among initiates, a 7th level is known as Drew hot, named for Drew Calandrella, vice president for student affairs at Rowan University. Drew hot includes Habanero chiles in the mix of ground peppers used for seasoning. One of the contributors to this piece, Marcia, actually prefers a level that might be called Drew-plus. (Bob, somewhat less macho, settles for Thai hot.) The point of all this is that you can get your dishes at La Quarsine as hot or as mild as you like, and that the staff will customize its preparation to your taste.
La Quarsine is owned and run by a young Vietnamese couple, Kent, who is the multi-talented chef, and Jenny (Vietnamese-born, but actually ethnic Chinese), who is the hostess and business manager. One of the delights of the place is the opportunity to talk to Jenny about food. She is an experienced chef herself, with encyclopedic knowledge of food and food preparation.
Bring your favorite wine or beer when you visit! We have found that Shiraz is the best wine to accompany the Asian cuisines served at La Quarsine.
La Quarsine Restaurant
512 N. Delsea Dr.
Mon. - Fri. Lunch, 12:00 - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner, 4:00 - 10:00 p.m.
Saturday Dinner, 2:00 - 10:00 p.m.