Last Friday night, my wife took our two daughters and some friends to Disney on Ice, so my 8-year old son and I used the opportunity to have a "guys night out". After watching Woodside High's football team lay a whupping on their undermanned opponents from Hillsdale High, and having been manly (read "stupid") enough to have left our jackets in the car, we were COLD and hungry.
I remembered seeing an ad for a new sichuan place that had opened in the Target shopping center on El Camino, just south of Woodside Road, and thoughts quickly turned to raising my internal temperature with some soup. My son took some convincing, as he is usually far more interested in fast food.
We arrived at a fairly empty restaurant, never a good sign. But it was late (9ish), and they'd only been open for three weeks, so hopefully things will pick up. The bright side of this was that we get pretty attentive service.
Despite the fact that it was just the two of us, and my son would've been happy with just some orange chicken and some steamed rice, and I could've easily filled up on only soup, the menu looked very inviting, so I decided to order as though the whole family was there, and bring leftovers home for the next day's lunch.
Wonton soup was excellent, with julienne strips of ham and some sort of leafy green (spinach, maybe) accompanying the nicely flavored wontons.
We also ordered the appetizer sampler (here they call it the "Bao Bao Tray"), which featured two each of: fried prawns (nice - not too soggy with oil, and not over-fried crunchy, either), paper wrapped chicken (not the best or worst I've ever had), egg rolls (my son gobbled both of these right up, so I can't comment, but I'm quite sure he'd recommend them whole-heartedly), teriyaki chicken skewers (ok), and fried wontons, as well as a few small pieces of some rather unremarkable pork spareribs.
The fried wontons are of interest, however - the restaurant offers them in two varieties - filled with "cheese" (cream cheese, I assume?) or filled with red bean paste. That night, they had run out of the "cheese" version. My son wasn't paying attention when this fact came up, fortunately, as I'm quite sure the words "red bean paste" would have sent him running for the hills. I cannot stress enough the fact the my son is the least adventurous eater I have ever known. His two sisters (one older, one younger) are often willing to try new things (my 6 year old recently dicovered that she LOVES cucumber!), but the boy is really really closed-minded when it comes to what he puts in his mouth. Having not heard about what was inside the wontons, however, he took a bite, and was simultaneouly intrigued and thrilled ("Dad, there's some weird brown stuff in these wontons, but it's really good!")
On with the show - I ordered the little man his obligatory orange chicken, with the usual entreaty that it be prepared "extremely mild". Upon his first bite, he remarked that it was "a little spicy, but it's still good". I ended up trying a piece, and was surprised by the amount of chile heat. But it was decent stuff, definitely a notch or two better than the Panda Express-type version.
The vegetable fried rice was excellent, with nice, quality, pieces of brocolli, snow peas, onions, and I don't remember what else. It wasn't overly greasy, nor was there an overabundance of soy sauce - two things that can often go wrong with fried rice.
I did order one thing from the sichuan section of the menu - the sauteed chinese greens, and this was definitely the highlight of the meal for me. I just can't say enough about how they were sauteed to just the right amount of doneness, had just the right amount of garlic, etc. Yummy!
I'm eager to get back there soon, if nothing else just to get those greens again, and sample another one of their soups. Maybe some hounds that are more sichuan-savvy can point me in the right direction as far as that section of the menu - I'm pretty ignorant in that regard.
I'd definitely recommend this place, and, given the recent history of failed restaurants in this space, I'd suggest getting down there sooner than later.
2525 El Camino Real
(In the shopping center with Target and Chuck E. Cheese)
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