Since someone's bound to ask, that's "Taking One For The Team." But it really wasn't that bad.
Even though I can't find any buzz about TPS, which has been around for more than 30 years, I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame after perusing its menu one day on a trip to Utopia Cafe. The dim sum portion of the menu lists a dazzling array of snacks, mostly of a Shanghainese or other Northern or Western Chinese bent, which are flagged as specialties of the house, and are almost rock-bottom cheap.
When I wandered in, just after the horrendous New Year's day downpour, I found myself in my recurrent nightmare of being in a Chinese Restauarant where all the patrons are white (see my post on Hunan Home's), as three Caucasian couples were the only other diners. However, they apeared younger and more travel-worn than the well-scrubbed families and couples at Hunan Home's, who looked like they may have been fans of the Los Altos branch "slumming" it in Chinatown on New Year's Eve.
I ordered xiaolong bao (natch), pork pot stickers, salty doujiang (I thought) and youtiao to go with it.
The xiaolong bao (6 for $4.95) got an "A" for appearance. They were cookbook picture-perfect in form (if a tad too large), and symmetrically aranged on a bed of large lettuce leaves in a stainless steel steamer. Unfortunately, I don't eat with my eyes. The filling appeared to be basic cabbagy pork jiaozi/pot sticker filling doing double duty, bland and with NO "soup" to speak of.
The pot stickers also looked like they were posing for a picture, with a perfect crescent shape, golden browned but not charred. Like the xiaolong bao, the filling was bland and dry, less savory than the walkaway pot stickers at, say, You's. They were fat and meaty nonetheless, and $3.95 for a small order of four (for $4.95 you can get the "large" order of eight).
Through a communications mixup, I was brought sweet doujiang instead of the salty I had ordered. It was a HUGE bowl for $2.95, and I simply declined it instead of re-ordering, and was not charged for it. The youtiao was nicely crunchy and not too oily, but I don't know if it was house-made.
While I was where, a table of five young Chinese was seated (to my relief!) Their extra-large orders of pot stickers were also arranged tastefully on big plates, as was a big order of congyou bing (onion pan cakes) which at least LOOKED good.
Despite my disappointment, I'll probably be back to try other offerings (can they dumb down dumplings in chili oil?). The food at worst was still tasty and filling enough, not unhealthy and bargain priced, and The Pot Sticker happens to be well within the range of my morning constitutional.
The Pot Sticker
150 Waverly Place
(across from Utopia Cafe)
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