Located in a new shopping center, the restaurant space is TINY. The interior literally consisted of six or seven tables crammed tightly together, with the majority of the tables reserved for larger parties. The space is definitely not for the claustrophobic and the presence of way too many Chinese families with screaming kids didn't help you feel more comfortable. Becuase of the no reservation policy and small space we waited about 45 min for a table for three. Not to mention that we were forced to wait inside the tiny restuarant, practically standing elbow to elbow with diner. At one point, I was forced to stand inches away from a cook as he performed the tableside carving of Peking Duck.
I had called earlier to ask about the corkage fee and had been told it weak $5 per bottle. As we were being seated, the manager saw our bottle of wine and told me that corkage was $10. After I politely mentioned to the manager that I had called earlier and spoken to HER and been told $5, she quickly and suspiciously acquiesced (shady shady). Then when wine glasses were brought out, one glass very extremely dirty, but our waiter quickly fixed the problem and other than that, we didn't encounter any more problems throughout the meal.
The menu ran the gamut from Americanized "General Tsoa's Chicken", to other dishes I had never heard of.
First up was one of my favorite Chinese appetizers--fried bread. The bread was nice and crispy on the exterior but the interior wasn't as warm as it could have been. Also, it was a little bland and could have benefitted from a more generous use of salt in the dough.
Then came the chive and pork dumplings.The dumplings were very juicy and amptly filled with the pork and chive mixture. The wrapper skin was a little thick and chewy, but still very enjoyable. Most of the dumplings contained a good amount of juice and went very well with the soy/vinegar dipping sauce that was provided.
Then came the Ma Pou Tofu.The was the table's favorite dish. Thick chunks of tofu swimming in a hot and spicy sauce.
Then came the "House Special spicy Stir Fry with Ground Pork", which was listed under section for Tri Village Specialties. Imagine bushels of chives mixed with a handful of diced baked tofu and a sprinkling of ground pork. In case your imagination sucks, it was like eating raw chives, not too exciting unless you really dig eating onions. This dish just had way too much chive and not enough pork. Again, we had ordered a "spicy" dish and indeed this dish delivered a punch which was the only flavor present beside the oniony chives.
The last dish of the night was the "spicy chicken".
This was a really interesting combo of chicken and chunks of satueed cucumber. The cucumber worked surprisingly well, providing a nice crunch along with the water chestnuts. The problem with this dish was the taste was very unbalanced due to the overwhelming taste of vinegar.
I wasn't really impressed with Tri Village. To begin with, the wait and small space really put me off. Another problem I had was that even though the main dishes had very generous portions, Tri Village charges for steamed rice by the person and then gives you the smallest amount of rice humanly possible. Our three person serving of rice was less than the scoop of rice that comes on a Hawaiian plate lunch.
Looking past the long wait and shady corkage policy, the food didn't knock my socks off. It seemed as if they used heat as the prevalent flavor, and relied on that to mask their inability to produce any other flavor component. The food wasn't bad, it just good enough to justify a forty-five minute wait and an uncomfortable dining experience.
Tri Village Chinese Cuisine
14121 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, Ca 92620
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