Restaurants & Bars 15

Denver/Boulder Hounds Met for Chinese Food

ClaireWalter | Feb 10, 200804:05 PM

Inspired and organized by Tatamagouche, who moved here from Boston were Hounds met in person now and then, a group of us decided to get together too. We had our sights on a dim sum place for our first gathering but decided it made sense to go somewhere that took reservations, since most of us didn't know each other -- and Denver's best dim sum-aries are mobbed on Sundays.

We picked Jing -- a modern Chinese restaurant that is very hip-looking (RLM observed that it looks like a restaurant in a JW Marriott), but it doesn't really serve dim sum (though we were told that it does). Still the food was tasty, if yuppified and gringo-ized, and most importantly, we were a congenial group looking forward to our next outing. I was deputized to post something here, so I'm lifting my comments from my own blog. Here goes -- and I hope some of the other Hounds will add their comments too.

The waitress said the dishes were served family-style so we could share, which must be a revelation of some sort in Denver's shiny new southern 'burbs. The tea came in a choice of yuppie flavors, served in a Western-style tea cup -- and tea bags! Several dishes marked on the menu as spicy were detuned. Nothing we ate had a real kick, even when it was supposed to. Steamed broccoli flowerettes and bits of red or green bell pepper garnished several dishes, and a slice of tomato graced at least one.

Here's what we ordered and what it cost: Crispy Shanghai Duck Rolls were flavorful and moist pulled Peking duck in a truly crisp wrapper with hoisin-plum sauce (two rolls, $8.) A quartet of Dragon Dumplings in a bamboo steamer were delicate Shanghai pork dumplings with sweet ginger-soy vinaigrette (four dumplings, $8). Even though the portion was modest, it was the most Chinese-looking dish of them all.

The Cool Lettuce Wraps consisted of four leaves of butter lettuce and a bowl of tasty minced chicken, finely chopped pine nuts and finely chopped shiitake mushrooms ($9). My husband also ordered a bowl of Wild Mushroom Sweet and Sour soup ($3), his favorite even without the wild mushrooms, that he said was very good.

Because it is close to Chinese New Year, a Chinese-American in our group reminded us that we had to have whole fish. We ordered two. Both were sea bass, served headless and very small for $30 each. The crispy fish with sweet and sour sauce was surprisingly rubbery and not all that crisp. The flesh of steamed fish with ginger-soy sauce and scallions had a nice flaky texture and a pleasnt, slightly nutty taste. We were told that we also had to have noodles, another New Year's tradition. The Chicken Lo Mein ($12) was delicious and included al dente green beans and substantial chunks of tender chicken.

The Peppercorn Tenderloin ($25) was a very modest portion of tender, large-cubed meat that had been stir-fried medium-rare and served with onion and red bell pepper slivers. Ma's Po Tofu ($13) was a tower of eight brick-shaped pieces of firm tofu encircled by steamed vegetables and topped with a shiny red, sweetish sauce that claimed to be Sichuan but wasn't. We had a bowl of white rice and a bowl of brown rice. I didn't look at the bill, so I don't know whether they came with the meal or were extra.

The manager apologized for the dim sum misunderstanding and listened to our comments that $30 was a high price for small fish, so she sent out one of each of three tasty desserts: a Strawberry-Banana Spring Roll with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, a Poached Asian Pear with a ginger crust and plum wine reduction, and Green Tea Fried Ice Cream. There were no fortune cookies.

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