I probably should post these separately (what do you think?), but find myself thinking about space....
Anyway, the first two comments concern the two Chinese restaurants in Lexington Center: Yangtze River and Peking Garden. Last week three of us went to Yangtze River at lunch. I had been noticing changes there--like chocolate cake on the buffet and no rice (!), and I finally got to talk with the waiter whom I am sort-of friends with. He said, among other things, that there is a new manager. I have to wonder whether there is a new chef too, because some of the items that we ordered were odd in ways I had never seen before--like a totally flat, greasy scallion pancake--about the thickness of half a pita bread. This was not an improvement. And a friend got the egg drop soup. I have never ordered this, but I have sure seen it enough times. Since when does YR's version have hunks of tomato in it? And my friend said it also contained corn, among other things.... Also, the hot and sour soup, which I always get, seems to have deteriorated. Oh well.
We also decided to try Peking Garden again last week. I have never been a fan of them, except for dim sum when I am desperate, and I was into eating their buffets for a while. They were okay, I guess. Anyway, I recently read a positive review about PG and decided the buffet was probably not a good way to judge the restaurant. Anyway, the reviewer indicated their hot and sour soup was perfect, and I therefore hoped the stuff one ordered somehow differed from the stuff on the buffet. My daughter got the Peking noodles, which she had enjoyed at dim sum, and they were most insipid. The meat was either really fatty or it was very uncooked. I don't think I want to know. Out of deference to my daughter, I decided to try the satay chow foon (not sure that is what they call the noodles). It was semiedible. Again, the meat seemed uncooked. I will say that there were a lot more meat and veggies than there have been in the noodle preparations on the dim sum menu--which I have decided are not too worthwhile, unless one has a craving for rice cakes.... And the hot and sour soup was just as dreadful as the stuff on the buffet; it tasted just the same. (Does anyone know where one can get a super version?) We also got the chicken wing appetizer, which was much too heavily seasoned with five-spice powder. (I vastly prefer Yangtze River's light hand in this regard.) The wings also had quite a lot of feathers on them, something I have not seen since the distant past when my mother had to singe the feathers off of chicken ere she cooked it. These could have used some of that treatment!
The third disappointment occurred today at New Jang Su B.B.Q Restaurant in Burlington. My daughter and I went there quite a lot last year until we decided the service was just too awful. A month or so ago, I tried it again because they do have good bibimbap--much better than Dabin's. It turns out that the awful manager and equally awful and inattentive waitress were gone. The service was actually good! I finally persuaded my daughter to go back with me today. We had always liked their shrimp tempura, whose batter was intriguingly chewy inside (and crisp on the outside, of course). In fact, we thought it was the best tempura around, although different from the ideal Japanese version. Imagine our disappointment when what arrived obviously was not what we had such pleasant memories of. It was totally lackluster. And the veggie part of the tempura seemed soggy and stale. The chap chae was also a disappointment. It seemed greasier than it had been in the past, and the noodles were not as resilient as they had been in days of yore. I guess we will be looking elsewhere for Korean food now. (Does anyone know who has a deep-fried shrimp with a kind-of chewy texture? And who has the best chap chae around?)
After such a disappointment, we had to drown our sorrows with a pearl tea at Burlington Mall. I have not seen anyone (else) commenting on this yet, although I did post about it here a couple of days after the cart opened. My daughter and I have been there almost every day since then. She ALWAYS gets coconut, while my order varies. The strength of the flavoring varies day by day, so sometimes it is better than other times, and some flavors seem to be more "forgiving"--especially the jasmine tea. The softness of the pearls also varies. I think they have been truly suboptimal three times: once slightly undercooked, and twice too soft. You obviously want at least a bit of resilience. All in all, though, I am very pleased to have access to this in the 'burbs.