Looks like no one has written yet about the Friendship Chinese Restaurant special dinner from this past Saturday, so I'll take the plunge.
FYI JiminLoganSqaure posted a heads up about this dinner a few weeks ago (see link below). Thank you Jim!
Dinner was a six course prix fixe affair. The six courses were:
Panko Crusted Crab Cake on Watercress with Szechwan Chili Aioli
Seafood Cream of Corn Soup with Lobster Broth
Peking Duck Wrap and Duck Confit in Taro Root Basket with Mandarin Orange Grand Marnier Sauce
Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass on Seaweed Salad with Gingered Sweet Soy and Chili Oil
Wok Roasted Mushroom Caps on Chicken Flavored Sticky Rice
Ginger-Scented Tofu Cheese Cake and Sweet Purple Yam Ice Cream with Raspberry Coulis.
(Note: This list was just cut and pasted from JiminLoganSquare's original heads up posting about this dinner, so credit goes to him for taking the time to write up the food in such detail).
I. Crab Cake: Both my wife and I loved this. The texture and flavor of the crab cake were great, and the szechwan chili aioli was delicious just the right amount of heat to add to the flavors without dominating them. One interesting note: the crab cakes were served with a dollop of ketchup on the side (I guess for those who really want ketchup with their crab cakes). I thought it was a humorous and considerate touch (though personally I thought the ketchup completely overwhelmed the crab cake), but it did take away from some of the aesthetic value of the actual plating.
II. Soup: Very tasty. This seemed almost like a seafood wonton soup to me.
III. Duck: Outstanding. Probably my favorite of the night, my wife's also. The duck came as a little taro cup (basically a "cupcake" shell made of taro root) filled with pieces of duck confit, and a peking duck wrap was served straddling the basket. The whole thing was over a delicious orange sauce. Just great. I'm having a Homer moment thinking about it (Mmmmmm . . . . duck)
IV. Sea Bass: We were both disappointed in this dish. My wife's piece of sea bass was rather bony and a bit too thick, mine free of bones but still too thick. The fish itself was simply prepared and neutral teasting. The sauce it was served over was very sweet, we thought -- too sweet, really. Not a bad dish, but for our tastes this was the least impressive of the 6 courses (and the only non-delicious one).
V. Mushrooms: Delicious. The textural contrast of the chewy mushrooms with the sticky rice was pleasing in its own right, never mind the great flavors.
VI. Dessert: Not being the biggest tofu fans, we were both a little wary of the tofu cheesecake, but both loved it. My wife didn't care for the purple yam ice cream, but I liked it enough to finish both of ours off.
As Jim mentioned in his original post, the dinner also features a group of musicians. The music started later than planned (about an hour late) and started up after the 5th course. The musicians were all chef friends of the owner (actually, I think, if I heard correctly, that they all worked with the dad of the chef-owner of Friendship Chinese restaurant). The music itself I could do without, but there was a certain charm to the whole affair. The music was still going when we left so it's certainly possible they started getting their groove on only after we left. I don't know if they get different musicians for each dinner, if this is the regular group.
The dinner was entirely BYO (no corkage fee) and they provided some nice stemware (flutes for our champagne, large goblets for our stills).
Service was friendly and efficient, and we both thought the courses were well paced and served in good amounts (we didn't leave stuffed, but we definitely weren't hungry).
The cost was 39.50 per diner.
We were both blown away at the low cost. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief of the value.
This was our first Friendship special dinner event (they do one every few months?) The whole scene was very friendly and festive and if the quality of this past meal is indicative of what you get at the special dinners, we will definitely be going back.
Thank you JiminLoganSquare for the heads up!
Friendship Chinese Restaurant
2830 N Milwaukee Ave