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Ly Michael's

Capaneus | Nov 22, 2004 05:34 PM

Saturday impulse dinner: having trouble meeting companion's request for Thai, suggested this as an alternative while walking around Chinatown. Ordered an inexpensive Cal Syrah off the wine list ($22 - a very decent price for what turned out to be a drinkable if generic wine; there were several options in this price range, none of which I was familiar with).

Started with the app sampler, SO went with the potstickers. She must have known something I didn't: they were the class of the field, distinctly meaty and herbal, the soy-based sauce setting off the flavors, lightly crusty from the pan-frying. In general, anything in the dumpling family turned out to be quite good. The corn fritters and the crab cake were undistinguished, and the very sweet mango salsa did nothing to help.

For an entree I ordered the sauteed boar, which was a generous portion of stir-fried medallions, the slightly gamey nature of the meat nicely set off by asparagus and what think were pan juices deglazed with soy and oyster sauces and a hint of vinegar. Very tasty, if fairly standard, presentation. The other entree was a pretty good Pad Thai, which is harder to find in Philly than one might think. We skipped desert.

That for the plusses. The minuses... there is a distinct feel to suburban dining, which they have brought with them to the big city: the entrance is dominated by a counter and sitting area, and a big busy bar beyond it. They kept us waiting what I thought was unreasonably long, since I had seen several empty two-tops from outside (assigned-stations issues, I assume, one of my pet peeves). Service was amateurish, though attentive, and the decor was terribly generic, what with black-lacquered furniture and faux-stone tabletops. The whole thing felt distinctly like the point of the experience was quick turnaround - even though in practice it really wasn't, if that makes any sense. The wine list, although it carries a number of bottles at prices that are unusually low, has absolutely nothing of any distinction on it, should you wish to pay more for better quality, and the beer list tops out at Heineken.

If you don't mind the ambiance, and don't drink, I would have no trouble recommending this place. Which sort of makes me wonder why I would be reluctant to go back.

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