Mom, Dad, BF, Friend and I all went to Spices II this past Thursday when the wait at Burma SuperStar was (once again) out the door at 8:15 when we got there.
First, the decor is a little, um, "busy" which didn't bother me. BF mentioned he could have done with out the "Chinese Power Ballads" that kept playing. (Think karaoke bar sans live singers.) The decor is funky and fun, which is nice for this neighborhood, it was lively, which most other place aren't.
On to the CHOW!
Salt & Pepper Squid
Three Spiced Chicken (with bone)
Fire - Burst!/Mongolian Beef
Eggplant with Fresh Garlic and Basil
Dry Braised String Beans
The S & P squid was very VERY good, not too spicy at all. The pieces were a nice size, and not rubbery or chewy as some calamari can be. BF wanted a second order, but we waited it out.
Cumin lamb was a hit with Dad and Friend. I wasn't a big fan, as the cumin flavor overpowered the lamb so it just tasted like cumin...that was it. Dad and Friend both devoured it, so I guess this one is a preference issue. The meat was tender, I just didn't like the preparation.
Mongolian beef was a really good rendition of this dish. As with everything, the dish was mined with sliced jalapenos, which were easily avoided. The dish had good flavor, and the cuts of meat were tasty, and not too small as to make them hard to chew or chewy as these cuts can sometimes be.
The Eggplant w/ fresh garlic and basil (recommended over the eggplant w/ garlic sauce) was AMAZING. I have discovered eggplant in the last year, and this was the best rendition done in an Asian style I have found. The menu does not mention the leeks that are in the dish, but these added a very nice depth of flavor and texture. My BF who will tolerate trying eggplant to humor me said this was the best he had also had. It was cooked so the eggplant was not slimy, but also so that the skin was not still tough, a difficult balance sometimes. Looked like they used Thai eggplant in this dish as the eggplants were small cuts. Again...YUM!
Dry Braised string beans were pretty standard, and again, not too hot. They were tasty, and the green beans were cooked to the correct doneness so they still had a snap when you bit in to them. They sauce was not gloppy and was slight but clung to eat bean to make each bite just as yummy as the next.
Mom's favorite, the Three Spiced Chicken (with bone) MUST get a better description on the menu! It came beautifully presented as little pieces (2 x 2 chunks) swimming (or something) in a woven bowl full of red chilies. You actually had to root around for these little morsels, like a fried chicken hunting expedition. Each morsel was tender, and well spiced and then deep-fried. The crust was delicious and just the right balance of salt, fried yumminess and heat. As I said, this was mom's favorite, and all the others liked it, except for Dad who is a bone-o-phobe. My only problem with this dish is the malpractice waiting to happen, these chunks aren't big and neither are the bones you are eating around. Still, a very tasty dish.
One note, I typically can't "handle" really spicy food, and NOTHING we ordered was even near too hot for me. It might have been because we were non-Asian, I don't know, but we ordered all one and two * dishes, and I could eat them all with ease. (Friend ate whole red chili pepper, which proved to be spiciest thing on the table!) We went there specifically so Dad could get some REALLY hot food, and that was not delivered, which I guess, for me, is better anyway.
After all was said and done, after 11 beers, 5 dishes, tax & tip, the grand total was $100 for the 5 of us. Not too shabby.
Another note...we saw some whole fish dish on the way out that looked AMAZING!