Last week for my eating club we went to In Soo, which was highly recommended by the fine people here on Chowhound.com. THANK YOU!!! It is in Chinatown (Olive, just east of 170). While previous reviews by others had me worried about available table space, they were quite able to manage our reservation called in at 12 noon day of for 8 people. In Soo is dimly lit, and refreshingly undecorated by the usual Chinese gee-gaws. The colors are earth-tone and soothing. Children would not be out of place here and parking was adequate. We were exuberantly greeted by a woman who appeared to have had her fill of whatever it is that the Chinese drink when they want to be drunk. Or maybe she was just really glad to see us. She even kissed one of our eaters - with no previous acquaintance, I might add.
We began with some appetizers. Veggie eggrolls were not greasy at all and featured kale inside. They carried a heavy mushroom flavor, which was enjoyable. The won ton soup was scaldingly hot. Once cooled to eating temperature, it was disappointingly bland, but had nice contents - pepper, tofu, water chestnuts, carrots.
Main courses were out of this world. Usually I find one or two likeable things at any given Chinese restaurant, but nearly everything here was excellent. Let me first swoon over the crispy eggplant. I ordered a platter for the table (too bad they don't come appetizer-size). Even Ben the stepson (never touches veggies) ate more than one. These lightly battered strips are indeed crispy and are coated in extremely sweet goo - almost a syrup. The whole thing was an orgy, and not a one was left. Next time I will order it as a dessert, for at least 6 people. After having this, you wonder who could hate eggplant. Yu Xian Pork had a sweetish sauce, but a smokey flavor that really let the pork shine. It came with water chestnuts, green onion and carrot strips. Beef Broccoli was a toothsome dish. The broccoli was parboiled and then added to the sauce, which made it the perfect texture. Veggie szechuan was oily and heavy with a hearty mushroom flavor. It was well-liked, but other dishes finished way ahead. The orange chicken was mildly spicy. The breading was not heavy and it came with peas, carrot pieces and BIG spicy peppers. The chicken beef and shrimp (yup, that's the name of the dish) had many veggies and meats sliced very thin. Three Ingredients (yup, another name) had shrimp, scallops and crab. The eater did not like the scallops - he said they were awkward. Further delving into that SAT vocabulary, he also said the crabmeat was perfidious. The dish also came with zucchini, mushrooms and onion. The best dish (other than that eggplant) was the Mixed Goodies. A big platter (I mean huge - could fill up 2 people EASY) had julienned carrots and cukes, broccoli florets, mushrooms, shrimp, scallops and a few other surprises served all around the edge. These items were cool, like they had been in a refrigerator. In the center of the platter was a big heap of steaming sliced (thin) beef, spinach and maybe bean sprouts. You are supposed to mix the cold with the hot and eat the the whole mess together. The sauce on the dish was a searing wasabi-base. It was very mustardy and sweet but just perfect. It may sound odd, but this was something really different, not just an old standby. No question, I would eat this again. Rice served with the dishes was average.
The bill was extremely reasonable. No liquor is served here, but you can bring your own. Although cokes were not refilled, service was still pleasant and certainly unobtrusive. I recommend this place very highly.
I am so grateful to Chowhounds - this place is a real treasure.