Helpful ReplyHot!Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese)

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mlm
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2018/11/28 10:53:15 (permalink)
I still remember the first Chinese restaurant in San Marcos, the Hong Kong. It opened in the mid 70s.  It was so nice with good food, red soft furnishings and soft music. It was such a treat since my only prior experience with Chinese food was by way of La Choy. It was owned by David Chiu, a Chinese native. As long as he was the owner, about twenty years, it was pretty decent but when he sold it it began to slip. The last time I ate there the service was good and the food was ok but all the atmosphere was gone. Shortly afterwards it was retitled 'Wok and Roll'. I haven't been back since. I just CAN"T go to a place with a name like that. We have one called Imperial Garden which is about as old as the Hong Kong was and the last time I ate there it was still ok. The Chinese buffet places here are straight off the Sysco truck. I am sure I could do just as well or better if I can get past my fear of stir frying.
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phlmaestro
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/02 16:05:24 (permalink)
I'm glad he's catching flack over this:  https://deadline.com/2018/12/andrew-zimmern-sparks-outrage-with-chinese-restaurant-comments-1202527169/
 
Zimmern ripped into Americanized Midwestern Chinese food and he's now doing the obligatory apology tour.
 
I'm glad he's catching flack over this:  https://deadline.com/2018/12/andrew-zimmern-sparks-outrage-with-chinese-restaurant-comments-1202527169/
 
Zimmern ripped into Americanized Midwestern Chinese food and he's now doing the obligatory apology tour.
 
This reminds me a bit of an online incident from some years back. When we lived in a downtown condo, the guy in the unit right above us was a chef. We were friendly with him and I made him a Facebook friend. He was the type of chef that expects you to eat whatever he puts in front of you and be thrilled with it.
 
I saw him post once from a new Szechuan restaurant in town and he was besides himself because the people next to him were eating egg rolls and some other Cantonese dish instead of the more authentic Szechuan items on the menu. It was like a moral offense to him that anyone would choose Americanized Chinese food over something more authentic.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2019/01/02 16:37:05
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/02 16:43:43 (permalink)
phlmaestro
I'm glad he's catching flack over this:  https://deadline.com/2018/12/andrew-zimmern-sparks-outrage-with-chinese-restaurant-comments-1202527169/
 
Zimmern ripped into Americanized Midwestern Chinese food and he's now doing the obligatory apology tour.
 
I'm glad he's catching flack over this:  https://deadline.com/2018/12/andrew-zimmern-sparks-outrage-with-chinese-restaurant-comments-1202527169/
 
Zimmern ripped into Americanized Midwestern Chinese food and he's now doing the obligatory apology tour.
 
This reminds me a bit of an online incident from some years back. When we lived in a downtown condo, the guy in the united right above us was a chef. We were friendly with him and I made him a Facebook friend. He was the type of chef that expects you to eat whatever he puts in front of you and be thrilled with it.
 
I saw him post once from a new Szechuan restaurant in town and he was besides himself because the people next to him were eating egg rolls and some other Cantonese dish instead of the more authentic Szechuan items on the menu. It was like a moral offense to him that anyone would choose Americanized Chinese food over something more authentic.


Well, while Zimmern's comments were inconsiderate, I cannot say that he is wrong in any substantial way. Most Americanized Chinese places are mediocre on their best day. The few that stick to their guns and make real Chinese food are few and far between. Most Midwestern Chinese is bland fare that has been made for the lowest common denominator of eaters. In many places it's hard to tell the difference between dishes, they all blur together and nothing stands out. Not one of these restaurants would even hold a candle to a restaurant in Mainland China or Hong Kong. I'd really rather that the Chinese restaurants would start producing authentic Chinese cuisine and not redesign it for the American palate. If Zimmern's restaurants are going to do that, I'll happily eat there. Shoot, even my local Chinese joint is guilty of playing to Americas lack of taste. We ordered a Kung Pao Chicken last week and it wasn't even remotely spicy. Even bad chains, like Panda Express, do a better job.
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phlmaestro
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/02 16:52:15 (permalink)
I agree that the majority of Cantonese Americanized restaurants are not real high quality.
 
But while that may have always been the case, it was still a lot easier to find a high quality Cantonese restaurant in decades gone by. 
 
I don't mind having more authentic places in Chinatown here, and I'm not even sure I'd want to go back to the 70s and 80s when all of the restaurants were Americanized Cantonese. But I'd be a hell of a lot happier if there were still a couple good old-fashioned places left (or if the one that's still around was still good), and I still prefer high quality Americanized Cantonese, when I can find it, to what is more prevalent today (hand-drawn noodles, ultra-hot Szechuan, dim sum, etc).
post edited by phlmaestro - 2019/01/02 16:57:04
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mlm
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/02 22:21:18 (permalink)
I don't have nearly the experience you gentlemen probably do in terms of chinese food and i probably have never been at any other but what you would call an americanized chinese restaurant. I wouldn't EXPECT to have food seasoned with other than what can be commonly purchased but, what is probably my last meal at one of the chinese buffet places, was very disappointing. No seasoning at all, no garlic, no ginger, nothing really but lots of salt and sugar. That's what I mean by right off the Sysco truck. I can make much better at home with just grocery store ingredients, I'm sure.
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phlmaestro
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 08:25:53 (permalink)
I avoid Asian buffets.  The few times I've tried them, I wasn't thrilled with the food quality.
 
To elaborate a little further on what I wrote in my last post, while I've never lived in the Midwest, in my part of the country, I would say the majority of Chinese restaurants at this point are those takeout places with photos of various dishes above the ordering counter. And for the most part, those places aren't very good (although they can be fine for things like egg rolls, fried rice and spare ribs … not so much for entrees). 
 
Again, I don't know what it was like in the Midwest, but when I was a kid, I don't recall many places like that. Chinese food came from restaurants that had dining rooms and also offered takeout. And for the most part, I think they did a better job back then on things like Sweet and Sour dishes (there was more meat and less breading … and the sauces were probably a little better most of the time). 
 
So while I still can't get behind a rant directed against Americanized Cantonese food in favor of more authentic Chinese cuisine, I would have no problem with some food celebrity going off on the general lack of effort to make the food as good as it used to be.  
 
I actually still find that the few Chinese restaurants around that have nicer dining rooms and go to an effort on décor also tend to put out better food.
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 09:44:50 (permalink)
phlmaestro
I'm glad he's catching flack over this:  https://deadline.com/2018/12/andrew-zimmern-sparks-outrage-with-chinese-restaurant-comments-1202527169/

"The goal is to coax the flyover rubes to try a higher form of Chinese food, Zimmern said."
 
I wonder if Zimmern actually said that, since in the article there are no quotation marks in the sentence (the ones above are mine).  The Star-Tribune has definitely picked up the story...
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2019/01/03 09:50:01
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 10:26:09 (permalink)
I wonder if this Dark Sode of the Moon stuff is an attempt to establish old school Cantonese as the cuisine of choice in outer space.
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rumaki
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 10:52:19 (permalink)
Here are some of Zimmern's comments, from the horse's mouth:
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/andrew-zimmern-apologizes-after-criticized-offensive-comments-about-chinese-restaurants-n940921
 
And here's some reader feedback from City Pages (alternative weekly): http://www.citypages.com/...ders-respond/501330771
 
As I've written previously, old-fashioned, family owned Chinese-American restaurants are dying in the Twin Cities.  In my relentless search to try to find ones that are comparable to the now-closed Dragon House and Dragon City  
https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/10/01/a-bittersweet-goodbye-for-the-dragon-city-cafe ,
I have been disappointed. Old timers here still gauge these restaurants -- and especially their rendition of chow mein -- against the legendary Nankin, which I visited only once when I was in Minneapolis for a conference back in the 1990s.  I had some really good egg foo young there.  http://forgottenminnesota.com/2014/09/the-nankin-cafe/
 
I'm not going to repeat what I wrote above, but I thought both Dragon House and Dragon City prepared excellent old-fashioned, Chinese-American food.  I don't really care for the Twin Cities version of chow mein -- it's typically in a "dark" sauce, and having been used to Chinese-American restaurants in Indianapolis and Chicago where the chow mein had a "light" sauce, I would usually (if I was having that kind of thing) order the Twin Cities version of chop suey, which here was typically in a "light" sauce rather than the "dark" sauce used for it in Indianapolis and Chicago!  Took me a while to figure it out, but once I did, all was well. Counter-intuitively, Cantonese chow mein with pan-fried noodles is cooked in "light" sauce both here and in Indianapolis/Chicago restaurants.  
 
I never, ever go to "Chinese" buffets, and they do seem to dominate the market here. There are also some carry-out only holes in the wall of widely varying quality.  I've tried a couple:  Cathay http://cathaychowmein.biz/ and Huie's  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Huies-Chow-Mein/120470194636521
Each has its adherents, but I'm still searching.
 
I've held off on trying a restaurant I was considering, Crystal Garden, because they have both a buffet and order-from-the-menu food.  It's in a strip mall not too far from my house, has been around at least 20 years, and the menu looks promising, though pricey.  I may go there at some point and try just one or two things, to see.  https://www.zomato.com/twin-cities/crystal-garden-minneapolis/menu#tabtop
 
And yes, I've been to China, and eaten in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, as well as Hong Kong, and had dim sum in the Taipei airport.  I'm by no means an expert, but I do know what some of the genuine cuisines of China taste like.  I simply don't expect authenticity from mom 'n' pop Chinese-American restaurants.  Nor do I expect it from Zimmern's Lucky Cricket
 
  
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phlmaestro
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 11:28:06 (permalink)
rumaki
And yes, I've been to China, and eaten in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, as well as Hong Kong, and had dim sum in the Taipei airport.  I'm by no means an expert, but I do know what some of the genuine cuisines of China taste like.  I simply don't expect authenticity from mom 'n' pop Chinese-American restaurants.  Nor do I expect it from Zimmern's Lucky Cricket
 



 
Well put. It's not that I dislike dim sum or Hong-Kong style roasted meats. I just would like the Cantonese that's out there to be done well.
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mlm
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 12:00:37 (permalink)
Interesting thread! Yeah, chinese buffet is not my first choice either. I was in town at that mall that day and it was the best option. I went there with the idea of 'giving it one last chance' since I had found it indifferent before. I live in a town where ninety nine percent of the restaurants are more or less mediocre chains. It's a good thing my expectations are not too high for restaurants. If I can get a decent meal for the money in a clean building thats about the best I can realistically hope for here. The chinese buffet restaurant is clean and has lots of business. It just was blah for about twelve dollars. I can buy twelve dollars worth of groceries and make a better 'asian inspired' meal at home. That's the test for me locally. You all buy and make foods that sound absolutely WONDERFUL but which just aren't going to happen for me as a cook and in restaurants which I can afford and access.
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rumaki
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 12:14:51 (permalink)
mim:
 
It's out of print now, and difficult (and expensive) to find, but if you can lay your hands on a copy of Martin Yan's first cookbook, The Chinese Chef  https://www.amazon.com/Martin-Yan-Chinese-Chef-Television/dp/B000O688AY/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1546535427&sr=1-12&keywords=Martin+Yan
you'll find some terrific and easy recipes. I love his chicken almond ding and egg foo young recipes, as well as twice-cooked beef and baby bok choy with Chinese mushrooms.  And his method for preparing plain steamed rice (works with an ordinary saucepan, not an electric rice-cooker) is foolproof and really tastes "Chinese." 
 
#72
mlm
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 12:32:57 (permalink)
Oh, thanks Rumaki! I'll take a look! I loved his TV show.
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mlm
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 12:41:15 (permalink)
I just ordered a cheap, five dollar, from hippo books. In the meantime, I will see what i can find on the internet. thanks again.
 
 
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1bbqboy
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 13:01:36 (permalink)
We’re now getting a new show with Marty on create where he’s roaming around China looking for spices and local delicacies. Pretty cool show.
#75
mlm
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 13:05:47 (permalink)
Wonderful!
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 13:27:52 (permalink)
I'm loving this thread. Many thanks to all for your input and, output.
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1bbqboy
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 15:20:50 (permalink)
Martin Yan’s Hidden China is the name of the create series.
https://createtv.com/show/myhc
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 16:36:22 (permalink)
I believe that was his previous series.  What we're currently seeing here is Yan Can Cook: Spice Kingdom.
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rumaki
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 16:45:05 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken
I believe that was his previous series.  What we're currently seeing here is Yan Can Cook: Spice Kingdom.


Twin Cities Public Television is currently airing his "Taste of Malaysia" series. https://yancancook.com/home/malaysia/
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1bbqboy
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/03 17:01:55 (permalink)
I believe you’re right. Thanks.
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/09 16:08:55 (permalink)
The woman I sit next to at work, who also has a long-standing attachment to the Imperial Inn, and I decided to give the Imperial Inn another shot today (kind of lays waste to the title of this thread, but it's not easy to say goodbye after over 40 years of eating there). The egg rolls were the last straw last time. We thought maybe they were out of the ones we liked last time and would give it one more try on the condition that if they got the egg roll wrong again, this is it.   Well .... this was it.  The egg roll wasn't even crispy and had the same lesser filling it had last time.  I will say, I was happy with the quality of the sweet and sour pork; especially the sauce. But I don't think that will be enough to get me back there.  We'll see. I could get desperate and overly nostalgic at lunch some day down the road.
 

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ScreamingChicken
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/09 18:01:49 (permalink)
That eggroll looks a lot like the ones the counter-serve Chinese carryout places around here have.  Is it possible Imperial Inn switched to a food service version?
 
Our local choices for Chinese carryout are extremely limited and for years we've been ordering from the place that's been in town the longest, but our last few orders haven't been all that great.  Next time we're going to try the other place in town; it's only been open for a couple of years but the one time we tried it a ways back the food was (by our standards) OK.  Time to give them another try.
 
Quite a few years ago I worked with a woman of Chinese heritage and whenever there was any kind of a potluck-type party she'd bring in homemade eggrolls that were outstanding.
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/09 21:57:07 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken
That eggroll looks a lot like the ones the counter-serve Chinese carryout places around here have.  Is it possible Imperial Inn switched to a food service version?

 
A friend told me that a lot of Chinese restaurants get their egg rolls from outside vendors. They may have switched to either a cheaper supplier or a cheaper option from the same vendor. 
 
They were close to empty when I picked up my lunch. They used to be crowded at lunch time.  I'm guessing they won't be around many more years. 
 
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rumaki
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/10 10:24:47 (permalink)
phlmaestro
ScreamingChicken
That eggroll looks a lot like the ones the counter-serve Chinese carryout places around here have.  Is it possible Imperial Inn switched to a food service version?

 
A friend told me that a lot of Chinese restaurants get their egg rolls from outside vendors. They may have switched to either a cheaper supplier or a cheaper option from the same vendor. 
 
They were close to empty when I picked up my lunch. They used to be crowded at lunch time.  I'm guessing they won't be around many more years. 
 




That's one reason why egg rolls are the acid test for me with Chinese restaurants.  You can tell the difference between "homemade" and "food service" egg rolls in an instant.   Homemade sweet and sour (or "duck") sauce instead of plastic packages is another good indicator of quality. 
 
#85
mar52
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/10 22:16:14 (permalink)
Martin Yan is such a down to earth, nice man.
 
I met him at a....  Prune cook-off in Yuba City, CA.   His wife who is Chinese lived there or came from Yuba City.  I forget but they were working a booth at the Prune Festival.  This was many years ago.  Many!
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/12 10:43:03 (permalink)
I also do the hot mustard with duck sauce thing too. I keep a quart of it in the frige it great on fried chicken or nuggets.  I do have many Asian chineses food places to choose from here in the Metro West Boston area. 
 
There are times I just get the PUPU Platter and just split it with my wife!  
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/12 17:45:52 (permalink)
rumaki
ScreamingChicken
I believe that was his previous series.  What we're currently seeing here is Yan Can Cook: Spice Kingdom.


Twin Cities Public Television is currently airing his "Taste of Malaysia" series. https://yancancook.com/home/malaysia/


I'm watching the show filmed in Malaysia (and in US studio) right now.
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phlmaestro
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/12 21:43:30 (permalink)
I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I also like dim sum. Apparently, parts of Northeast Philadelphia now have a lot of Chinese immigrants and there is a massive dim sum hall in an area that I used to know very well, but haven't been to in some years. They also supposedly serve good Cantonese food. The food critic at the paper where I work absolutely raves about this place (I believe he now considers it the best Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia … it was the only one he included in his annual list of the top 25 local restaurants). They apparently serve about 1,500 people on a typical day. I would guess more on weekends.  I'll probably be trying it out in a couple weeks when we have friends in from out of town. My friend's wife is from Taiwan and we usually eat in Chinatown when they're here. But we plan to drive out to the Northeast to try this place:
 
http://www.phillychinagourmet.com/
 
I would imagine this photo only shows a portion of the place.
 
post edited by phlmaestro - 2019/01/12 21:49:09
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Re: Fairwell To An Old Standby (I miss classic Chinese-American Cantonese) 2019/01/14 16:12:47 (permalink)
Oh lord, it's on St. Vincent St! My orthodontist was on St. Vincent St., as well as a tailor my mother liked to go to (Yetta's Ladies and Gents). I know the Northeast like the back of my hand, since I was born and raised there, but it's changed very much in the past 30 or so years. This restaurant looks to be mere blocks from where I grew up on the Boulevard. I'm going to have to check it out next time we cross the Tacony Bridge. One place here in Jersey that's very good is called Hong Kong Fusion. It's right on Route 70 in Cherry Hill. I'd recommend it. I know it's a very busy area, but that's Route 70 for ya.
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