Monday, July 23, 2012

Last Last Saturday Lunch at China Dynasty

Last last Saturday, the 14th, Artie and I were having a book meeting (we have a couple of food related books in the works) and realized that we needed some lunch. China Dynasty is in the same shopping center as the HEB on the northwest corner of Manchaca and Slaughter Ln. It's the shopping center where the over sized security guards cruise around the parking lot standing up on those little three wheel scooters. It's been there forever, and I never gave it much thought until Art convinced me to give it a try several years ago. Now it's on the regular, it's 3 or 4 blocks from Art's house.  They have a lunch menu, so we selected from that, and bumped it up with an order of potctickers.

Their potstickers are excellent, with a thin, handmade wrapper, and a plump stuffing of minced pork with garlic and scallion. The soy-ginger dipping sauce is great once you add a dollop of hot chile oil and a little soy sauce. I've been making potstickers for many, many years, as some of you know, and the kitchen guys at CD make some bodacious potstickers.

The eggroll comes with the lunch, as does a cup of soup. The eggrolls are wonderful, with a flaky crispy skin and a meaty filling. Usually they have nothing but cabbage inside, but the China Dynasty eggrolls are meatalicious and superior. 

I'm a sucker for their hot and sour's really one of the better versions in town. What sets it apart is the rich pork stock it's made from, giving it depth of flavor that the competition lacks. It also actually has strips of pork in it, unlike most of the competition. Such a simple thing, that cup of soup, but so beneficial to the whole when it's done right. I always upgrade my cup to a small bowl because it tastes so damn good.

Art went for the Lemon Chicken. Right, I know. Lemon chicken. But here it is actually fantastic, and made with boneless chicken thigh instead of breast, so it has flavor and it's moist, with a light batter. The sauce isn't cloyingly sweet either, and remains balanced. Their fried rice even manages to be less oily than most.

I went for the chicken with fresh mushrooms. Again, the rich chicken stock they add, which then gets reduced in the wok, adds a ton of depth to the dish. It tasted wonderful. They do stocks really well here, and they add so much complexity and depth to every dish.

Our waitress, whose name escapes me at the moment (she is the niece (?) of Johann, who used to be the chef-owner of Java Noodles), is absolutely, without question, one of the best servers in Austin. Efficient, unobtrusive, pleasant, attractive,....what more could you ask for. She always anticipates our needs before we realize them. The best. Really.

Here is my almond cookie fortune. Note to good luck...I am waiting patiently.

China Dynasty?....incredibly consistent and good. Love this place.

Mick Vann ©

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