Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ching WHuat?

When Ching Hua on Park Street came on the food scene in Alameda there was a lot of hype on this restaurant. The interiors are amazing with modern, Asian flair. The high ceilings are great, the color schemes are vibrant with two contracting colors, and a bar on the right side of the dining room. I kept on hearing the hype about the food and so I finally had an opportunity to eat a meal here.

I started off the meal with Happy Hour starters. Thankfully the wait staff were not restrictive on the starters because I came fifteen minutes before the Happy Hour food (4 to 6 PM) were to end. The starters I ate were the Won Ton Platter and the Crab Shao Loong Bow. The Won Ton Platter sounded awesome on the menu because it was a mixture of three different won tons for two people. When the platter came to the table, the won tons were somewhat cool and greasy. The food was not a pleasant experience. I then waited for the next dish to arrive and the Crab Shao Loong Bow dish was also greasy. The starters were not great and I had high hopes for them because the menu looked delicious.

The next starter was the Hot and Sour Soup. Now, this soup is something to talk about. The soup was the perfect mixture of some heat with sour notes. The soup was full of vegetables, eggs, tofu and meat which was a pleasant surprise. The soup was the best starter of the meal.

The next two dishes of Chicken Lettuce Cups and Crispy Hong Kong Noodles were the entrees. The thought of eating meat and vegetables in a lettuce cup is a great idea, like a veggie shelled taco. The lettuce cups were washed and drenched in water. The kitchen should have quickly dried the cups with a paper towel so that when I picked it up, water would not be dripping all over the table and on my hand. Besides the water issue on the cups, the chicken lacked flavor. I tried the dish with lots of sauce on the meat and it helped slightly, but I had to add on a load of sauce to get flavor. When the Crispy Hong Kong Noodles arrived at the table, it was stunning to see. The food was presented like a piece of art work. The noodles looked like a birds nest with veggies and meat in the middle, all sitting in a sauce on the bottom of the plate. The noodles dish was difficult to eat because you had to cut the crispy noodles with a spoon and load it onto the plate. The veggies and meat on their own lacked flavor for some reason and the sauce was on the bottom.

The portion sizes were large for the entrees. I could not eat all of the food and took home about half of each dish. I was extremely full at the end of the meal and could not order dessert.

Overall, I had to say the food coming out of the kitchen was diluted to appeal to American palates. I think if the dishes were made with the same flavorings of the original recipes in China, the dishes would be much spicier, which is a good thing. The best dish of the evening for me was the Hot and Sour Soup.

The next time I come back, I would order food that is not on the Happy Hour selection and ask the staff for the signature dishes.

1 comment:

kelly said...

Ching Hua can be hit or miss. When they're hitting it, though, it's spectacular!

My favorite dish is their Sweet and Sour Pork -- very crispy coating on the pork and a good sweet *and* sour sauce. If you're willing to try 'em out again, I'd recommend it.