If you have ever dredged through a plate of starchy batter, candy-sweet sauce and deep-fried anything at a typical Chinese restaurant in these parts and found yourself wishing you could get a taste of whatever the Chinese cooks were whipping up for their own staff meal back in the kitchen, I recommend you proceed directly to China Rose, a restaurant in Fat City I reviewed this week.
The standard menu is pretty familiar, with the usual Americanized Chinese fare ranging in quality from pretty good (the sizzling beef) to dreck. But the thing here is their Chinese menu, an alternate bill of fare not prominently promoted but brought out for anyone who asks for it.
I had grown accustomed to requesting the Chinese menu, but after a month of periodic visits to work my way through its offerings I was startled to discover yet a third menu lurking by the hostess stand. A Chinese gentleman, who introduced himself as a local university professor, revealed this menu to us after noting approvingly of our choices from the larger Chinese menu.
This third menu is all about noodles. Some are noodle soups, others are noodles with sauce, meats and vegetables. An example of the latter we tried was a deliciously spicy dish called dan-dan noodles (pictured above) -- a pile of springy, nutty, ramen-like noodles mixed with bits of minced pork and scallions and dressed with hot chile oil and large chunks of ginger.
But apparently, China Rose's range doesn't end with an American menu, a Chinese menu and this noodle menu. Our new professor friend advised us that at some point we simply had to try the Chinese wonton soup (emphatically not the "American" wonton soup), a dish that is not listed on any menu but is, according to our friend, a specialty of the kitchen.
My column on China Rose is done, but I think I have a lot more eating to do here.
- Ian McNulty