365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
First, let me start by saying that I was totally wrong on the post I wrote earlier today. We ARE more than halfway done with this crazy challenge! I think the halfway point was actually Cafe San Miguel. Anyway! Tonight we headed out again with no particular plan. Ogre mentioned that Mina wanted to eat at CPK tonight, well, pizza we could do -CPK would not fit with ”the rules.” Ogre asked Mina if she wanted to have “New York pizza” or “Chicago pizza.” Mina replied, “Aww, why can’t I have California pizza???” I told her to please choose New York or Chicago and she chose New York. We headed to some New York style pizza joint Ogre remembered over by Sushi Awaji. We got there and, surprise!, it wasn’t there. Nope, replaced by some Hamburger joint. We asked Mina if she’d rather eat at Yao Fuzi (which was right there) or the Chicago pizza place. She chose Yao Fuzi.
We went in and were seated right away. Ogre was a little nervous that he was underdressed in his T-shirt and shorts, but I don’t think anyone really cared how we looked. The kids were immediately drawn to the large aquarium and we were lucky enough to get a table right beside the fishtank. We let the kids sit where they had full view of the aquarium. Benji was particularly enthralled and really liked the small turtle that zipped around the tank. He’s wave at it and say, “hi…tur-toe, hi…tur-toe.” He also kept saying that the fish and the turtle were “kie-ing” (crying). I don’t know what that was about.
Mina was playing with the Go Diego Go toy Benji brought in and then requested something to write with.
I gave her some scrap paper and a pen from my purse. Benji was starting to fuss so I dug around my purse for more goodies. I found Mina’s Chinese yo-yo and gave that to him much to Mina’s distress. She was extremely worried that Benji was going to “mess it up.” We assured her that he wouldn’t and we kept careful watch that Benji didn’t do anything untoward to the precious $1 yo-yo. Benji loved it so it looks like I’ll need to get another one.
He was so distracted with this yo-yo that he had not even touched his tofu. Mina went over and spoon fed him his tofu and he finished it in, oh, about 4 bites.
Meanwhile, Ogre and I were trying to order dinner. I actually went ahead and ordered some cold silk tofu for the kids while waited. We got the appetizers in but needed a minute more for dinner entree choices. We decided we’d eat family style and in this family, that means a noodle dish for the kids and then we picked the Crushed Red Pepper Beef anticipating that he and I would be the only ones to eat that. We ordered a soup in addition to the appetizer to ensure we’d all have enough food.
The won-ton soup (which was more like a dumpling soup) came out first. I initially just gave Benji one of the won-tons, but he pointed to the large soup bowl, nodded his head and said, “su, Benji, su” (soup for Benji). Ogre obliged and poured some soup in a bowl for Benji, but we nixed the idea of letting him feed himself. Ogre and I did that for him.
Next out came the juicy dumplings. We were finishing up our soup and I’m always wary of eating them too soon because the filling and “juice” can be flaming hot. Ogre excused himself to the restroom and I even touched one to see if I could eat one and decided against it. Secretly I thought, I’ll let Ogre try one and see if he thinks it’s hot. (I really hate burning my mouth, I think it ruins my next 3 meals). Ogre got back and asked if I tried one and I said, “No, I was waiting for you to try one.” He ate two, said they were fine and then started to cut one up for Mina. Just then, one of the servers swoops over and told us he wanted to make sure they were done (I know I shouldn’t be laughing, but it’s funny now). Ogre eyes were falling out of his head. The server took Mina’s knife, sliced it open, and then pulled his little eyeglasses out of his breast pocket, examined it and deemed it a “no-go.” He whisked that plate and the rest of the juicy dumplings away.
Ogre looked at me with disbelief. He’d already eaten two. I told him about how I’d let him try the dumplings because I was afraid I’d burn my mouth and he replied, “Well, apparently they’re not hot enough!” I’m still snickering. He was worried he’d get trichinosis or something. I guess it’s a valid concern. I think he’ll be alright.
The juicy dumpling fiasco probably delayed dinner by about 20 minutes. Luckily we had the yo-yo to keep Benji entertained. Finally, the juicy dumplings came out and, I have to tell you, they were worth the wait! Very tasty. Ogre said with just the slightest bitterness in his voice that the correctly cooked and undercooked ones tasted the same. Mina also thought they were tasty and ate two! Surprising because there were little green specks in it. She ate it right up!
We waited a little while for the entrees to come out. During this time, Benji decided that he didn’t want to wear his weird short-sleeved jacket any longer.
The stir fried noodles weren’t quite what I expected, but were tasty none the less. I cut the noodles up for Benji, but he still managed to gag on a few bites. No choking though, thank goodness and Mina was right there to give him a pat on the back when he gagged.
Ogre looked at the beef dish and I think he was nervous that I wouldn’t like it because it looked super spicy (very red). Mina looked at it and wanted some, we warned her that she probably wouldn’t like it (we didn’t tell her why), but she insisted, so Ogre dished it up for her. She ate it, liked it, and kept asking for more. I think she ate more than I did. That was hugely surprising. After dinner, she wanted to give me a kiss, but had to run back to get a drink of water. She brought her water cup over and giggled at how empty it was. I gave her kiss and joked with her that her lips were spicy!! Maybe she did get her Papa’s heat tolerance gene after all!
Overall, we were surprised at how good the food was. It was a little more upscale than we anticipated, but no one seemed to mind.
Ogre learned by reading some of the reviews and articles on the wall that they served “Shanghai Noon” style food. I’ve never heard of this, but I apparently like it! I always thought that it was Asian Fusion because Fuzi sounds like “fusion,” well, sort of. Okay it’s dumb logic.
The won-ton soup was excellent. It is enough for 2-3 people to share and reminiscent of a similar soup that I LOVED at a Chinese restaurant that is now closed (Mandarin for anyone that cares or remembers in Plano). I would crave and seek out that soup and now I have found a perfect replacement. I am very excited about this find. The soup has a good flavor and is slightly salty. The won-tons were cooked well (not gummy) and the pork filling was very good also. This is the type of soup that gets better as it sits so I am already looking forward to ordering this soup before an overnight shift and bringing it to the hospital to eat there.
Next out came the juicy dumplings. We order these at Jeng Chi every time we go. I have to tell you, they’re better here. Well, the sauce that accompanies it better. Ogre says it’s because it has a much higher proportion of vinegar in the sauce than at Jeng Chi. He rolled his eyes at me because I don’t even use the sauce at Jeng Chi. I request vinegar and make a vinegar/soy sauce mix for the dumplings! In my defense, I thought that the filling also tasted better!
The first entree we got came off the Shanghai menu, which was a separate piece of paper -I assume it changes. We ordered the Stir Fried Rice Noodle with Minced Pork. It have very good slightly salty, slightly sweet flavor in the noodles and there was sort of a minced or ground pork all through it. It is difficult to handle, but tasted great. Benji loved it.
The second entree we shared was the Beef with Crushed Red Pepper. It is served with enoki mushrooms and bell peppers. This was also pretty tasty. It was not as spicy as it looked, but definitely left your lips with a burn. I loved the enoki mushrooms in this dish. It’s very saucy, so you’ll need rice to balance that out. It actually has a mildly sweet taste to it. This was Mina’s fave.
No kids menu here!
The service here was average, I’d say. Our waiter was friendly and our drinks stayed pretty well refilled. There was just the one weird hiccup with the juicy dumplings when the one guy (?manager) came over to cut open the dumpling and whisked the dumplings away leaving Ogre in fear of what he’d eaten. They did take those off the bill and were very apologetic and forthcoming with the problems. The food was a little bit on the slow side coming out, but not to where I thought there was a problem, I think that’s just to be expected in that restaurant.
Definitely not the most kid friendly restaurant ever, but, again, not kid unfriendly. No kids activities, no kids menu. There are some choices that are probably kid palate friendly and you can eat family style, which is nice. I would consider it a little more upscale than you’d think looking at the location (it’s in a strip mall) and I did feel like we got some “looks” a few times during dinner. In fact, one couple who walked in and were sat near us asked if they could be moved to a table with “more privacy.” Uh, or did you mean “away from that loud kid”? They were not lucky because there were no other tables available.
We were really surprised at how this dinner tasted! It was quite good. It’s not Asian Fusion, it’s pretty good Chinese that is more authentic and more upscale than you’d anticipate. Certainly worth a try, but be aware of the eating out with children pitfalls!
The total: $~47 (the juicy dumplings were gratis)
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!