Two long, narrow steam tables present a large array of dishes. Start with four soups, move on to kid-friendly non-Asian fare like roasted potatoes and squares of delicious apple pie, curiously wedged between beef and broccoli or sweet and sour chicken. Adults will be happy to see a slice-your-own roast beef and sweet and juicy crab claws. Clams and mussels are prepared several ways, as are familiar Chinese chicken, pork and beef dishes, paired with vegetables and napped with soy-sauce-based sauces. White rice, fried rice and lo mein noodles are part of the mix, and the requisite egg rolls, fried wontons, and fried or steamed dumplings are just part of the large selection.
A stainless-steel hibachi grill ensconced at the east wall of the serving area is a fun spot for creating your own dish from pork, beef or shrimp, along with Asian vegetables, which are all tossed together and grilled by an able hibachi master. OK, so hibachi is Japanese, but this is a great addition to Tian Tian’s menu.
A smaller table on the west side features salad fixings, a welcome array of cut-up fresh fruit, plus a limited display of sushi. There are cookies to munch on along with a scoop of ice cream chosen from a freezer with six flavors. Order a cold drink or, better yet, a pot of steaming hot tea that pairs so well with Chinese food.
Tian Tian Buffet, 2803 Brewerton Road, Mattydale (454-8868), premiered in October and has enjoyed a steady stream of diners lured by the affordable prices and vast array of food. Owner Ke Wang’s family owns other Chinese buffets in the Carolinas, although he has been working most recently in New York City. Wang, 29, along with his sister Frankie oversee the Mattydale operation.
Head up Brewerton Road past the Molloy Road intersection and you’ll find Pacific Restaurant, 2822 Lemoyne Ave. The building is painted a warm tobacco brown and brightened by a series of deep-blue canvas awnings. Diners will be happy to find ample off-street parking at this venue, which opened in October 2008.
The ambiance here feels more like a lounge; in fact, it’s rather romantic. Walk inside to a sleek and sophisticated-looking space, marked by burgundy-painted walls and deep gray wall-to-wall carpeting. You have a choice of many seating arrangements: four booths or six tables in the main area or, for a large group, a table in an adjacent alcove that seats 10. Total seating is 82. Tabletops depicting various designs of Asian lore make for interesting conversation pieces.
Also unusual here is the option of enjoying your favorite cocktail at the attractive six-seat bar or nestled around one of the cozy bistro tables for two. Sushi lovers will head for one of the six stools lined up along the shiny, granite-top sushi bar to observe a sushi master at work.
For complete privacy, or to enjoy your meal in an authentic setting, there are three tatami rooms to the right of the entry. Three quilted satin pillows await alongside long and low lacquered tables to accommodate up to six diners who want a special experience. You’ll be sitting pretty much on the floor, so be sure you’re comfortable with this arrangement before reserving this space.
On the Road to China: Jenny and Simon Teng welcome fine diners to what many locals consider the most authentic Asian eatery in Syracuse.
Pacific Restaurant’s menu combines Chinese and Japanese appetizers and entrees, but there is a separate listing for sushi and Thai cuisine. It is nice to have the opportunity to order Chinese egg rolls or spring rolls, then wonton soup, while your dining partner chooses Japanese edamame (boiled soybeans) or sunomono, which is a piece of fresh fish in Japanese special sauce, both accompanied by miso soup. The seven vegetables listed are all served with white rice, and most are prepared hot and spicy, although the heat can be tempered to your preference. Weight watchers have a choice of five steamed items, and for those not watching their diet, there is also a listing of chicken, pork, beef and seafood items.
Fourteen chef’s specialties include Triple Delight, jumbo shrimp, tender filet of beef and sliced chicken breast sauteed with broccoli, carrot, Chinese vegetables and baby corn in brown sauce and steak and scallops in a sizzling hot pot, steak and scallops sauteed in a sauce with broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms, baby corn and carrots. Familiar Cantonese cuisine includes fried rice, lo mein, chow mein or spare ribs Cantonese—fork-tender ribs grilled on an open flame, then glazed with delicious Cantonese barbecue sauce and served with mixed vegetables.
As one would expect, the Japanese menu has a large sushi concentration. These are expensive delicacies, especially those made with the freshest, top-grade raw fish. They are all made to order, and those sitting at the sushi bar can watch the chef prepare individual selections. In addition to the sushi, Japanese entrees of tempura, salmon or beef teriyaki or soft shell crabs are listed along with udon, Japanese noodles.
The Pacific bento box list, eight in all, is served with miso soup and salad. All are priced at $11.95. Eel seems to be the predominant offering, which may be paired with salad, a sushi sampling or chicken teriyaki.
The Thai lineup includes soup, an integral part of the Thai meal, and are prepared to order, which may take extra time. Coconut chicken soup (tom kha kai) is an aromatic Thai delight with chunks of chicken, galangal and lime leaves, swimming in a delicate coconut milk broth. Low-calorie lemon grass soup (tom yum) is the Thai national soup loaded with lemon grass, enhanced with lily flowers and kaffir lime leaves, mushrooms and fresh coriander. It may be ordered with vegetable, shrimp or seafood.
You might recognize Pad Thai under the five stir-fried noodles or fried rice items. This is the most popular Thai dish that combines thin rice noodles, stir fried with bean sprouts, egg, green onions and crushed peanuts. Curry is a favorite ingredient in Thai cuisine and the chef recommends red curry (gaeng phed), a spicy version with Thai bamboo shoots and vegetables in coconut milk. Look for mango chicken or shrimp, basil salmon, or other seafood and chicken dishes under the seven traditional entrees.
All dishes at Pacific Restaurant are reasonably priced, but if you want to experiment with Asian dishes more frugally, go for lunch.
Pacific Asian Restaurant and Bar is open Mondays to Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 10 p.m. Visit www.pacificrestaurant.net or call 454-8800.
Gastronomes have been flocking to China Road, 2204 Brewerton Road, for 32 years to savor chef Simon Teng’s Szechuan-style cuisine, reputed by some to be the most authentic in the area. A glance through Teng’s extensive menu shows familiar dishes found on many Asian menus, but a list of “Simon’s Specials” will reveal a master chef at work. The non-adventurous might opt for one of the 18 appetizers, like steamed dumplings, fried dumplings or crabmeat Rangoons but springs rolls Shanghai style are prepared with a little more bite than usual. A hot and spicy bean sprout roll is also unique to the China Road menu.
Nine soups include the popular wonton and egg drop but there is also seafood and tofu, or hot and sour fish fillet soup. There is a list of eight poultry selections like diced chicken in hot pepper sauce, seven pork choices beginning with moo shu pork, or winter bamboo tips with shredded pork. Fifteen seafood dishes range from shrimp or scallops with garlic sauce to crispy whole fish with chili or sweet and sour sauce. China Road’s live lobster can be prepared several styles, and your knowledgeable waiter will assist you in making a choice to your liking. There are eight beef listings, nine vegetables and nine selections under the noodles and fried rice lineup.
Twenty Simon’s Specials cover the gamut of seafood, beef, chicken and pork, and there is even a lamb chop dish laced with mushrooms, garlic and wine in brown sauce. Seafood in bird’s nest is a lovely visual presentation of scallops, shrimp, crabmeat, broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn and other vegetables served in a delicious nest made from crisp potatoes.
Peking duck is the ultimate creation that requires a call ahead to order. This famous dish features crispy skin and tender meat and is served with green onions, rich Peking sauce and hand-rolled pancakes. Priced at $26.95, Peking duck is the entire fowl, and serves up to four people.
Prices for all other dishes range from $9 to $11. Appetizers begin at $1.30 for a single egg roll to $9.95 for an assorted dynasty hot platter for two. A special family dinner section of the menu, for $10.95 per person, allows you to select soup and entree for two and up to five or more. There is even a weight watchers’ menu of dishes steamed with no seasonings or cornstarch.
Have lunch and choose from a special 15-item menu served Mondays to Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., including a combination that offers soup, fried or white rice for $5.75. The hungry eater will pick from the 10-item lunch combination special for $6.45, which adds a spring roll to your meal of items like spare ribs or shrimp with lobster sauce.
China Road’s best-kept secret is its separate vegetarian menu which takes meatless cuisine to a new dimension. Chef Teng conjures up items like a vegetarian faux sausage casserole stewed with black mushrooms, bamboo shoots and Chinese broccoli in sesame oil and brown sauce, or crispy vegetarian fish with honey walnuts. There are 10 appetizers, 11 vegetables and bean curd, nine vegetarian beef, 15 vegetarian poultry, four vegetarian pork, two vegetarian seafood and five vegetarian rice and noodle dishes. Tofu is often the magic ingredient.
One mark of a fine restaurant is its wine list, and China Road’s impresses with reasonably priced bottles. A California Forestville Merlot is only $13.95, and others are in the $18.95 to $24.95 bracket. The most impressive listing is a Chateu St. Michelle Chardonnay for $39.95. A single glass, personal bottle of white or red wine costs $3.25. It might be fun to order a beverage not readily found elsewhere like fuki sake, served on the rocks or in a hot decanter, or plum wine, for a mere $3.25. Four American beers are available as well as Tsingtau, for $3.50.
A welcome on the front of the menu states “enjoy a feast that is true to the Chinese adage: To eat well deserves an adventurous spirit.” China Road gives you the opportunity to let your culinary spirit soar.
China Road is open Sundays from noon to 9 p.m.; Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; and Saturdays, noon to 10:30 p.m. Visit www.chinaroad-ny.com or call 455-5888.