Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pick Up Stix

I wrote about Pick Up Stix back in November of 2008. I have been eating there occasionally for a little over a decade, and I have usually been quite pleased with it. I certainly prefer it to Panda Express, where the food sits out in steam trays, sometimes for quite a while. A decade ago I used to visit the Studio City Pickup Stix at least a couple times a month, as well as a few other locations on a less frequent basis. 

When the Alhambra store opened I went there several times - it was much closer than Studio City - but it was too erratic. When there were only a couple customers in the store, the food was always good, but when it was crowded, which it often was at lunch time, the food wasn't cooked long enough and often was served in a pool of oil. It was sloppy cooking, trying to crank out as many meals as quickly as possible with little regard for quality.

As I got a little older and more adventurous with Asian cuisines, I realized the silliness of eating fast-casual Americanized Chinese food in Alhambra, so close to the cities of Monterey Park and San Gabriel and some of the best Asian restaurants in the entire world. (I once walked by a Pizza Hut Express in Manhattan, a depressing-looking place if I ever saw one, although it, too, was crowded, just like Pickup Stix usually is.)

But I still go to Pick Up Stix every once in while. (It does not hurt that they are always sending me coupons for buy-one-get-one-free entrees.) The other afternoon, after Elizabeth and I had gone to Target, we stopped by for lunch. There was only one table of customers, so I hoped my theory held true and our food would be cooked with some attention. We got two orders of cream cheese wontons - I like them and Elizabeth loves them - and an order of their House Special Chicken: small pieces of chicken sauteed in white wine, garlic and soy sauce. 

This dish is very tasty when done well, however it's not always done well: it is the main offender in my previous comment about dishes drowning in oil. Fortunately, it was great this time. The chicken was cooked perfectly, the sauce had a nice touch of caramelization, and the bottom of the container did not have the sometimes present half-inch of oil pooled on the bottom. Normally we take at least a couple bites of food home with us from Pick Up Stix, but we finished off the carton.

The wontons were good, as usual, although there really isn't much to them. (When I make them at home I think they're better.) On Wednesdays you can get them for 25¢ each, yet we have never done that. (It was hard enough finding time to do stuff when only The Unit, Man vs. Food and Steven Seagal: Lawman were on TV; now that Ugly Betty has moved to Wednesdays it's near impossible.)

1 comment:

Liz said...

I could eat tons of those cream cheese wontons. So good!