Monday, October 25, 2010

Fu-Shing Chinese Restaurant

Down Colorado Blvd, across from the former Pasadena Chevrolet dealer (soon to be a lumber yard, it appears), in a shopping center I have only been to once, to pick up a rental car that turned out to be a teal Camaro convertible, is Fu-Shing. I have heard a few good things about the place over the years but never been. Chinese food sounded really good to me yesterday, and I was out running errands in that part of town, so I decided to stop by.

Unlike a lot of Chinese restaurants I could name that give you only a few options for the lunch special - and never the items that you want - Fu-Shing has dozen of options. At another time I would have experimented with something slightly out of my comfort zone, perhaps along the lines of the extra-hot Szechwan beef noodle stew. But I was really hungry. So I went the more prosaic route: sweet and pungent chicken. (Basically one step less boring than ordering orange chicken.) Elizabeth ordered the sliced chicken with fresh mushrooms.

All lunch specials include hot & sour soup, the choice of fried or steamed rice, and the choice of chicken salad or an egg roll.

My drink at a Chinese restaurant is always one of two things: Tsingtao if I'm in the mood for a beer (usually that accompanies dim sum) or tea if I'm not.

When the hostess seated us, tucked away in the corner, we immediately got our pot of tea. But then we didn't see anyone for more than fifteen minutes. We weren't exactly being ignored; I'm not sure anyone saw us, and the place was busy. As I mentioned, I was hungry, and I worried that the service was going to be slow for the whole meal.

That concern was put to rest when the soup hit our table less than ninety seconds after we'd placed our order. I dug in. I really liked the soup. It wasn't the spiciest hot & sour soup I have ever had, but it was above the average and did the trick in clearing my sinuses. Elizabeth only ate half of hers, so I gladly finished that, too.

I have always loved the chicken salad at Yang Chow, bursting with the flavors of sweet dressing, ginger, crisp lettuce and crunchy noodles. This side salad at Fu-Shing was, in my mind, almost a clone of that salad. I had only decided at the last minute to get the salad instead of an egg roll, and I was very happy I did. If nothing else had been good, I would return just for this.

Elizabeth decided to get the egg roll. If you've read this blog before, you may have noticed a common theme: 99% of the time, Elizabeth makes better food choices than I do. This falls into that one percent. I took a bite of the egg roll and did not care for it much; the cabbage was cool and stringy. The whole thing lacked any flavor. 

The fried rice was also a dud. It was overloaded with soy sauce - almost swimming in it - and was not warm. I had the feeling this particular bowl had been sitting around in the kitchen for a while, waiting for the next person to order fried rice so it could be shoved into their hands.

The sliced chicken with mushrooms came out. "Just one minute for the other dish," our server said. Elizabeth asked if it was okay for her to start eating. I said of course. Ten minutes later, when my dish still had not been served, I took a couple pieces of her chicken. I enjoyed them, although by themselves they only had a touch of flavor. I can't get too upset, as I don't like mushrooms so I did not try the chicken as it's intended to be eaten.  

Finally, after a server asked me how I liked my food and I glanced down at the bare table in front of me and replied "I have not received it yet," my food was hustled out to me. I know this is an Americanized Szechwan dish, but I loved it. The chicken was crunchy and the sauce was both sweet and a touch spicy. A decade ago, when I thought Panda Inn was really good, I used to order their sweet & pungent shrimp, an item whose recipe they have now changed, and not for the better. This chicken reminded me very much of the flavors of that dish. Like the slippery shrimp at Yang Chow, it was very hard for me to stop eating these, and I ate several more than were necessary to satisfy my hunger. 

My fortune. "Wow," I said to Elizabeth, "they must know you." Most of the time I find myself funnier than she does, and this was no exception. 

After lunch, one of our errands took us by my parents' house, and their eyes lit up when they saw we had leftovers, which they finished. So four of us got lunch for the pre-tax price of $18.55, which is a very good deal. Although the service was spotty and the food we ate is nothing you can't get at hundreds of Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, I liked the place and realized there may be more to it than we experienced. I will definitely return to Fu-Shing to eat some more of that salad and try other dishes. I will never again sit at the table in the corner of the alcove, however.


Liz said...

I really enjoyed my chicken and mushrooms. And the egg roll could have been good if the insides were a little more done. Next time.

Irina Netchaev said...

I keep forgetting about Fu Shing. I was there once and it was pretty good. The orange chicken looks great. I might stop by there for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder!