February 03, 2006
one of the best
In 2005, the 25-year-old Bo Ling’s restaurant received the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in America Award based on the evaluation of Betty Xie, editor-in-chief of Chinese Restaurant News. USA Today named the restaurant first among its “10 Great Places to Dine on Fine Chinese Food” in its Destinations section. In addition, Bo Ling’s owner, Richard Ng, was honored at the All Asia Food Expo in New York City, out of 40,889 Chinese establishments in the United States.
Small wonder. Ng frequently travels to Hong Kong for fresh inspiration. At the Plaza that translates into fresh food and a wonderful mélange of flavors, accompanied by great service. Add a six-foot Buddha, pink marble columns and beautiful natural woodwork throughout, the result is the makings of a great dining experience.
My husband, our daughters and myself ordered several appetizers as a start to our dinner one evening. The Crab Rangoon ($5.95) had crunchy edges with soft “pockets” for the mellow cream cheese, green onion and crab filling.
An order of four Spring Roll ($4.25) featured translucent wrappers full of medium-sized shrimp, brilliant green lettuce leaves, bits of pork and crunchy cucumber, cilantro and loads of rice noodles, atop piles of shredded carrot and more noodles. A deep brown dipping sauce added mild peanut flavor to each bite.
My daughters enjoyed their thick and fresh, lightly salty Egg Drop Soup ($2.00) with strings of flash-cooked egg. Stephanie’s Pad Thai ($10.95) featured a sweet/spicy peanut sauce that coated wide, soft noodles, huge shrimp, green onion, egg and tofu cubes.
Sliced chicken in a spicy peppercorn and chili sauce, served with stir-fried red pepper, celery, carrots, snow peas and baby corn that tasted like it came from freshly picked ears, characterized Jessica’s Sichuan Peppercorn Chicken ($9.55).
We watched in fascination as a staff member deftly wrapped sliced chicken, cabbage, mushrooms, eggs, scallions and noodles in thin pancakes, tableside, for my Moo Shu Chicken ($8.95). Red-brown, sweet and spicy hoisin sauce complemented the flavor of these filling wraps.
Mark’s Sizzling Steak and Shrimp ($13.95) paired melt-in-your mouth, bite-sized beef tenderloin and medium shrimp with crisp/tender snow peas, soft cooked mushroom and onion slivers, and a savory black pepper sauce.
We sampled three desserts. Amaretto Cheesecake ($4.75) had a substantial graham cracker crust and a subtle though distinct Amaretto flavor. Tiramisu ($4.50) was a pleasant rendition, if a little heavy on the filling. Chocolate Lava Cake ($4.95), with its divine river of deep chocolate pouring out, was incredibly rich. I did wish that Bo Ling’s offered at least one or two more traditional “Chinese” desserts, such as fruit fritters or mangos marinated with liqueur, also.
During a lunch visit, I ordered Salmon Teriyaki Style ($9.25). One of 16-items on the lunch specials menu, the meal also included one crab Rangoon, egg drop soup and white, brown or vegetable fried rice.
Other specials were General Tso’s and Cashew Chicken, Mongolian and Sichuan Peppercorn Beef, Fresh Vegetable Fried Rice, Chicken and Shrimp Hunan Style, and Mandarin Pork. I could also order from among five house specialties and seven rice or noodle dishes.
I requested won ton soup for only 30 cents more. Bits of chicken, lettuce, green onion, and three tender wontons filled with ground chicken swam in a perfectly salted pale brown broth. The crab Rangoon was just as delectable as during my first visit.
My lovely entrée arrived on a square white plate. Four broccoli flowerets and a small pile of zigzag-cut carrots were lightly steamed. Although the ginger teriyaki marinade had a very nice flavor, it overpowered the moist and tender salmon filet a bit.
A large mound of white rice flanked the fish. However, I had ordered fried rice, which my waitress brought only a few minutes after I noticed her error. Bits of green and white onion, long, al dente carrot gratings and tender egg dotted the soy-soaked rice.
The restaurant offers wine, beer and mixed drinks, and a children’s menu. On Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., three special chefs hand-prep an expansive dim sum menu — small, individual items that are priced by the piece.
Bo Ling’s on the Plaza deserves its many kudos. And the Ng family has every right to be proud of the restaurant experience they offer Plaza diners.
Lisa Waterman Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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