Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Taste of China

Junk food. Every person has a different picture come to mind when “junk food” is uttered. For some, it’s a bag of chips. For others, it’s fast food. For me, it’s Chinese food.

A little background: I won’t eat at McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, or Dominoes. With the emergence of pizza and burgers as artisan foods, there are too many good options available for me to subject myself to a Big Mac. “What’s wrong with the Big Mac?” Nothing, but I doubt anyone would say it is their absolute favorite burger. If McDonald’s is on one corner, Five Guys on the next, each has no crowd, which one are you going to choose? Why bother with something that is mediocre at best? Same goes for pizza and tacos.

Chinese food is my junk food. If I don’t have the time to cook and I just need a meal to get me through, it’s going to be Chinese. Outside of mall food courts, there aren’t many Chinese chains that come to mind. If I order the same dish at two different places, though the ingredients may be the same, they come out completely different.

The dish I ordered on this evening is the Chinese food staple, General Tso’s Chicken. Deep fried chicken chunks covered in a spicy glaze/sauce. What is not to love? Order the combination version, and it generally comes with Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Roll. I can feel my arteries clogging already. Mmmmmm… clogged ventricle.

Taste of China is a spot that will make me travel a little out of my way. Located next door to the Tarrytown Town Hall, it boasts a large sign proclaiming that it was selected as one of the 100 Best Chinese Restaurants in America in 2007. That may not seem like much, but consider that this establishment is almost purely a take-out joint. Granted, there are four or five tables inside, but for the most part, it is strictly dine out. Surprisingly, almost every time I go in, those tables are filled. Business is brisk. A taste of their General Tso’s tells the reason why.

General Tso Combination

This is an excellent example. The chicken is not too heavily breaded, the sauce has plenty of heat, but retains a wonderful savory quality, and the breading is still crisp after a 20 minute ride home.

The fried rice was nothing to rave about. It has that weird, iridescent, yellow color that is all too common with most take out fried rice.

Egg Roll

The egg roll was equally uninspired.

I’ve eaten at Taste of China a number of times, and I wanted to rave about their food. However, casting a more critical eye on it for the purposes of this post, I am having a hard time. The chicken is great, and worth the price of admission, but the fried rice and egg roll were so flat.

Since it’s only fast food, I guess I can’t complain too much. The $9 price tag is not offensive and is worth it for me to have crispy chicken. If they can raise the bar of their starch, they might be in the running for 100 best again.

Taste of China
17 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY 10591
914-332-1625
(Google Map)

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J&M Fine Foods Deli

Odds are if you have ever worked in an office, there is one place nearby that everyone goes to for lunch. Someone probably refers to it as “just the best”.

This delicatessen appears to be that place for this neighborhood. There were plenty of people there that acted like regulars. They joked around with the staff, referred to counter persons by first name, and just ordered whatever special was available. Places that are “the spot” for any particular neighborhood can fall into a trap. Since they have a steady flow of customers, they don’t have to worry about standing out from the competition.

It was a real shame for me, because my sandwich could have been something very good.

JM Tex Mex

I ordered the Tex Mex on a wedge ($7.50). It is chicken cutlet, avocado, pepper-jack cheese, and salsa. I had them swap out salsa for mayonnaise. The chicken was perfectly cooked. It was sliced thin, but not paper thin. The meat was tender and tasty, and not overly breaded. The last thing any restaurant wants to put out is undercooked chicken, but overcooked is almost as lousy. This was just right. My beef with the chicken (ha ha) was that it was not warm. I understand that they cook a lot of chicken before the lunch rush, but they could have at least warmed the sandwich. That would have melted the cheese, which would have been great.

To be clear: This was a good sandwich, but with a little care it could have been excellent. Granted, the bread was weak, but just a few minutes in a panini press and it would have been something much better than the plain Jane I was presented. It’s a great example of the proprietors saying “It’s good enough.” “Good enough” is just enough to get by. It’s the difference between me finding the meal acceptable, and me making sure that I stop in to the deli anytime I’m in the area. It’s the difference between a one-time-visit and repeat business.

I was really peeved with the service. “If you see me looking over the menu board to decide what you have, and there is no one behind me, don’t keep asking me if you can help me. Obviously not. I’m not holding up the line. I’m not on a cell phone. Even if you think I look like a jackass, unless I’m acting like one, you shouldn’t treat me like one.” Furthermore, I asked for my sandwich to stay. I got it wrapped in foil and in a brown paper bag. They had plates. I saw them. Other customers were sitting at the tables eating off them. “Are you trying to send me a hint?” Jerk.

While you should not run from J&M, there is nothing compelling to make you walk in the door. Granted, it appeared to be “the spot” just due to lack of any other quick sandwich shop in the area. Sadly, in this case, their quickness is their downfall.

J&M Fine Foods Deli
733 North Bedford Road
Bedford Hills, NY 10507
914-242-9100

Georgie’s Diner

I was very sad to see the Equinox Diner close. A diner is perfect for times when my girlfriend and I can’t decide what to eat. Breakfast? They’ve got it all day. Sandwiches and salad? It’s there aplenty. However, this can also lead to extreme suckage. With a diverse and large menu, it can be hard to do everything well. Divine are the places that do it all right.

After our initial shock at seeing the Equinox gone, we remembered a sign off exit 40 on the Connecticut Turnpike. Georgie’s Diner has a huge billboard advertising gluten-free classics. Oh yeah, gluten-free classics like Mom uses to make.

Georgie Sign

Georgie’s looks like an old-fashioned diner, chrome and glass. The menu is very modern. The burgers feature Pat LaFreida beef. There is an expansive selection of gluten-free fare. Vegan fare is also available. However, for this first visit, we kept it simple.

Chicken Salad

The Chicken Salad Triple Decker ($8.50) was good, but not a transcendent experience. The chicken was moist but not over-the-top special. It wasn’t bad, but it did not make my toes tingle. Thankfully, they were not too heavy with the mayo. The bacon was standard, not really thick, but basic supermarket fare. Overall, it is a nice sandwich, but nothing worth a special trip.

The star of the show was the onion rings which were fried in seasoned breadcrumbs. Not greasy, not overly salty, they were thick cut and delicious.

French Toast

The Short Stack Challah French Toast ($3.25) is beautifully presented, but not again, nothing special. A little more crust and sear would have been nice, but the bread was airy and eggy. Don’t mistake this for being improperly cooked. There is nothing worse than undercooked french toast. It was properly done, but a little snap to the shell would have been beautiful.

If pressed, I would say Georgie’s gets a thumbs-up. I would definitely venture a second trip, but I would try some of the more exotic fare.

Georgie’s Diner
427 Elm Street
West Haven, CT 06516
203-933-1000