Tuesday, April 2, 2013

China Dynasty

I am still lamenting the loss of Suzi's Chinese on South Lamar. Yeah, I know, it was Americanized Chinese food, but to me, their sesame chicken was gold medal material. South Austin clearly lacks for Asian food, particularly Chinese, Korean, and to an extent, Vietnamese. So it was with excitement that friends told me about their discovery of China Dynasty, in the HEB strip mall at Slaughter and Manchaca. (They don't have a website.)

We went on a recent Saturday evening, and at about 7:30pm, there were only a couple other tables occupied. Our waitress was friendly, though as a non-Asian, we weren't totally sure how much she really knew about the food, but she did put forth a good effort. We started with their spicy dumplings, which were really not spicy, but the sauce that's over them was really delicious. I think they were more like steamed pork wontons with a very lightly spicy, thin brown sauce poured over them; that sauce would have been good on a lot of things!
Then our main dishes came. In terms of eating the rainbow, we were not very successful, especially since you usually don't see brown in a rainbow! Fortunately, their sesame chicken dish was quite good; I'd give it a bronze or maybe even a silver medal. In comparison to Suzi's, I would reduce points for the size of the chicken pieces (these were cut fairly small), it was perhaps a bit sweeter than I recall Suzi's being, and then simply for location. This is way far south, even for me, whereas Suzi's was about a mile away from my house; it's not a quick, convenient trip if I suddenly get a sesame chicken craving.
We had spied a couple of duck items on the menu, and asked the waitress what "Eight-jeweled Duck" was, so she went to the kitchen to find out. The primary difference between it and the other duck dishes was that it's boneless, and comes with a sauce. We tried it. It's an extremely heavy breading, which once you get past that, does lead you to some meat. But I'll be honest, it could have been dark meat turkey for all I know; I am not 100% convinced we ate duck that night. The sauce was a notch or two up from your standard Chinese brown sauce, and it was very well-fried, as it did not appear greasy, but boy, that was some thick breading.
Egg Foo Young is not something you see on many Chinese menus, and my friends had tried it here before and liked it. If you're not familiar, EFY is an egg dish, like an omelet with stuff in it; in this case, I think there was cabbage, onion, and pork. It was a little hard to tell what all was in there, but you had your choice of meats, and I know we said pork. Sometimes EFY is prepared flat, like a disk, here, they were molded, so I imagine they were cooked in some sort of domed vessel, plated, and doused in more brown sauce. It's a fairly dense, hearty dish, and we couldn't finish it all. I think what gives it the "Chinese" feel is the sauce.
Overall, I'd say that China Dynasty had decent food, but not exceptional. It did scratch my sesame chicken itch for the time being, but didn't think about things when we ordered, and had too much brown sauce!

Next South Austin stop in my quest for good sesame chicken -- Hunan Lion, where I haven't been in years!