Pick-up artist: China Dynasty
OK, if you think I'm pathetically stuck on Valentine's Day, let me stick it to you by saying, "Gotcha!" Because from the celebrating to the red and fireworks, the occasion I was actually - and accurately - describing was the beginning of the two-week-long, bang-a-gong, whoop-dee-do called Chinese New Year.
Here I should credit my opening sleight-of-pen to a flier I saw at China Dynasty, which pointed out the surprising V-Day/Chinese New Year's similarities and simultaneity.
This got me thinking that China Dynasty - the one in the Shops on Lane Avenue mall - has been a sweetheart of a versatile restaurant understandably beloved by locals for over two decades. And while the place is nice enough to pop in for a drink and a date, since reliable Chinese takeout is such a hot commodity, I thought I'd spotlight that branch of China Dynasty's operations.
In general, its takeout food follows suit with its sit-down meals. That means though they're a bit greasier than I'd like, the Dynasty's generously portioned offerings are of much higher quality and better prepared than most of the competition. Here's a few feeding notes (in honor of the firecracker-happy ongoing Chinese New Year's, I veered towards spicier dishes).
Squab Packages ($7):
A terrific appetizer and a great deal. Dark soy-salty, scallion-enhanced, mildly sweet ground poultry meat (I believe it was chicken) was fun to eat, especially when combined with its underlying layer of chili-oiled and crunchy thin noodle threads (stir the container's contents together before consuming) and piled into an iceberg lettuce leaf (arrived in a separate bag) to make a rockin' low-carbo Chinese taco.
Five thick, pleasantly chewy dumplings were pan-crisped and packed with a fat pocket of zesty Chinese sausage.
Hot and Sour Soup ($2):
This lived up to its name with its vinegary tang. Its not overly gloppy base was replete with dropped egg, tofu, pork strands, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and so on.
Szechuan Green Beans with Chicken ($11.25):
One of the more boring vegetables became interesting with a high-heat blistering, a pairing with tender chicken slices and a spicy, soy-based sauce.
Kung Bao Mixed Vegetables ($9.50):
A colorful veggie medley (broccoli, cabbage, mushroom, carrots, baby corn, snow pea pods) got verve from a zingy sauce and crunch from water chestnuts and fried peanuts. This was a very satisfying meat-free entree.
Szechuan Seafood Clay Pot ($16):
A tawny-colored, not-messin'-around, blazing hot sauce set off - but didn't overwhelm - a boatload of good seafood (sliced real scallops, big shrimp and chunks of flounder) along with a few well-chosen veggies. This is one of the most expensive dishes on China Dynasty's menu, but I think it's worth the spicy-seafood price of admission.
Singapore Rice Noodles ($10.50):
A bed of long, thin noodles heavily hit with curry powder held treasures like shrimp, chunks of very good barbecued pork, egg, and sliced peppers and onions.
Singapore Rice Noodles ($10.50)
A bed of long, thin noodles heavily hit >with curry powder held treasures like shrimp, chunks of very good barbecued pork, egg, and sliced peppers and onions.
Boxed & bagged
China Dynasty's carryout performance
Percentage of my orders correct: 100
Time promised: 10-15 minutes
Time ready: About 15 minutes
Good to go?: The Dynasty's packed-and-stacked paper bags contained a mix of extremely efficient, tight-lidded plastic trays for saucy entrees, plastic pint containers for soups and regulation Chinese take-out boxes for rice and dumplings. I only had one insignificant spill from a small container of dipping sauce.
1689 W. Lane Ave., Upper Arlington
Price: $$ ($10-$20 per person)
Cuisine: Chinese & Asian
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
For a complete guide to local restaurants, click to ColumbusDiningGuide.com