After dining on a satisfying meal of American Chinese cuisine earlier this week, I cracked open my customary fortune cookie to discover the tidbit of knowledge contained therein. The tiny slip of paper read: “In all matters of opinion, you always say it better.”
Given my profession, and the reason I had visited the eatery in the first place, I was particularly amused by this fortune. I’d gone there to do a restaurant review, and, now, my complimentary confection was trying to butter me up with a compliment!
I’d like to thank that fortuitous food for its faith in me, and I hope that this piece lives up to its flattering forecast.
This week’s Great Escape takes us for Bites Nearby at , where, from soup to nuts, thoroughly enjoyed a fresh and earthy repast.
Located in Waterdam Center in McMurray, Bean Curd offers a variety of Eastern flavors, including traditional and deluxe American Chinese fare, curry noodle dishes, and sushi.
Though many familiar favorites can be found on Bean Curd’s menu, what sets this joint about from other similar setups is the honesty of its food. Distinct ingredients come together to share the plate, rather than to allow strong flavors to push others to the backburner.
Worthy of its name, the Chicken Velvet Corn Soup was smooth, rich and seductive. The combination of seemingly bland components popped with bursts of sweet corn milk and hearty chicken stock, providing a balanced broth delightfully disrupted by the bite of firm corn kernels and tender chicken pieces.
No meal at a Chinese restaurant would be worth its salt without an eggroll, especially when the eggroll is as pleasing as the one served up at Bean Curd. If you were jarred by a loud crunching noise resonating along Route 19 Thursday afternoon, I’m sorry—that was me biting into this appetizer.
In addition to having major crunch, the eggroll also packed a lot of punch. The pungent taste and aroma of its cabbage and celery stuffing was not masked by excess spices or grease. Adding Bean Curd’s duck sauce proved to be a wise move, as the apricot-infused condiment bolstered the cabbage’s underlying sweetness.
When choosing to sup on Chinese chow, it’s common practice for my family to eat an early dinner during a restaurant’s late lunch hours so that we can more affordably order a variety of dishes to experience together.
During Bean Curd’s lunch service, which is available Monday through Saturday from 12 to 3 p.m., my family and I ordered a trio of dishes. Coming from both the lunch and dinner menus, our selections represented the land, sky and sea and were dressed with Bean Curd’s spicy, mild and sweet sauces, respectively.
The Portabella Mushroom Home Style with beef, a Kitchen Special dinner entrée, was brought to our table on an artfully garnished plate which entertained our eyes before entertaining our mouths and bellies.
Large chunks of fresh portabella mushrooms gave a meaty, woodsy base to the dish, which was heightened by the flavor and texture contrasts of sweet red bell peppers, bitter asparagus, crisp pea pods and soft slices of beef. A full-bodied spicy brown sauce lightly coated the elements of the dish without covering up the tastes of each individual ingredient.
Bean Curd has a Make Your Own Special Lunch lunch special, whereby diners can choose the vegetable, protein and sauce of their main dish, served with steamed, fried or brown rice and preceded by choice of soup.
To placate the palates of our young daughters, the main dish we created consisted of sautéed green beans and chicken in a house white wine sauce. It was a delicate dish, mostly notable for its simplicity and the sharp snap of its fresh green beans.
By far the most outstanding of our selections was the Honey Walnut Shrimp. I ordered it to challenge the establishment, as it is a dish often improperly prepared at many American Chinese restaurants. In the end, however, it won me over.
Unlike what can best be described at other eateries as fritters swimming in heavy syrup, Bean Curd’s preparation of Honey Walnut Shrimp was subtle and fragrant. The large crispy-friend shrimp were lightly breaded, with more shrimp than breading and not at all greasy, letting the ocean essence of the obviously fresh seafood reach the taste buds.
Explained as a “honey with tomato pink sauce” on the menu, the dish’s dressing did not overpower the seafood, but rather praised it with slightly acidic tones and floral tenors. Honey-toasted walnuts topped off the offering, a healthy fatty-protein well-poised against the restrained sweet and sour sauce.
Fresh, clean and careful are the top three words I would use to describe the food at Bean Curd. If I had to pick a fourth, I’d choose “recommended.”
For those looking to sample an even wider array of Bean Curd’s amazing dishes, a small buffet is presented during weekday lunch hours, priced around $7 for adults and $4 for children.
Visit the Bean Curd website to lean more about the restaurant and its full menu.