Here's another Chinese place for you to try out next time you're craving some authentic eats: Asiana Garden, located right around Seafood City on Olive. The menu covers most of the Chinese regions, but the majority of dishes are from Tianjin, a city just south of Beijing. I had never been before, so I went with a few coworkers for lunch.
We kicked things off with the [symple_highlight color="blue"]pork with spicy garlic sauce[/symple_highlight], a dish that would be more accurately called pork with ten thousand diced, fiery hot chilies, and some garlic. Just look at that! It's tender and fatty slices of pork drenched in chili oil and chilies. You can taste the spice from your computer. I couldn't eat too much of it, but I thought it was tasty if you can handle the heat and ignore the fact you're eating a whole lot of pork fat.
As I've mentioned in the past, I am a Chinese dumpling fiend, so there was no way I was skipping out on the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Tianjin style steam buns[/symple_highlight]. What a disappointment. I'm not sure if they were over-steamed or the dough just isn't good, but they came out extremely soggy. Still, I persevered, hoping their filling would be better than their exteriors. They were not. The pork filling was bland and generic. Skip these.
One of my coworkers got the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Yu Shan fish[/symple_highlight] lunch plate, which came with rice, crab rangoon and a bowl of soup for $8 or so. Pretty good deal. I despise crab rangoon, but the soup was pretty good, apparently, and I thought the fish was tasty as well. I felt bad eating her food--I'm a real gentleman--so I can't comment too much on it.
If you are a glutton for punishment, you need to try the [symple_highlight color="blue"]beef tendon soup[/symple_highlight]. Holy hell, this is one of the hottest soups I've ever had. It's like someone boiled a pot full of chili oil filled with peppercorns and decided that was a good soup base. I've had plenty of beef noodle soups and never had one like this. I cannot recommend it because I fear for the safety of your mouth and intestines.
I have no idea why I decided to get Szechuan [symple_highlight color="blue"]Dan Dan Mian[/symple_highlight] at a Tianjin restaurant. Well, I do know why: I'm always hoping I'll find one as delicious as Crystal Jade in Singapore, but this was just about the opposite of that. This tasted like instant noodles in some generic spicy sauce. It didn't taste bad, it tasted like nothing. This was the worst dish of the meal and unquestionably the most flavorless Dan Dan I've had in my life. I guess that's my punishment for ordering something I knew they didn't specialize in.
This meal wasn't terribly impressive, but I saw enough authenticity in most of the dishes that I will return. I'll go for dinner with a large group since you can get a lot of dishes and share. I'm looking forward to trying their sweet & sour fish in "squirrel shape", which is just a fish that has been sliced a number of times and fried. It's supposed to be delicious.
If you really want to impress your friends, you can order some of these dishes for the table to share: stewed bull penis, spicy pig ears, jellyfish, and sea cucumber with green onion. It doesn't get much more authentic than that.
7930 Olive Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63130