Four of us gathered for dinner, there was no line around 7:30, but the restaurant was nearly full for most of the meal. It’s a modern style decor, with a long picture menu–thumbing through the book with 2 pictures per page made it difficult to remember the top choices. Luckily, the waiter was friendly and helpful when asked for suggestions.
The much written about and ordered snowflake beef was a disappointment–very thin (but long) slices of a fatty cut were marinated and presented with a tabletop device filled with a mild chili oil and onions. You could add your own beef slices and some of the mountain of cilantro it was presented on and cook in the hot oil. To me the seasoning tasted a lot like taco seasoning from a packet, not a thought I’ve had about any cumin lamb/beef preparation before.
The shrimp with preserved vegetable was my favorite dish. Shell-on shrimp were deep fried with preserved vegetable, with some additional chili and scallion seasoning. The texture was nice and flavors well balanced.
I also enjoyed the fish preparation we got instead of the house special frog we’d heard good things about from internet whispers and the waiter. It was a lightly battered and fried yellow fish? coated with a lightly sweet garlicky sauce.
The lotus root was stir fried with some pickled chilies and some dried chilies–it was fine but unmemorable.
The smoked 3 meats was presented nicely but I wouldn’t order it again. We wanted to make sure to sample the Hunan smoked pork belly, but this dish might not have been the best to do so. The pork, chicken, and fish all had a similar smoky flavor, with little intrigue added by the chili oil poured over it. The steamed eggplant at the next table looked fairly good, and I think I would try the eggplant with smoked pork belly next time.
I’m not a dessert person, so I’m not the best to speak for them. The tofu pudding in sweet rice wine tasted mostly of almond extract. The fried glutinous rice sticks were not at all sweet, which I enjoyed, though I might have sprinkled some salt on the exterior before slathering with the sugar sauce were it available. The texture was interesting–not quite individual grains, but not smooth mochi either.
All in all, I’d say the meal was good, but not worth going out of my way for. I would order the preserved vegetable shrimp or the yellow fish again, though I’d be interested in trying the elusive house special frog, or other dishes.