There’s an interesting obsession with Chinese food in Grand Forks.
Drive down Washington Avenue and you’ll see a plethora of Mexican restaurants. Drive down Columbia, and you’ll find Chinese.
One of those restaurants is Phoenix Wok & Grill. It was time to eat late on a Friday night and I decided to check out Fuji, the new Japanese hibachi grill on Washington.
The wait was 45 minutes.
So I headed off to plan B, Phoenix.
It was oddly quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of Fuji, being a Friday night (and a UND hockey night, nonetheless), I expected a large gathering of people in almost every restaurant I went to. No, Phoenix had a whopping 12 customers.
The décor was interesting, not unlike a typical Chinese restaurant you’ll find in any town. The TV’s on the wall playing various sports and cable news were rather distracting for a Friday night dinner service.
Beef consume soup.
The soup came as the first course. Basically a clarified beef stock, the soup wasn’t anything to write about. Most Chinese places use the consume soup as a starter and it baffles me.
It wouldn’t take that much more to have a decent egg drop or hot and sour soup as the opener, and it would have knocked the diner’s expectations up a notch. Regardless, the consume soup was good, though a touch too salty for my liking.
My first impression: “For god’s sake, wipe the bowl!”
It’s certainly not a fancy dish. It’s not hard to present. But when you have some picky diners that eat with their eyes, presentation matters.
The taste, however, was quite delicious. The bold spice of the curry with the texture of the chicken made this a satisfying dish. On a cold winter day, nothing beats a good curry. It was’t overpowering with spice (to my standards, it might be too spicy for some midwestern palates).
Also: that sheen of oil reflecting in the photo isn’t quite right. The dish wasn’t outrageously oily or greasy, but it affected the texture.
Being Chinese, my mother always has to order a noodle dish. She claims long noodles bring long life to those who eat them.
This dish was pretty standard and featured the crunch and texture of many vegetables. I was overall impressed with the presentation of the noodles, heaped in a large bowl. It was virtually impossible for the two of us to make a dent in the dish, creating some very tasty leftovers (Chinese food is better the next day, anyway).
I’d order this again any day.
This dish knocked everything else out of the park.
Forget the odd decor, forget the tacky plastic tablecloths or the oversalted soup. I’m going to be coming back to Phoenix wok just for this dish.
The texture was crispy, with a slight “kick” from the sesame sauce balanced with sweet honey.
It was simply a delicious play on tastes and textures. The salty chicken, sweet honey, spicy sesame dressing, crispy skin. It was good.
Sesame chicken leftovers vanished from my fridge within 24 hours.
The overall dinner service was good. Our waitstaff was attentive and kept our glasses full of water. Food was promptly served to our table and we were pleased with what we got.
Would I come back?
Yes. While some dishes had room for improvement, Phoenix was a good place for a Friday night dinner. It left me satisfied for the night, and kept my refrigerator stocked with plenty of leftovers.