The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Berger's Bites: China vs. Asia

By Andrew Berger

The prospect of ordering take out Chinese food tends to illicit an opinionated response. Some explode with excitement at the idea; others cringe at the thought of the M.S.G induced dizziness that may follow their meal. Despite the risk of ending up bloated and lethargic, most students, myself included, love the idea of ordering Chinese. Entering “Chinese Food St. Paul” into Google yields a number of results, but surprisingly, only a small number of the restaurants listed are willing to deliver. The non-delivery Chinese Restaurants tried to coax me into dining in, but I held strong and found two comparably priced delivery options, New Asia on Lexington Parkway and New China in West St. Paul. New Asia is somewhat known on campus as the quick and easy fix for a Chinese food craving. New Asia’s menu is vast but predictable, with typical Chinese-American meat, seafood, vegetable dishes, Cantonese noodle soup, Hunan and Szechwan style dishes and a number of specials and combinations. For testing purposes, I ordered from a range standard categories and the meal totaled $31.80, excluding tip.

The food came in exactly 45 minutes, as promised, and I started with hot soup. The broth in this wonton soup was well seasoned and includes chives, but the wontons fell short. They were overly starchy and the meat was somewhat slimy and bland. Dumplings followed, and seemed to be made from the same mold, however the dumpling sauce was a great combination of salty and sweet, without focusing too heavily on the vinegar.

Next on my lap was moo shu pork, which came with four moo shu pancakes yet enough moo shu pork for six or eight pancakes. The square rice pancakes were too thin and dry, and were unbendable by the end of the night. The dish included mushrooms, shredded pork, onion, sprouts, chopped chive and perhaps some cabbage. It was tasty but too salty to eat in large quantities. Their vegetable lo mein is predictably thick and greasy, full of seemingly artificial flavor.

As far as cheap seafood goes, their shrimp and lobster sauce tasted fresh, except for the fake lobster pieces, which were vile. The dish is not overly starchy, however they skimped on the shrimp, only serving up four per order. I finished up with chicken with mixed vegetables, the most fresh and satisfying of all, except for the fact that the green peppers overwhelm the flavor from the other vegetables. This dish would be quite good if the chef held the peppers and only included carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn and boc choi.

New China is located in West St. Paul, and they are somewhat reluctant to deliver to Macalester, but if you are willing to wait they will come. Their menu also sticks to the norm, and I placed the exact same order as with New Asia. It came out to nearly the exact same price, at $31.38 and came in an hour and four minutes.

New China’s wonton soup was notably yellow in color, and the broth was oily and less crisp than New Asia’s. However, New China’s wontons were excellent. They were larger, thinner, and the filling tasted much more fresh and finely ground. The dumplings followed suit, and seemed to be made with more care than at New Asia.

The moo shu pancakes numbered six and were soft and round, as they should be. The moo shu filling included onions, sprouts, mushrooms, cabbage, whole chives and pork that was well seasoned and cut in larger strips. While lo mein is typically the most dizzying of all cheap Chinese dishes, New China broke the mold, and delivered a fresh lo mein with thin noodles, modest seasoning and fresh snow peas.

In the seafood department, New China was much more generous with their shrimp, which were bigger and juicer, making the shrimp and lobster sauce a much more satisfying dish. Finally, in the chicken with mixed vegetables, New China includes zucchini, which is a perfect substitute for New Asia’s overpowering green peppers.

Despite the fact that New China took 20 minutes longer to arrive, a new China is better off than a new Asia. New China guarantees that all food is cooked fresh with no M.S.G, while New Asia embraces the cheap late night Chinese food model of cheap ingredients and mal proportional recipes that are compensated with added seasoning. American-Chinese cuisine should not be confused with genuine Chinese cuisine, of which there are numerous varieties served across the Twin Cities

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