On Saturday night, we decided to try the "new Asian place" in Cooper-Young. Take one look at the sidebar there and it's pretty clear that we are serious fans of Asian food.
Cooper-Young is fairly bustling on Saturday nights and it took us a few trips around the block to find a parking spot...about three blocks away. When I told Satchel (age 9) that we had to walk three blocks he reacted as though I had just told him I had killed a puppy. Having spent three weekends in New Orleans this month, where I (happily) did quite a bit of walking, I simply ignored his protests. I also had to assume he was starving. The three block walk was actually full of angst on everyone's part. "Let's go eat and I promise we'll all be in a better mood on the walk back," I said optimistically.
It was about 8:30pm when we arrived, and the restaurant was quite full, despite not having a beer license yet. (What!) The space is very large, so we were thankfully able to get a table right away. I didn't spot any other families, but it was a tad late. We were seated next to a large table of first and second generation Chinese people, which always bodes well at an Asian restaurant.
Warren ordered some tea, and we tackled the menu.
Jiro (age 7) had been craving sushi, and since the restaurant has a large sushi bar, he requested a crunchy shrimp roll. He was pretty hungry too, so he asked for miso soup and chicken fried rice as well. Warren always likes to get pork fried rice, so they had to come up with a compromise: Spam fried rice! Warren lived in Hawaii as a child, so Spam is like comfort food to him.
The menu also featured traditional Chinese dishes like Chongqing Style Boiled Blood Curd, Szechuan Spicy Sauteed Pig Intestine and Steamed Fish Head With Pickled Chili Sauce. Warren was definitely attracted to the racier dishes, but opted for #74 which was braised pork and buns. (Coincidentally, the table next to us also ordered this so Warren felt like he made a good choice.)
Satchel was uncharacteristically decisive and asked for sweet and sour chicken. (We went to Pei Wei the night before with some friends, and he may have had a taste of it there.)
I wanted a tofu dish, but the waitress didn't have answers to my many questions about what was included. ("Crispy tofu" wasn't descriptive enough for me.) So, I just bit the bullet and went with tofu in curry sauce.
The monkeys' soup came out right away and Jiro was stoked that the miso soup came with "crunchies."
It was also at this time that everyone unwrapped their silverware. "Look! Fish!"
The waitress also brought over some pickled cabbage for us to nosh. It was tasty.
There was a little excitement at the table behind us. The waiter delivered a giant hot pot and accidentally spilled a good bit of it on his wrist. I felt bad for him, but was impressed that he managed to keep his shit together. Had he flinched just a bit more, the whole pot could have gone flying. I'm not sure the people at the table were as impressed with his composure as I was.
Warren noted that Hawaii 5-0 was playing on the TV. (Cool.)
The manager came by several times to check on us. (Nice.)
Shortly after polishing off the soup and cabbage, our entrees started arriving. My curry tofu was first.
I thought it looked very pretty. It tasted ok, but the tofu was really spongey. I think it would have been better with crispy tofu. (Or maybe the tofu was crispy at first and it soaked up too much sauce?)
Next up was the Spam fried rice, which Jiro quickly declared to be the best fried rice ever. (It was good, but Spam is damn salty!)
Oh, and if you haven't noticed from the quality of the photos, they keep it fairly dark in the restaurant at night.
Next was the sweet and sour chicken.
Even though this is basically the chicken nuggets of Chinese cuisine, it was really good. Maybe because it came out hot & crispy. Satchel noted, "I always order the good stuff and you guys act like vultures." Hilarious.
Next to arrive was Jiro's crunchy shrimp roll, which I asked for without cucumber. He loved the presentation and the unagi sauce on the side. Jiro went on and on..."This is fantastic! This is delicious! I have a party in my tummy!" Adorable.
The last dish to come out was Warren's pork.
The kids were a bit baffled by the buns, but when I explained that it was just bread, they were all over them. The pork was very tasty and the manager said it could be eaten on the bun like a sandwich or with rice. By the time it came out, I think we had already thoroughly stuffed ourselves, so we only ate a little. "Bring the buns home!" Satchel demanded.
While we waited on the check, we discussed what to wear in a zombie apocalypse. Warren said he'd wear body armor if possible. If not he'd wear one close fitting outfit with baggy clothes on top. I could see the monkeys taking note.
Our total came to $61.00, which is about what we'd spend at Sekisui. So, Mulan has been put in our "special occasion" file, which is good since Jiro emphatically said, "I'm probably coming here on my birthday." (That is high praise!)
Warren and I may go for lunch.
A few final notes:
We requested to go boxes, which were polystyrene. However, the server packed up our leftovers, which is always a nice touch.
Satchel and Jiro both got the same fortune in their cookies. It said that in exactly three months they would have a great surprise. I marked my calendar for June 24th.
There is no changing table in the women's restroom.
As we walked back to the car, everyone was happily chatting and carrying on. Told ya so.