Metairie 3: Houma Blvd To Kenner Line: 2222 Clearview Pkwy. 504-885-8881. Map. WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY WHAT'S GOOD BACKSTORY DINING ROOM ESSENTIAL DISHES FOR BEST RESULTS OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
AE DC DS MC V
A good-looking restaurant in an inconveniently-located strip mall, Beijing "Nice Dining Restaurant" (as its menu calls it) has a menu that recalls the Chinese restaurants of thirty years ago in that it lists some 140 dishes covering almost every combination of proteins, vegetables, and sauces you've ever had in a Chinese restaurant. It's about evenly split between the Contonese and spicier Szechuan classics.
What's good about a restaurant like this is being able to find dishes one hasn't had in ages. Mei Fun rice noodles, for example, are not widely served; they make them seven ways here. What's less good is that the cooking is not especially polished. The ingredients seem decent, but the executions of the dishes are off balance. Some dishes have texture problems; I've never had dumplings quite as leaden as these. The best dishes are those in the "chef's specialties" department--especially after you pass by the ones with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, and scallops all in one plate. (Chinese rtestaurant cook those strictly for greedy Americans.)
Beijing opened in 2008 in part of what once was a failed supermarket. The management and staff seems to be on the young side, cheerful and eager to please. Curiosity: almost every price on the menu ends in either thirty, sixty, or ninety cents. The take-out business seems to outperform the dining room trade.
The owners performed a fine renovation of the space, which except for the entrance is comfortable and handsome. The wood floors, bold Chinese graphics, and attractive booth upholstery make for a pleasant dining ambience. Getting to the restaurant is a bit challenging if you don't know the neighborhood. While it's easily visible from the southwest quadrant of the Cleaview-I-10 interchange, the mall is on the service road, and the right lane changes and turns is not intuitive.
Hot and sour soup.
Vegetable bean curd soup for two.
Velvet chicken and corn soup for two.
Seafood soup for two.
Crawfish spring roll.
Cold spicy noodles.
Chicken in lettuce wraps.
Chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp with broccoli, snow peas, or aspsragus.
Kung pao chicken.
Chicken or pork with hot garlic sauce.
Dragon and Phoenix (sesame chicken and shrimp with chili sauce).
Soft-shell crab in garlic sauce.
Singapore style mei fun noodles.
Ma po tofu.
Unless there's a favorite old dish you see in the columns of standard dishes, stay with the chef's specials, which include a few very good items. If you like your food spicy, be very emphatic about that. They seem afraid to add enough red pepper. The entire appetizer list is ordinary.
The prices are so low--almost every entree is between $11 and $15--that I can't help but thinking they'd do better with more careful cooking and higher prices.
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
WHY IT'S NOTEWORTHY
FOR BEST RESULTS
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- Reservations accepted