Veekoo Asian Cuisine
333 Tenth Avenue
Veekoo Asian Cuisine is the mean between two
gastronomic extremes... between what I term the "Standard Chinese Sit-Downer" and
the "Gourmet Dynasty." In the former, expect to find a full complement of
assorted restaurant personnel, all ready, willing, and (usually) able to be of
service to a highly diverse clientele that plans to stay put for a spell (as
opposed to scruffy little take-out joints). Be prepared for décor that is
generally nondescript, prices that are generally inexpensive/moderate, and food
that is generally in the fair to good range. With regard to the latter, if you
have yet to visit this new breed of Chinese chophouse, fasten your seatbelt.
The chefs are imported, the menus stylishly artistic, and the waiters tuxedoed...
ditto the tariffs. And the cuisine may or may not be on a par with the prices,
ranging in scope from semi-good to extraordinary.
Despite its location in yet another characterless strip-mall,
Veekoo's interior -- as opposed to the bland-leading-the-bland decorative
scheme of the "Standard Sit-Downer" -- exudes a touch of understated elegance...
yet without the outrageous tabs often generated by the "Gourmet Dynasty." And
the food isn't bad either.
That is, when the kitchen sticks to Chinese cuisine. When it
ventures into Thailand, however, the results are not nearly so auspicious. The
chicken satay ($4.95) is dry and stringy and served up with a ho hum duck sauce
rather than a provocative peanut sauce. And the supposedly spicy samba mango
shrimp ($12.95) is really standard issue Chinese sweet and sour crustaceans
attempting (unsuccessfully) to impersonate their betters. Even the crispy fried
-- which instantly becomes soggy fried -- tilapia swimming in a zippy coconut
sauce ($13.95) fails to hit the mark.
No, cast your lot with the Chinese offerings and you won't
be disappointed. Each item, whether appetizer or entrée, is carefully prepared
and attractively presented, as opposed to bearing uncanny resemblance to a
mishmash that had inadvertently been dropped onto the plate from
twenty-thousand feet. A pristine bed of shredded lettuce here, an alluring
garnish there; these little extras clearly indicate that the kitchen goes out
of its way to make the food as pleasing to the eye as it is pleasurable to the
Among the starters, the pot stickers, both the Peking-style
pork ($5.95) and the vegetable variety ($4.95), are excellent. The steamed
dumplings are just the right texture -- not at all doughy -- and are seasoned
just right. The egg rolls ($1.50) and soups ($2.00 - $6.95) don't set any new
culinary standards, but all are quite satisfying preludes.
What would be considered main courses include: shredded pork
in garlic sauce ($8.95); zippy Chinese eggplant ($8.95); sautéed fresh green
beans ($7.95); sautéed spinach in crushed garlic ($7.95); Sweet & sour
chicken ($8.95); jumbo shrimp with black bean sauce ($11.95).Yes, all the usual
suspects are present and accounted for. But the key here is not to be found in
originality but in consistency. As noted above, all are pristinely fresh,
lovingly prepared, and nicely presented.
On the other hand, if you're more adventurous of palate --
and don't mind shelling out a little more long green -- the house favorites are
highly recommended. The Tilapia ($14.95), for example, may be ordered
pan-seared in a mild Chinese rice wine or sautéed with spicy Szechuan
seasonings on a seabed of Mandarin noodles. You might also consider the zesty
Mandarin lamb stew ($16.95) or the top-of-the-line Peking duck served with
spring pancakes and other authentic accoutrements ($28.95).
Desserts are frozen Italian imports courtesy of Bindi. My
advice is to take a bye and -- during the warmer weather -- scoot around the block
to enjoy Nelson's delicious homemade ice cream (627 Walnut Street,
610-948-1282), a delicious conclusion to any meal.
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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