Veekoo Asian Cuisine
564 Lancaster Avenue
Berwyn Shopping Center
When husband-and-wife team Tony & Shelly Li, proprietors of the popular Veekoo Asian Cuisine in Royersford, discovered that a significant number of their loyal patrons lived and/or worked along the Main Line, they decided that it might be a good idea to expand their culinary endeavors in the direction of that burgeoning client base. Thus, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, Veekoo’s second location made its debut in the Berwyn Shopping Center.
If a restaurant has particularly good vibes – and serves up equally good food – it can be difficult (if not impossible) to duplicate the same magic at a new location; quite often, something gets “lost in transition.” Fortunately that is not the case here… If you’re a fan of the original Veekoo, you’re bound to flip over the new Berwyn outpost.
Whereas the interior of the original Veekoo exudes a decidedly casual elegance, its younger sibling is more stylishly chic in tone – though just as comfortable. The main dining area is awash in subdued lighting, rich mahogany, and black leather & napery, with pale gold draperies, silver hanging beaded room dividers, and a creamy white rear wall adding beautiful touches of color and textural contrast.
Just to the right as you enter there is also a more diminutive dining space dominated by a sleek high-top seven-seat sushi bar. I don’t know who was responsible for the striking interior décor, but he/she/they did an absolutely splendid job of understating the case... Modish the decorative embellishments may be, but they still manage to envelop diners in a beguilingly warm ambiance.
Enticing décor notwithstanding, it is the superior quality of the pan-Asian cuisine that keeps patrons coming through the door. The food at Veekoo Royersford has always been several cuts above any similar eatery in the area; but I think the Berwyn location actually goes it one better. Presentations just seem better focused, more provocatively presented, and apportionments a tad more generous; in addition, the menu incorporates a number of interesting items not found at Royersford restaurant.
The sushi/sashimi is particularly recommended here… and there are a slew of possibilities. You may order sushi or sashimi à la carte, chef’s special rolls, or also a number of entrées, including the “Love Boat,” a Titanic-size vessel filled with 18 pieces of sashimi, 10 pieces of sushi, and 3 rolls. On the other hand, I have always been of the opinion – as have other food writers – that sushi/sashimi is best consumed as an appetizer rather than the main course.
In this regard, recently sampled was a starter of tuna tataki, thin slices of black pepper seared tuna set on a bed of asparagus and baby spinach bathed in a pungent yuzu sauce. The yuzu is a tart, aromatic East Asian citrus fruit with a taste that has often been described as a cross between a grapefruit and a lime. Yuzu kosho, a spicy Japanese sauce made with the zest of the fruit, plus chili peppers and salt, proved the perfect foil for the meaty tuna.
Other non-sushi appetizers include all the usual suspects. Of particular note are the luscious steamed dumplings – vegetable, chicken, or pork – served up with a ponzu sauce. My nod, however, would undoubtedly go to the pristinely fresh lettuce wraps – diced chicken or shrimp – companioned by a rich, viscous hoisin sauce.
The thing that really sets Veekoo apart is that, no matter what your predilections on a given day – comfort food or more innovative fare – you will not be disappointed. Among the former, for example, the chicken in black bean sauce is a perpetual winner… ditto the spicy basil chicken with vegetables, which is indigenous to the Berwyn location. On the other hand, it’s difficult to beat my wife’s favorite, pristinely fresh jumbo shrimp with a colorful array of crunchy vegetables (pictured). Other comfort favorites include shredded pork in garlic sauce, roast pork fried rice, sautéed fresh green beans, chicken/beef chow fun, and a zippy Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce.
But if you really want to know what this kitchen is capable of, be sure to check out the chef’s specials. They may be more expensive than the aforementioned entrées, but they are certainly worth the added expenditure. Take the salt-baked flounder, for instance… This is really something of a misnomer, as the morsels of filet are lightly breaded and then sautéed (rather than baked) with a touch of salt and pepper. The seasoning is perfectly complementary, and the fish itself moist and flaky.
On the other hand, if you’re more carnivorously inclined, the black pepper filet mignon is something of a must. Delicate beef medallions are accompanied by crunchy snow peas and bathed in a zesty black pepper sauce. The filets are incredibly tender and the sauce produces just enough heat to invigorate rather than incinerate your sensitive taste buds. I generally don’t order beef in a Chinese restaurant, but this is one dish that is certainly worthy of a return engagement.
The lemon chicken is another not-to-be-missed presentation. A white meat breast is pounded thin, lightly battered, and gently fried until the crust reaches a delightfully crispy consistency. It is then cut into bite-size pieces, garnished with slices of orange and accompanied by a ramekin of the chef’s special lemon (lemon-orange) sauce. While the crust is ingratiating crispy, the chicken itself remains tender, and the sauce adds just the right combo of sweetness and spice.
If you’re a devoted fan of the original Veekoo in Royersford, you will certainly want to pay a call at Tony & Shelly Li’s chic & stylish new facility. Just remember… like its elder sibling, Veekoo Berwyn is a BYOB restaurant.
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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