Ming Dynasty

subject: Ming Dynasty
take-out vehicle: "Chinese" box
cost: $18.42

I have to admit that I haven't been to many Chinese restaurants, and I've been to far fewer with the intent to get take-out. In fact, I've only gotten Chinese take-out from one place: Ming Dynasty. Why only Ming Dynasty? Well, because my wife wouldn't hear of going anywhere else. "Ming" has been a longtime favorite of hers, and over the almost ten years of our courtship and marriage (that's crazy!), it's become a favorite of mine as well.

Despite changing owners a few years ago, the food at Ming Dynasty has remained pretty much the same, thanks in large part to the fact that the original owner's recipes were sold with the restaurant. A couple of items on the menu, however, seemed to suffer from the regime change, including my wife's former "go-to" dish, the vegetarian sesame chicken. We've ordered it several times since the original owner left, but we still can't put our finger on what's different. It's just...not as good.

Two dishes that have remained basically the same, however, are the hunan chicken (pictured) and the kung pao chicken. Though the carrots were missing from my hunan chicken, the dish was as I've always had it—which was unfortunate, because I ordered mine extra spicy. Still, I enjoyed it.

My favorite part, by far, was the broccoli. I have no idea how they prepared it, but the florets were very soft and had soaked up all kinds of flavor from the sauce, yet the stalks were crunchy and fresh. The chicken was not over-cooked, and the sauce, while not my now-preferred extra spicy, was rich and peppery enough to satisfy me.

My wife's kung pao (which was a little more spicy than usual...hmmm), was, in my opinion, not as good, but then again I'm not a fan of nuts in my entrees, be they peanuts, cashews, water chestnuts, or otherwise. Sans the nuts, I thought the kung pao was largely texture-less, except for the slight chew I got from the chicken. I wasn't a fan, but my wife loved it.

The spring rolls we ordered were warm, slightly greasy, and full of cabbage. There may have been a shred of carrot in there, perhaps two. Of course I would have preferred a proper spring roll (fresh julienned vegetables, chopped herbs, a sprinkle of rice vinegar, a dash of sugar, maybe some seafood, all steamed in rice paper and served with a spicy dipping sauce), but despite its having been fried and filled almost entirely with cabbage, it was actually pretty good. Even so, my fingers remain crossed in the hope that, by the next time I order one, they'll have changed the recipe to something a little bit more lively.

I have no doubt that I'll eat again at Ming Dynasty. I'm sure it's not the best Chinese food around, but it's tasty, it's familiar, and it's comforting, and sometimes that's all take-out food should be.

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