18 August 2009

Charleston Chinese

For six years, I have wondered why Charleston did not have better Chinese food. Something fresh, non-grease laden, and generally delicious. I am happy to report that upon recommendation, I ventured to Red Orchids China Bistro, located in the Ashley Plaza Mall on Sam Rittenberg Blvd.

I know, if you don't live off the Charleston peninsula, or on James Island for that matter, I may have lost you. But as skeptical as I was of its location, (Between Big Lots and Burlington Coat Factory), Red Orchids was a refreshing surprise. Red Orchids is modern, with a simple and tastefully decorated dining room (red-hued obviously), a front bar and friendly staff. What skepticism remained was lost when I read a sign on the door saying, "No Buffet!".

I had read on Urban Spoon that Red Orchids, "Made P.F. Chang's look like a Denny's," so I was excited to see the menu and was so far in agreement. Our server happily informed us of the specials which included a Lobster Wonton and an entree I don't recall, but also that everything was made in-house with the exception of the duck sauce (!!!!!). I am officially impressed, but I digress. We started with the Lettuce Wraps, which were very similar to the P.F. Chang's variety. Spicy chicken stir-fried with shitake mushrooms and crunchy water chestnuts served in chilled lettuce cups with a dipping sauce. I ordered the Hunan Chicken as our server had also mentioned that any entree with the Hunan sauce was a good choice. Stir-fried chicken with mushrooms, peppers, bamboo shoots and snow peas. We also tried the Tangerine Chicken which was a fresher take on sweet & sour chicken, crispy fried then stir-fried with orange peel and a sweet & hot sauce.

Now I rarely order dessert at a Chinese restaurant, but Red Orchids offers freshly made ice cream in some pretty unorthodox and interesting flavors. We tried Green Tea and Ginger. Both were really good - Green Tea was nutty like pistachio and the Ginger spicy. I cannot even recall all of the other flavors but a few that we didn't try included coconut and lychee.

All great choices, all things I would have again. We will definitely be back and will undoubtedly try something else that is sure to be delicious. If you have been missing out on good Chinese food in Charleston, here's your chance!

Red Orchid's China Bistro on Urbanspoon

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