Better Dread Than Red

Equally as barren of vegetables, the ginger salmon ($8.95), which rivaled the lights for bright, was as far from ginger as Gilligan. The sauce owed more to scallions than other flavors, though in truth it tasted very little like anything. The fish itself, however, was nicely proportioned and competently handled, leaving me curious about the other fish offerings: lemon spicy fish, Szechuan fish, and Beijing fish ($14.95), all served whole.

Nutritious if not delicious, the mushu chicken ($8.95), shrouded with pancakes and plum sauce, was generously sized and heaped with shredded veggies. The snow-white scallops ($9.95) were cloaked in an "egg white sauce" that nodded to cornstarch rather than eggs, but thankfully, the scallops themselves were tender. Of our samplings, this dish merited the most notice.

Despite the grudging, grumpy service and the less than average food, my companions and I achieved the goal of any diner -- to spend a relaxing evening not doing one's own cooking. But I still can't agree with the sentiment that Chinese food is like sex -- good even when it's bad. Not when that particular Chinese meal, though a pleasant reminder of my sweaty youth, is also a reminder of a sweaty school cafeteria where cellophane-gloved workers dispensed with ice cream scoops their notoriously noxious chicken chow mein.

TIGER TIGER TEAHOUSE 1624 79th Street Causeway, North Bay Village, 861-0337. Open Sunday -- Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Saturday 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

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