Sangs For Your Supper
If you enter a restaurant in China and ask for "egg foo yung," a puzzled look will most assuredly cross your waiter's face. The term is meaningless in that country, the dish nonexistent, yet it's long been a popular staple in Chinese-American eateries. At Sang's Chinese Restaurant in North Miami Beach, the egg foo yung is exemplary -- three pancake-sized omelets cooked to order with bean sprouts, caramelized onions, and nuggets of roast pork, the thin brown sauce exhibiting less cornstarch gloppiness than is usually the case. With its fresh preparations of standard Cantonese fare, Sang's is just the sort of affordable, family-style Chinese-American restaurant that every neighborhood should have.
The décor of the 90-seat space is similar to that of countless Chinese restaurants around the country (although admittedly Sang's is a little more rundown than most) -- big storefront windows with red Chinese lettering stenciled in, a large room with nondescript tables and chairs, a few Asian prints hanging crookedly on the walls, an overcrowded fish tank in back. The menu, too, comprises the familiar chop suey of mu shus, moo goos, subgums, and lo meins.
Also General Cheng's chicken, which isn't listed on the lengthy regular menu, but is one of a dozen dinner specials that, for under $8, come with soup, egg roll, and pork fried rice. Sang's Cheng is battered, fried, and bathed in a mildly garlicked sweet/sour glaze. Not bad, but in General I would forgo the dinner specials, as watery-bland won ton soup, baby shrimp-flavored egg rolls, and greasy yellow pork fried rice were the least satisfying of Sang's offerings.
If it's poultry you want, pay the extra couple of dollars and get a "roast fried chicken Cantonese-style" ($9.95), meaning accompanied by a lemon wedge and bowl of salt and pepper mix. That's all this hacked half-bird needed, the skin ultra-crisp (from a quick frying before roasting), the meat inside as wet as a waterfall. There's a twenty-minute wait, verbalized by the waiter, when placing an order for this dish. That means they're cooking it up fresh. Same twenty-minute warning sounds for steamed or pan-fried dumplings, which, because they're appetizers, poses more of a timing problem. Fortunately you can solve it by simply delving into some other starters while you wait -- or eating lots of fried noodles dipped into hot mustard (oooeee!). The fried dumplings, which arrived after only ten minutes, had an overly thick wrapping (almost like an empanada crust), but were greaselessly crisp with a pleasingly seasoned pork filling.
The menu standout featured thin slices of tender flank steak and cubes of softly textured, cooked-to-the-point-of-perfection Japanese eggplant (the elongated purple type the Chinese refer to as "Chinese eggplant"), all bound in a dark, sweet, gingery garlic sauce.
Orange sections and fortune cookies at the end of the meal are utterly predictable, yet gratifying nonetheless. So is Sang's.
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