Located at the end of an ordinary strip
mall across the street from Tropical Park on Bird Road, Tropical
Chinese Restaurant has been a hidden gem for 27 years. And
while the exterior isn't much, the interior décor transports diners
to Chinatown, San Francisco or New York or Los Angeles. The tables are
dressed in crisp, white linen. Large, red Chinese lanterns hang from
the ceiling. Stoic, polite servers are dressed in black
and gathered in the center of the dining room. The classy ambiance is
enhanced by the Flamenco guitar music that gave way to jazz during
the course of the evening when I visited recently.
The open kitchen, which is
enclosed by glass windows, allows guests in the main dining room to
watch cooks diligently chop, saute, and steam. It is in there magic happens to a Peking duck. Located under the appetizer
heading of the menu, the Peking duck ($39) is really an entree
that easily feeds two.
Roasted in the kitchen to a perfect
combination of succulent meat and crispy skin, the whole duck is
brought into the dining room on an oval tray and prepared table-side. One server begins trimming the bird while the
other carefully rolls the crispy strips into a flour pancake
with scallions, cucumber, and plum sauce. A bowl of plum sauce is
then placed on the table. Two stands of five rolls are set on the
table. There are complements of sweet and savory, hot and cold,
smooth and crisp textures. The rest of the duck goes back to the
kitchen for prepping as an entree.
Just as the duck rolls were
being finished, a tray came out with the meat of the bird, including
two legs, served stir-fry style with bamboo shoots, peppers, and
carrots. Two sides of white rice were brought out as well. The
stir-fry is a rich combination of flavors that don't detract from the
integrity of the main ingredient: the Peking duck.
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cookies with lousy fortunes, and orange halves are brought out at the end of the meal. These are complimentary.With a pot of hot tea ($1 per person),
the total for two of us came to $44.28 plus tip. I'd say that's a
steal for a Saturday night date.