Diners at Formosa Asian Cuisine certainly can't complain about a lack of choices: more than 100 pad thai, fried rice, and curry dishes fill the menu, which is organized into beef, chicken, pork, and seafood categories. Quite a few of the dishes turn up the heat—the Dragon & Phoenix tosses jumbo shrimp and general tso's chicken in chili sauce—and others deliver crispy textures, such as the deep-fried duck. Diners savor these meals and sip BYOB beverages in a dining room replete with tasteful touches from pale-pink seating and blond-wood accents to linen napkins folded to eerily resemble your favorite Beatle.
Nestled in the New Britain Village Shopping Center, Gourmet Wok unfurls a pan-Pacific spread of Chinese, and Southeast Asian cuisine that spurns the use of MSG. Guests tote their own beverages to pair with a dinner menu of sumptuous dishes—try chef specialties such as the tangerine beef ($11.95), marinated and tickled over a high flame, or the sizzling subgum wor ba ($12.95), a slumber party of lobster, shrimp, chicken, beef, and veggies gossiping about the uninvited pork. Edamame appetizers ($3.75) make way for the mock chicken with chinese eggplant ($9.95), a seitan-based dish trained as a body double for chicken's grill-jumping stunts.
The ingredients used in Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine are vastly different, as are the methods of preparation. At Zhuang's Garden, they come together in surprising ways. Eight crackling hibachi-grill tables and a sushi bar represent Japan, and Chinese décor and the aromas of lo mein hint at the traditions of that nation. Glasses of wine clink together above plates of Thai food at the BYOB eatery, where the dishes include curry that is the brilliant yellow of turmeric or a banana salesman’s business card.
The tantalizing smells of chicken simmering in a savory sauce or buttery lobster hit the nose before guests can fully discern where the aromas originate. They might be coming from a plate of chicken slathered with black-bean or garlic sauce or lobster buried in lo mein or fried rice. These are just some of the dishes New China Restaurant’s chefs whip up alongside classic favorites such as general tso’s chicken and mongolian beef, as well as shrimp prepared eight different ways.
Noodles steal the spotlight on the menu at SangKee Noodle House, where chefs churn out popular noodle-based entrees from China, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand. Diners can customize their own soups by selecting from various meats and six types of noodles, or they can choose from a number of tried-and-true dishes, such as lo mein, chow fun, or pad thai. Chefs also whip up peking duck, dim-sum-style dumplings, and smoothies blended from fruit, tapioca, and condensed milk, which comes from cows that have only read the CliffsNotes recipe for regular milk.
Wok Chinese Seafood Restaurant fills its vast menu with an atlas of eats, drawing inspiration from China’s Hunan and Szechuan provinces as well as the capital city of Beijing. The kitchen prepares traditional favorites, whipping together hot and spicy shrimp and steamed sea bass in a scallion-ginger sauce alongside beef with broccoli and chicken lo mein. The menu also includes house specialties such as the Dragon and Phoenix, whose chicken breasts, lobster meat, and snow peas are not formally recognized by zoologists as either dragon or phoenix. Red lanterns hang above the dining room, where a mural of a woman flying through swirling clouds is complemented by the whimsy of each table’s pink-cloth napkins.