Though Pearl Wok's chefs specialize in the cuisine of China's Hunan region, they're savvy enough put their spin on other Chinese-American classics. Patrons eagerly share platters of glistening general tso's chicken, wrap mu-shu pork in savory pancakes, and inhale the fragrance of coffee-smoked duck before deliberating over which type of donut would best sop up its juices. Chefs also sear scallops and shrimp on sizzling hot plates and ladle vegetables over crispy, pan-fried, and boiled noodles. Drinks that range from creamy thai iced tea to the sweet Singapore Sling cocktail punctuate meals with flavor, and then desserts such as strawberry fried cheesecake or red bean ice cream neutralize palates with sweetness.
Carved straight-backed chairs and hanging crimson lanterns cultivate a traditional Chinese vibe inside Golden Shanghai's spacious dining room. Nearby, a wall with strings of firecrackers and golden Buddha statues creates an exotic backdrop for family dinners or faked vacation photos. In keeping with the traditional décor theme, chefs plate MSG-free Chinese classics such as crispy duck and spicy Hunan beef as well as more adventurous specialties from a separate authentic-Chinese menu.
Elsewhere, however, the kitchen defies standard categories, bringing together the disparate cuisines of Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam for eclectic feasts. Tender morsels of Thai satay chicken share table space with Japanese sushi and udon, and chefs also stir up bowls of Vietnamese noodle soup. As they chomp their way through the tastes of the East, visitors can toast another year of not renewing their passport with glasses of tropical cocktails or frosty, thirst-quenching beers.
China Star maintains a speedy team of delivery drivers to fill homes with the warm aromas and comforting flavors of classic Chinese cuisine, whether it's tangles of egg noodles wound around juicy shrimp or seared pieces of pork buried in grains of fried rice. Chunks of chicken, beef, or tofu acquire stylish glazes of General Tso’s sauce, sesame sauce, or curried lime sauce, and Thai influences shine through in plates of pad thai, bowls of green and pineapple red curry, and the chefs' secret love of kickboxing.
Amid rough-hewn stone walls and exposed wooden rafters, Belvedere fills plates with traditional Polish entrees. Each pierogi’s pillowy pocket hides meat or cheese, and gouda stuffs a homemade polish sausage. Roasted duck is served on a mound of sweet red cabbage, and veal schnitzel arrives slathered in hunter’s sauce, which actual hunters cover themselves in to hide from their prey. Lunchtime covers tables with sandwiches that include bacon-wrapped chicken, sliced meatballs, and kielbasa with sauerkraut.
Easily identifiable by its stone façade and neon red sign, P.F. Chang’s China bistro is a thriving oasis of Americanized Chinese food that’s geared toward those who appreciate familiarity. This Lower Downtown spot is the ideal spot for those with tastes that lean toward crab wontons, egg rolls and huge plates of fried rice, lo mein and beef with broccoli. The signature lettuce wraps, tucked with wok-seared chicken and vegetables, live up to the hype, and the trio of dipping sauces – hot mustard, chile paste and a concoction of chile oil, white vinegar and soy sauce – up the flavor quotient. A large cocktail syllabus, along with housemade, non-alcoholic sodas, beer, wine and a selection of hot teas, round out the experience.
The trainers at Streets Fitness believe that to progress physically, fitness relies on variation. To that end, they encourage clients to explore the gym’s full stock of weight-training and cardio equipment, as well as its 40 weekly classes. The class selection includes self-defense training such as boxing and kickboxing, in which guests burn calories as they perfect their martial techniques and figure out their entrance theme songs. And circuit training and core-conditioning sessions are also available, including The Grid, a full-body cross-training workout that was voted one of the area's best workouts by the Daily Camera. Streets also offers one-on-one personal-training sessions, in which coaches fine-tune workouts depending on patrons' goals and the severity of their heavy-bag phobias.