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At the Table: Xin Fu a good choice for a quick Chinese or Japanese meal

Sunday, May 20, 2012
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The Dragon and Phoenix entree waits consumption with a Japanese beer, artfully arranged and typical of the cuisine of Xin Fu in Latham. (photo: BEVERLY M. ELANDER/FOR THE SUNDAY GAZETTE)
The Dragon and Phoenix entree waits consumption with a Japanese beer, artfully arranged and typical of the cuisine of Xin Fu in Latham. (photo: BEVERLY M. ELANDER/FOR THE SUNDAY GAZETTE)

— Xin Fu, which our server told us means “happiness,” is one of a growing number of fusion Asian restaurants where you can get Chinese and Japanese dishes.

The servings are artfully presented and are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate, and the restaurant features lovely wall hangings and a generally serene ambiance conducive to relaxed conversation.

It was Mother’s Day and while the place wasn’t exactly crowded, there were a few tables with youngsters entertaining Mom and Grandma.

As wife Beverly and I placed our orders, I noted that she tended to gravitate to the Japanese selections and I to the Chinese, except for our beverage choices. I ordered a cold Sapporo (Japanese beer) and she, some hot sake (Japanese rice wine).

As for appetizers, I ordered a cup of wonton soup ($1.50), along with some steamed dumplings to share (six for $4). Beverly ordered the shrimp tempura roll ($6.50), shrimp fried in light batter and rolled up with rice in seaweed.

Xin Fu

WHERE: 1186 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham. 867-8888 or 867-8889

WHEN: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday

OTHER INFO: Handicapped accessible; all major credit cards accepted

COST: $47.96

Full of pork

Everything was as you’d want it to be: the subtly flavored soup arrived hot and gently aromatic, and the dumplings, delicate, tender and full of savory pork. The tempura veggies were crispy, and the spicy sauce proved a suitable complement.

We chose to eat with chopsticks because that always enhances the experience when you’re dining on Asian cuisine.

For her entrée, Beverly selected the Vegetable Tempura ($13), slices of various veggies lightly breaded and flash fried, served with a mound of white rice and a flavorful soy-based sauce for dipping. (Ordinarily, we choose brown rice, and you can get it at Xin Fu for an extra $2.)

I ordered a dish called Dragon and Phoenix ($12) which featured jumbo shrimp and fresh vegetables in a glossy white sauce on one side of the plate and crispy and spicy General Tso’s Chicken on the other with a row of thin orange slices as the divider between the two. The shrimp and veggies were delicious, and the chicken better than most examples of the dish with just the right balance of tart-sweetness and heat from red pepper flakes.

It was my first visit to Xin Fu, but Beverly had lunched there with friends on a couple of occasions and was high on the place. I couldn’t disagree, and we’ve put it on our list of places to go when we want decent Asian food that requires no reservation or significant travel.

Shu Chen, our server, was a friendly soul who took good care of us and impressed us with how quickly our food appeared. Our tab, minus the cost of the beer and sake, was $47.96 with tax and tip. That was for soup, two appetizers and two entrées.

I found the portion sizes just right — not enormous but not scant. Even so we brought two cartons of food home with us.

Hold the ‘acocado’

Xin Fu is relatively new and its menu seems to have been contrived hastily, judging by the typos here and there. You can order steak and scallops in a “sizzling hot poet,” and their “Pheonix” roll comes with “acocado.” The good news is the food’s a lot better than the spelling.

You can find sushi and sashimi dishes, a variety of rolls including chef’s specials like the Xin Fu Roll — shrimp tempura and cucumber inside and eel and avocado on top — and the Superman Roll, which is salmon, egg and cucumber with caviar outside.

The Japanese menu, which is more extensive than the Chinese, offers a variety of Teriyaki dishes, along with vegetable, chicken and shrimp tempura. You can also get udon and soba noodle dishes, and for $22 a bento box meal that comes with soup, salad and rice.

Chinese offerings include a Crispy Roast Duck for $14, half a duck marinated and then deep fried and served with mixed vegetables in a brown sauce. Fried rice, lo mein and chow mein dishes are available, along with a number of chef’s specialties like Crispy Shredded Beef in Spicy Sauce ($12).

If you’re watching your weight, there’s a section of the menu featuring steamed mixed vegetables with tofu, chicken and shrimp, among other choices.

NAPKIN NOTES

I don’t think anyone believes most of the dishes served at Chinese-American or Japanese-American restaurants are typical of real ethnic cuisine. The food they serve is “Americanized.”

Thus, I was only mildly surprised to discover that, along with the chicken wings and the barbecued spare ribs, you can get something called “cheese wontons” at Xin Fu. They’re wonton dough stuffed with cream cheese and then deep-fried, just as they do in Beijing.

 

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