TASTE & TELL - Great Chow entryway leads to flavorful Asian delights By MIMI CLAFFEY For The Patriot Ledger
When the entrance to a new restaurant is tastefully designed with sophisticated décor suitable to the style of food they are serving, you know the owners have made an effort to please. That effort will probably extend to the quality of the food as well, and it just makes you want to go in. At the new Great Chow in Abington, everything from the fountain-lined handicapped ramp to the Asian-style landscaping in the entrance foyer was classy and welcoming. There was a lovely blend of Japanese and Chinese architectural elements that reflected the style of food here.
When we came in, we hadn’t known there was a buffet, nor did we know that your seating depended on your answer. ‘‘No, thank you, we’ll dine from the regular menu’’ will lead you to a table in the retreat-like setting of a peaceful dining room lined with plants and water features. ‘‘Yes, please, we’ll have the buffet’’ will lead you to a cafeteria-style dining area lined with tables of metal warming trays, clanging utensils, and terrible acoustics. It was so loud that we had to ask our server to repeat herself several times. Eventually, we were able to adjust to the noise level.
The buffet is served Monday through Saturday from opening until 3 p.m. and is $8.95; but kids under 5 eat free, children under 12 are $4.95, and seniors $7.95. That price gets you the the sushi bar and appetizer table, and at the Japanese grill you have a choice of Teppanyaki steak, shrimp or chicken sautéed with mushrooms for your main course. Nana and Brian opted for the buffet. Nana chose the shrimp main course, and Brian went with the Teppanyaki beef. The chefs chopped, flipped and grilled as we watched, and within minutes generous portions were plated and served. The beef was tender and flavorful, and the shrimp was crispy and light.
The appetizer bar was filled with many standard Chinese favorites: chicken wings and fingers, pork fried rice, boneless spare ribs, egg rolls, and crab Rangoon, but also offered main dishes of egg foo yong, chicken chow mein, tofu with broccoli, and Szechuan-style chicken and vegetables. Compared with the freshness of the food at the sushi bar and at the Japanese grill, these items suffered from the fate of having sat in their warming trays, the vegetables becoming a tad soggy, the edges of some appetizers a bit dried out, and most of the food less hot and fresh. But that is to be expected at any buffet.
I had to order something from the main menu to test the kitchen, so I opted for the Dragon and Phoenix ($12.95). The presentation of this dish was spectacular: a large square plate with a garnish of artfully carved and colorful raw veggies. The chicken and shrimp sautéed with fresh Chinese vegetables was hot and fresh, and there was plenty of it. The sauce was light but had a lingering flavor with a subtle heat that perfectly complemented the the chicken and shrimp. The kitchen passed the test, and I was delighted with my meal.
The regular menu was similar to the original Great Chow in Wollaston, with many of the standard dishes done with their trademark Great Chow flair. The daily buffet is also offered as a brunch on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. with additional items and at a different price. The buffet is $14.95, but kids under 12 are $7.50, seniors $12.95, and kids under 5 still eat for free.
Many Asian cultures have traditions based on wisdom and fortune, and Great Chow in Abington has thoughtfully reflected that by placing a wishing well outside the door. Our bellies full and our spirits warmed from a delicious meal on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we tossed in our c
oins and silently made our wishes. Brian and I smiled at each other, knowing we wished for what we always wish for: good health and happiness for our family, and the continued success of a long and happy marriage. Nana raised her hands triumphantly and said out loud, ‘‘Let’s go, Red Sox!’
Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Wednesday, October 10, 2007