by Dorothy Cascerceri
I have a friend who is hypersensitive to texture.
We're not talking scratchy wool, smooth silk and prickly porcupine.
We're talking food. Texture of food.
Jello is too slimy. Peanut Butter is too sticky. You get the idea.
So I thought about this friend when I dined at Philippe on 60th street and Madison Avenue the other night, a restaurant opened by Philippe Chow, veteran chef of the famous Mr. Chow's.
The food was incredible....sure beats the Chinese restaurant on my block that always delivers half-cold General Tso's chicken with plastic silverware.
But i thought about this friend because the texture was switched around on two dishes.
Instead of squishy, soft seaweed salad, we enjoyed crunchy seaweed salad...a very nice change of pace, but definitely something my friend would have complained about.
Instead of tough, difficult-to-chew, tastes-like-leather chicken satay that I've had every other time I've ordered it, we received the softest, butteriest, melt-in-your-mouth order that convinced me I could ask the waiter for four more and be perfectly content not trying anything else on the menu.
I tried, but friends I was dining with insisted I sample more.
So we continued with the squab with lettuce wraps, which I was told was "like chicken" by my friend. A google search later revealed it was PIGEON! I wasn't particularly bothered though. It was chopped up with vegetables in a delicious plum sauce, and the act of actually scooping spoonfuls into pieces of lettuce and wrapping them gave the very nice, very expensive, very classy restaurant an informal feel.
We then devoured Jade Dumplings, which were filled with shrimp and waterchestnuts, followed by the velvet chicken (my friend would like this texture...who doesn't love the feel of velvet?), which was chopped with vegetables in a spicy sauce, followed by the Crispy Beef.
Now I am NEVER one to order a beef entree in a chinese restaurant, whether I'm dining in, taking out or having it delivered. Something about beef and Chinese food has always given me the creeps.
But this beef was the best crispy beef I had ever eaten. If I could have unlimited helpings of Philippe's crispy beef and chicken satay in the chef's special cream sauce, I'd have my dinner planned for the next 30 and a half years of my life.
Philippe has pretty much ruined the tried and true Chinese restaurants in my neighborhood that I usually order from. At least for now, that is.