I have been in the mood to clear some long time dwellers from my “list,” which is probably a better, slightly healthier goal than the recent fried chicken fixation. I probably should have organized my list by date so I knew which ones had been on there the longest, but it is pretty haphazardly organized. So Sesame has been on there quite a long time I know, and the other day I was running around, and it was the place that popped to mind, so I stopped in.
It is yet another one of those strip mall places, the décor to this one is somewhat minimal, but it overall seemed clean, and my server was prompt in helping me. I ordered the chicken in hot garlic sauce lunch special ($4.50) with hot and sour soup (I know wibia swears by this soup so I thought I would try it). The lunch also comes with an egg roll and fried rice (which I switched to steamed, because that’s just me).
My server fairly immediately brought out my soup as well as some crunchy fried wonton crisps. I have to say, this was probably the best hot and sour soup I have had outside of San Francisco. It was probably more hot than sour, but not so hot that it detracted. It had lots of the classic ingredients, bits of pork, egg, and my favorite, a fair amount of sliced tofu. I can’t remember the last time I was at a restaurant that served the crispy wonton crisps, but they were nice to dip in the soup or even crumble up in there to give it a little more texture. But all in all, I can see how this soup could be a little addicting. The broth is full bodied and on the darker side. The heat did build a bit without me really noticing it, and by the time I finished it and started my entrée, for a few minutes I was having a hard time getting the flavor of the chicken.
After a few sips of water and a few minutes, the heat dissipated and I could taste my entrée. The first thing I noticed was that there was a ton of food for the money—this lunch entrée was easily as large as many dinner entrées from other places, and it was mostly all meat—there was also some thin lengths of celery stir fried in as well. The chicken itself was thinly sliced, all white meat and was quite tender, and not at all fatty. My problem with it was it tasted more sweet than garlicky, and honestly, I prefer the garlic taste. It was almost like a very light sweet and sour sauce. I added a fair amount of soy sauce and that helped a bit. I have since been told by others that sometimes this dish is really garlicky, and sometimes a bit sweet. I guess it just depends on who is cooking. Although I would love to taste the garlicky version, I would probably not chance it next time and get something different.
The egg roll was only average to my mind; it was of the fat variety, stuffed with lots of shredded cabbage and carrots. I really only ate one bite, because I preferred the other things more. But it is certainly generous in size. Seriously, if you ate the entire meal, you would be quite full.
But for the money, this place is certainly worth a repeat trip. Honestly, I could have probably made this dish last for at least two meals. Because I do want to go back, and I do want to try something else, you know what I want to know next. Have you been? And if so, what’s your favorite dish?
Sesame Chinese Restaurant
1413 West 86th Street