After having a friend tell me that he really liked Tiger Lily, and since I haven’t been back since my first visit shortly after they opened, I met my friend wibia there for a quick lunch the other day. My friend who had recommended I go back told me that he really liked the hot and sour soup so I ordered that to start ($2.50). It was very good. It was very full of all the typical hot and sour ingredients (bamboo shoots, mushrooms and lots of tofu). I liked that the veggies were still fairly crisp, but not too crisp and I loved all the tofu in it. It also had a decent amount of acidity from the vinegar (sour) and just enough of the spiciness (hot). Our only complaint (we both had the same soup) is that it wasn’t very hot temperature-wise. Not cold or anything, just not hot.
So after ordering what I wanted, which was a noodle dish, our (very pleasant) server came back to tell me they were out of it. I went with garlic chicken ($6.50), which is sort of a standby dish for me at Chinese places. I am bummed I didn’t get to try the noodle dish because it sounded more interesting, and honestly, I wasn’t very impressed with the chicken. It was slices of white meat chicken with water chestnuts and mushrooms in a garlic sauce. One of the things I didn’t like about either of our dishes was that there was very little of the “sauce” other than what was directly on the meat. There was steamed rice with it, and there wasn’t enough of the flavor/sauce to make it onto the rice. The chicken was also a bit dry on the inside as well and the garlic sauce a little bland. Maybe if they gave a bit more of it.
Wibia had the pork bulgogi and I thought it suffered many of the same problems—it was dry and had little “sauce” to it… in other words, just not a lot of flavor. I do appreciate the crisp little egg roll and crab rangoon they give you with your lunch. I liked the egg roll because it was nice and crispy (it is on the small side) and not overly filled with stuff. The crab Rangoon was fine, but I have rarely met one that got me excited (not my favorite thing—cream cheese just doesn’t belong many places for me besides spread on a bagel).
Anyway, it was fine, and I liked the soup, but I wish I could have tried the noodles. So far none of the rice dishes have made me overly interested in returning and I have a feeling it may be awhile again before I do. When this place first opened, there was a lot of buzz about it, but less so as of late. Are there still some of you that are regulars? Love to hear what you think.
Tiger Lily Restaurant
1146 West 86th Street
(they’re on facebook)