Dear Janice: Many years ago we found a fantastic Chinese restaurant called Lee Chu’s, which then closed. Since that time, we’ve been searching for a Chinese restaurant that compares, with no luck to date. Do you have any suggestions?
A: I feel your pain, Anonymous. Losing a beloved restaurant is a little like losing a dear friend – I’ve had the experience many times so I truly understand.
But think of it as an opportunity. There are a host of fine Chinese/Asian dining places on the Niagara Frontier. Here are three you might try:
My first recommendation is in Fort Erie – and I fully understand that this location can present problems. There is The Bridge, with its lines and the need for necessary documentation. But, if you can manage it, Ming Teh, 126 Niagara Blvd., is worth the trip.
Though the place has been sold to another family member in recent years, it has an impressive and lengthy history. When the movie “The Natural” was filmed in Western New York years ago, cast members visited the place constantly, some describing the cuisine as “world class.”
The surroundings are interesting. A large window at the rear overlooks the swift-flowing Niagara River; the walls are decorated with the former owner’s artwork. And the menu is varied, with traditional Cantonese favorites like dumplings, Hot and Sour Soup, Moo Shu Pork and Pickled Cabbage Soup (a personal favorite), along with Steamed Fish with ginger and green onions (ditto). Two new suggestions are Sizzling Beef with onion and red pepper in sweet and sour sauce and Stir Fried Bean Curd with Chinese mushrooms in a sauce of garlic, chili peppers and minced pork.
Then there is Golden Duck, 1840 Maple Road, Amherst. The atmosphere is pretty basic, with several busy banquet rooms to the rear, often used by the Chinese/American community. If you’re into Congee (a thin rice porridge), you can get it here. Standard favorite items are plentiful and well-prepared. Also on the menu: the likes of Taro with Salty Duck in Casserole and Calamari with Black Bean Sauce.
I’m also including Red Pepper, 3910 Maple Road, Amherst, across from Boulevard Mall, even though it’s a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant, as many Asian dining places are these days. Red Pepper is comfortable, run by friendly people and features old-time favorites like Chow Mein and Fried Rice.
Some house specialties are Sesame Shrimp and (in season) Peashoots with chicken or beef.
Try a Vietnamese dish while you’re there. Vietnamese Pancake with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts makes a fine lunch.
Send your questions and comments about dining out to Janice Okun at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will respond in this column, which appears every Wednesday in the Taste section of The Buffalo News.