Food Porn: China Star

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Right around the time we found out about Peking Quick One’s ‘Homestyle Menu’, I heard about China Star and their Szechuan menu through a combination of Buffalo Spree, Andrew Galarneau and Nickel City Smokers (some of the best food pics you’ll find locally). When we visited China Star on a Friday night, it wasn’t exactly a planned trip. We were in the area doing some holiday shopping and I somehow convinced Alli that it had the potential to be another awesome Chinese meal.

The restaurant is located in the Chuck E Cheese plaza right off the 290 and doesn’t exactly look that great from the outside. The inside is definitely nicer than Peking and you’ll have much more space to sit and eat. Just like Peking, when we walked into the restaurant we noticed that most of the diners appeared to be international students from UB speaking a variety of languages.

Quick Info:

  • Restaurant Type: Casual, Takeout
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Location: Amherst
  • Prices: Entrees $10-17

You don’t have to ask or try to find any special menu, their main menu contains the normal boring Chinese food (Sweet and Sour Chicken, etc) but it also has a Sichuan section that has some different and tasty items. The most notable characteristic about Sichuan/Szechuan cuisine is its very strong heat. We’re not talking ‘lets get suicidal wings’….it’s hot but more of a ‘my entire tongue feels like its vibrating/numb’-hot. We ordered mostly off their Sichuan menu and a small appetizer off their “Cold Delicacies” menu. After getting disappointing news that they had just ran out of Pork Soup Dumplings, we ordered their Wonton with Red Chili sauce ($4, pictured below). The wonton’s themselves were pretty good and even though on the ‘Cold’ menu, were warm. They were sitting in a bowl of red chili sauce, which was incredibly spicy and was similar to chili oil that we’d buy at Wegmans in the Chinese cooking aisle. The wontons that were on the top of the pile that only had a small amount of oil were pretty enjoyable, but the ones on the bottom (that were almost completely coated) were a bit of a challenge. I’m not sure what we were expecting, the actual wonton was tasty and adding just a small amount of oil gave a nice spicy flavor but I don’t think we’d order it again. It almost put Alli out of commission from the start.

Chong Qing Spicy Chicken

Wonton with Red Chili Sauce

I decided to take on this challenge head on and ordered their Chong Qin Spicy Chicken ($13, pictured top) which had three peppers next to it on the menu, indicating it was one of the hotter dishes on the menu. They weren’t kidding, and the concerned look on our waitress’ face when we ordered was understandable. The dish was coated in peppers and the smell emitting from the plate was clearing my sinuses by itself. After a couple bites my tongue started to become numb, but prior to the numbness I was really enjoying the taste of the chicken on the plate. The large quantity of peppers and garlic gave the dish a really strong flavor. The actually plate was essentially just a pile of chicken and peppers (which are basically inedible to the normal diner). The chicken was fried and had a crunchy outside but a chewy/puffy inside. I actually thought the texture was very similar to fried tofu rather then chicken. I managed to get about half way through the meal (with the help of water and rice) and finished the leftovers the next day.

Alli ordered their version Double Cooked Pork ($10, gallery) to compare with what we had at Peking a couple weeks prior. The plate itself definitely didn’t have as much pork as Peking’s but the pork in China Star’s dish was much fattier and more tender. The dish wasn’t that spicy but had a much higher veggie to meat ratio then our fantastic pile of pork we had at Peking, and much less sauce/oil on the dish.

There’s still a lot on the China Star menu that I would really like to go back and try. If their Soup Dumplings are legit then it could be a game changer and an answer to Alli’s prayers. I’d still like to try the sauteed Crab or Pork Intestine and make my way down the rest of the Sichuan menu. However, with all of the rave reviews I’ve been reading for Taisho Bistro, it seems like we have our next Asian culinary adventure in the North-towns already planned.

Photo Gallery:

China Star on Urbanspoon

One thought on “Food Porn: China Star

  1. Jessica

    Taisho is great! The Kimchi Udon is fantastic! :)

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