After learning about hidden gems like Peking Quick One, China Star and Wok and Roll, Alli and I are always hoping to discover the next good Chinese restaurant that offers some version of a ‘homestyle’ menu. We aren’t looking for the best sweet and sour chicken or beef with broccoli, instead we want soup dumplings and spicy cabbage. Alli was very excited after reading Andrew Galarneau’s blog post about Miss Hot Cafe last week and we decided to make a lunch visit on Saturday. The Amherst restaurant is in a small plaza on Sheridan Dr. next to the Spice Bazaar, across the street from Taisho Bistro and within sight of Gin Gin. The outside is not appealing whatsoever and the name, while interesting, doesn’t really convey what exactly is on their menu.
We were greeted with a dry erase board of Chef Specials that were written in Chinese, which was a definitely a good sign. We walked into the dining room and were seated right away, looking around it was obvious that Alli and I were the only people having a conversation in English (another great sign). The restaurants menu (picture gallery below) is written in both Chinese and English, so there is no need to ask for any special menus. While they of course have the standard Americanized Chinese dishes, many of there later pages (in gallery) are focused on more authentic dishes. We had a couple suggestions already from Andrew’s blog post and we tried to focus on menu items that we haven’t seen before.
We ordered their Shanghai Dumplings ($2.99) because we are suckers for soup dumplings. Unfortunately, Miss Hot Cafe’s definitely didn’t compare to the superior version found at Wok and Roll (the only other place we know of in Buffalo that has the soup-filled dumplings we crave). These particular dumplings barely have any actual broth, were stuck to the wax paper underneath and weren’t served with the typical ginger vinegar dipping sauce. They still had a nice pork flavor and were very cheap, but if I’m in the mood for soup dumplings, I’ll drive a couple miles more down Sheridan (this isn’t to say Wok and Roll’s version is amazing, but its the best Buffalo has to offer for now). We also ordered their Cold Spicy Cabbage (~$5) which turned out to be our favorite dish of the meal. The fermented shredded cabbage was covered in pepper flakes and soaked in a sweet vinegar. The dish was essentially a less aggressive kimchi; the heat was definitely prominent but not over powering and allowed the sweet/spicy flavor to come through nicely. The serving size was also very large and we ended up taking half of the bowl home for leftovers and somehow the cabbage got even better as it sat in our fridge overnight. As Andrew put it in a twitter conversation with Alli, it was “cool, crunchy, spicy, sweet all at once.” Exactly.
Alli and I also split the Double Sauteed Pork ($10.95) entree. Even though the dish had the spicy warning on the menu, our plate had barely any heat at all. The thin slices of pork were tender and the fermented black beans added a nice touch, but I wasn’t as impressed with it as I was with the version we tried at Peking Quick One last year. Alli enjoyed it much more than I did, but she also does not like her dishes as spicy as I do. We also ordered two ‘desserts’ without really knowing it, their Nai Huang Buns ($2.75) and Rice Dumpling in Rice Wine Soup ($2.50, small). It wasn’t until we started to eat both dishes and noticed how sweet they were. We set them aside and decided to finish them last. We probably should have done some googling before we ordered.
The Nai Huang Buns have the fluffy doughy texture that you’d find with a Momofuku Pork Bun, except wrapped around a small bit of custard. The custard inside didn’t remain thick and creamy but instead took the texture of the chewy bun. Alli wasn’t a big fan of the dish but they reminded me of a fresh donut and were quiet delicious. The Rice Dumpling in Rice Wine Soup is probably not a traditional dessert, but the ‘soup’ part was incredibly sweet and had the consistency of a syrup. The actual rice dumplings didn’t have much of a flavor and had the texture of chewing gum. It was a really weird dish and I’m not sure why I kept eating it or if I even liked it or not. Either way, part of me is glad I tried it at least once.
Our bill ended up being less then $23 for a good amount of food and during their Grand Opening (still currently going on, according to their website) the restaurant is giving a 10% off discount. The restaurant has just opened and hopefully in the coming weeks and months they’ll continue to tweak some of the dishes. The menu definitely has enough interesting options that we’d love to go back and try more, especially after watching every table around us order a claypot special. Sure some of the dishes might have better versions elsewhere, but we had a good enough meal that we’d definitely recommend it.
Menu Photo Gallery: