In Part I of this post, we made our way to Trieu Chau, and sat, only to open the menu, and discover that most of it was not in English (there was a handwritten section with stuff like pork fried rice). So as the Missus tried to decipher the Chinese portion of the menu, and little plate of Youtiao(Fried Dough, "Crullers") found it's way to our table.
These were cold and dense, not crunchy and light; a very inauspicious start. At this point, the Missus had gotten through much of the menu, but still could not figure out what some of the dishes were. This is when our intrepid "guide" Kathy appeared. She patiently explained that the dishes we were having problems with were dishes with specific types of noodles. She started in English, went to Cantonese, and finally was able to explain some of the dishes to the Missus in Mandarin. At one point, she thought that the Missus was Laotian, so she started speaking in what I think was Lao. Talk about a humbling experience, I barely speak one language well (that would be English), and Kathy just jumps from language to language without hesitation. Needless to say, we were impressed. Finally, the Missus decided to go the "small plates" route, instead of ordering noodle soup and ordered a few dishes that She had already picked out, and Kathy helped fill out the menu.
First up was the Missus selected the Beef Stew:
The Missus picked this out, because she knew how much I enjoy a good Beef Stew. This was almost a hybrid Chinese - Vietnamese style Beef Stew. Beef colored by annatto oil, nice hints of anise, cinnamon, and garlic. The meat was pretty tender, and the fat content was pretty low. What I really enjoyed about this dish, was the large amount of buttery, melt in your mouth tendon, cooked to perfection. Also, the usual layer of oil coating the top of the sauce, was minimized. An average dish, brought up to good by the delici-yoso tendon.
The Missus also selected the Soy Sauce Duck:
Nice, meaty and tender, soy sauce flavored duck leg, served with pickled vegetables. What made this dish work was that the salty duck was tempered by the pickled vegetables and pickle "juice."
Kathy had selected the rice noodle with seafood for us:
I could smell the fragrance of this dish as it was cooking; thinking to myself; "that must be for us...." Wide rice noodles, egg, bok choy, and seafood, in a brown sauce. First off the shrimp were over-cooked and tough, and the squid was like rubber. The sauce though a tad on the sweet side had quite a bit of garlic which balanced it out a bit. The interesting thing was that I could taste a hint of a slightly smokey flavor in the noodles; I think there was a bit of Wok-hey going on.
Strangely, Kathy also ordered Lup Cheong(Chinese Sausage) and Shrimp Fried Rice for us. I think she was hedging her bets a little, just in case we didn't care for anything else we ordered.
This was the weakest dish of the meal. Again the shrimp were over-cooked, and some of the Lup Cheong were charred, and nothing about the dish stood out. As we were eating, the Missus, said "didn't you make this last night." I had indeed made fried rice with leftovers the night before, and this was no better then what I had thrown together at home. But still, nothing terrible about the dish.
All told the "damage" was $20, for 4 dishes(we had the leftovers for dinner) and tea, not bad at all! The service was very efficient, and Kathy was very patient and helpful. While the Missus went to the Ladies Room, I chatted briefly with Kathy, who recommended the Lemongrass Chicken, and a few other dishes for our next visit. Though I'm sorely tempted to try some of the Beef Stew Noodle Soups......
Trieu Chau Restaurant
4653 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92105