Triangle Dining: China Palace

May 8, 2008

China Palace Restaurant
5210 Garrett Rd, Durham NC
(919) 493-3088

While the Triangle area seems to have an abundance of delicious ethnic cuisine, it appears to be lacking in authentic Chinese restaurants. I had pretty much given up on the idea of finding good Chinese food until a Google search revealed some positive blog posts about China Palace, a small Cantonese/Sichuan/Hunan restaurant in Durham. I like this place so much, that I’ve already been to it twice and its already become my “go to” local Chinese. The portions are big, so expect leftovers for lunch the next day.

China Palace looks like a dinky, run of the mill Chinese Restaurant. Don’t let this distract you, go right in.

On a busy night, don’t be surprised if you have to wait 15-20 minutes for a table. This place is real popular with the locals.

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Remembering China 46: “House Special” Spicy Capsicum Saute

May 4, 2008

When a favorite restaurant dies, you undergo a bereavement process as a former patron. You try to replace it with another one, usually failing to do so. Then occasionally, you come across a dish at another place that tastes familiar, but doesn’t -quite- get there. You see glimmerings of the original, enough to make you do a double take, but then you come to your senses and again realize you are someplace else. Its like walking down the street and seeing someone who resembles another person who has been dead for years, or playing with another person’s pet that looks remarkably similar to one of yours which passed away. You tear up a bit, think about the good times, and then move on.

Such as it is with my favorite Chinese restaurant, China 46, which closed down in September of 2007. I haven’t taken this loss particularly well, as there were a lot of dishes that were prepared there that I cannot get at any other Shanghai/Sichuan restaurant I’ve been to, and this includes the very good local newcomers such as Chengdu 1 and Petite Soochow, which I recommend heartily. I thought I had moved on until I had this dish recently at China Palace restaurant, a small authentic Chinese place in Durham, North Carolina:

Spicy Capsicum Pepper Saute with Pressed Tofu, from China Palace restaurant in Durham, NC.

This dish closely resembles another dish at China 46 restaurant, which was called “House Special Saute” and consisted of ground pork with finely chopped Chinese green peppers and pressed tofu, in a spicy Sichuan hot bean sauce. The China Palace version here is excellent, using julienne pressed tofu and shredded pork, but it is not the same — the China 46 one was drier and less saucy and a much finer dice.

Once I had this dish, I was committed to faithfully replicating the China 46 version, at least as close as to it I could recall. I don’t have original photos of the dish I am trying to replicate, so I am just going from memory here.

Spicy Sichuan Capsicum Saute, fondly remembered and re-created from the late China 46 restaurant in Ridgefield Park, NJ.

Re-Create this fantastic Sichuan dish in your own home. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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