Bistro is Chinese, kosher and good

Dietary laws rule at David Chu's

August 08, 2002|By Robin Tunnicliff Reid | Robin Tunnicliff Reid,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

David Chu's China Bistro looks like a typical Chinese restaurant. The waiters are Asian. The menu lists all the usual suspects: egg foo young, a pu pu platter, kung pao chicken and Peking duck. Chopsticks and steaming pots of tea deck the tables.

But look again. A bearded man in a yarmulke walks in and out of the kitchen. There's a small sink in the foyer between the restrooms. No shellfish or pork is on the menu. And on a recent night, all beef dishes had to be off the tables before sundown.

David Chu's is a kosher Chinese restaurant. The guy in the yarmulke is a mashgiach. He ensures that all the food is prepared in kosher fashion (no pork, no shellfish, no dairy products). Diners who need to wash their hands after praying and before eating can use the little sink in the foyer.

On the night we went, there was feverish snatching of beef off the tables because of Tisha B'av, a 10-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem long ago. After sundown, eating meat is not permitted.

Because the mashgiach is in charge in the kitchen, you can assume David Chu's food is properly kosher. (Remember those old Hebrew National ads about answering to a higher authority?) Well, the food is also just plain good on the taste buds, too.

We found plenty of white-meat chicken in the spring roll. The shredded cabbage and carrots folded into the vegetable egg rolls were remarkably fresh. The wrappers on rolls were crisp, with nary a trace of grease.

In a hefty entree of chicken with eggplant, sugar overwhelmed whatever garlic was in the creamy garlic sauce. But a judicious blob of jasmine-scented rice went a long way in absorbing the excess sauce, allowing us to savor the taste of sliced small eggplants and chicken (white meat, again). The beef in the beef with broccoli was far leaner than the usual stuff one gets elsewhere; the broccoli retained some bright green color and crunch.

Our favorite entree was also the heftiest: four scallion pancakes wrapped around string beans (cooked perfectly, as were the vegetables we had in the other dishes). The slightly sweet pancake batter blended quite well with the strong, small dose of minced scallions, and crunchy beans gave the whole mixture some texture.

I never expect much in the way of dessert choices from a Chinese restaurant beyond lychee nut ice cream and maybe some sliced fruit. Even after learning that David Chu's had tiramisu and chocolate mousse, I still didn't have high hopes. Both had to be made in the kosher manner without dairy products, and it was tough to imagine how that could be done well.

As it turned out, both deserved four stars. The prettily arranged tiramisu alternately - and deliciously - tasted of coffee, eggnog and light whipped cream. The mousse was very light, and the rich, dark shade of brown was indicative of the bittersweet chocolate taste.

David Chu's China Bistro

Where: 7105 Reisterstown Road

Open: For lunch and dinner Sunday through Friday

Prices: Appetizers $1.95 to $7.95; entrees $5.95 to $15.95

Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V

Call: 410-602-5008

Food: * * *

Service: * * *

Atmosphere: * * 1/2

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.