After months of driving IH 10 past the construction site of what is supposed to be upscale mandarin cuisine, the long awaited Wángcháo restaurant opened this past week in San Antonio, Texas.
Wángcháo promises a marriage of Mandarin and Hunan cuisines, and it mostly succeeds. With the restaurant being newly opened, I will just touch on the food aspect as they try to settle in and work out the kinks. I will not go into detail about lack of knowledge on specifics of the menu or on products or forgetting to bring certain dishes or items. I will write just on the food.
John and I went specifically for appetizers. To me, if you can create a perfect, flavor-impacted bite then the main entrees should be a shoo-in.
We ordered four appetizers.
Duck Crispy Roll: It is a slow cooked duck, rolled, and fried to a nice crisp. The duck was perfectly cooked and the vegetable blend they used to accompany the duck was well-suited and colorful. It was served with a dipping sauce that I thought was too cloying and took away from the roll.
Fried Calamari: It is a steak calamari that is lightly battered. The menu said with spring onions, red pepper, garlic chili sauce. I did not taste the seasonings on the calamari. Though it was perfectly cooked, still, if you say “with…” you should be able taste at least a hint of the seasonings. I will get to what I thought of the sauces in a minute, but the garlic chili sauce did not come with the appetizer. We had to wait a while for the sauces and the food started to get cold.
Crab Cheese Puffs: The crab cheese puffs were crispy on the outside with the creaminess of the double cheese on the inside. No skimping on the filling either. Those bellies of the wonton wrappers were full of this delicious crab spread.
Before I state my favorite of the appetizers I want to write about the sauces. I was disappointed in them. Hunan cuisine is noted for its hot spicy flavor, vibrant color, and aroma. I did not get these in the three signature Wángcháo’s sauces. However, I did enjoy the house-made soy sauce with Serrano peppers. It was flavorful and complimented the dishes. Another downer is Wángcháo does not carry hot mustard. Some dishes just call out for that condiment, like the crab puff where you just want to add a little kick (because I wasn’t getting it from the other sauces) against the dense creaminess of the stuffing. Soy sauce was good with it but that type of sauce does not cling to the fried dough. I asked the server and she stated she gets asked about every other customer for mustard. Might need to rethink not having it available. Just saying.
Wángcháo Signature Spare Ribs: Oh my those little riblets were good. The ribs were tender, had a great char on them and that barbeque sauce was exquisite. The dark sauce had just the right amount of sweet and tang. Yum!
All in all for the opening week I would say it was a success. The barbeque sauce was delectable as was the soy sauce. The only downers were the three signature sauces and lack of seasoning on the calamari. The food was hot and crispy where it needed to be and was well crafted.
John and I will definitely go to try their main entrees soon.
Until next time, happy creating.