Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Taste test: Fantasy Eatery

Thanks to some Chowhounds who responded to my request for a Chinese restaurant my picky teenagers might like, we tried Fantasy Eatery in the Great Mall of China, and had one of the more successful family dinners we've had in a while. Of course, standards are set kind of low in my family, where one child eats only pasta, cheese and quesadillas, and dinners out usually consist of salt shaker fights at Zankou Chicken. So we approached the empty Fantasy Eatery, which is apparently a branch of a Vancouver and Toronto chain, with a bit of trepidation. There was one poking- chopsticks-up-the-nose incident, but otherwise, Chinese soap operas on the TVs managed to occupy the ever-squabbling siblings. The decor is rather sparkly, with an unused white grand piano, various beaded curtains and random decorations of paper Easter chicks -- on Thanksgiving weekend. The vast menu has plenty of typos to amuse the kids (fired rice and the like). They skipped right over the frog and "lam" and ordered up sweet and sour pork chops, chicken fried rice and chicken and noodles. The adults ordered scallops in XO sauce with mushrooms and peapods (above left) in the hopes of finding a dish with a bit more flavor. But we actually liked all the dishes -- chicken and noodles featured wide homemade tasting noodles in a mild sauce with Chinese broccoli on the side, chicken fried rice wasn't on the menu but they obligingly made us a competent version, and Sam enjoyed the large pieces of fried pork in a tangy, not-too-sweet and sour sauce (below left). The scallops were a bit greasy, but I liked how the large, meaty slices of mushroom mimicked the jumbo scallop slices. By the time we left, the room was full of large Chinese families enjoying intriguing-looking platters. So I'd definitely recommend this place to anyone looking for a mix of milder and more unusual dishes in a non-funky atmosphere that welcomes families.
Fantasy Eatery
140 W. Valley Blvd. #212
San Gabriel

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