Since opening Thanksgiving weekend, Auspicious, the modern Chinese BYO tucked behind McCloskey’s on Cricket Avenue in Ardmore, has elicited plenty of online banter. Early skeptics panned the portions—the rice taking the biggest hit—and the temperamental service.
Rest assured there’s plenty of brown and white rice to go around at Auspicious, and at least during my initial visit, the staff was suitably convivial and helpful. I joined bloggers in digging the contemporary décor, convenient and ample parking, family-friendly vibe, late kitchen hours (until 11 p.m. on weekends), and lighter fare (salads, wraps, even veggie burgers).
Freshness and adept preparation buoyed each dish, but flavor nuances were a little meek. Exceptions were the appetizer of tender, sweet stir-fried mussels dolled up with a zesty jalapeño-and-garlic black bean sauce, and a colorful, piquant combination of mangoes, chicken and bell peppers. A generous side of pudding-soft eggplant chunks supposedly “in a fiery sauce” arrived heat free, despite being ordered “extra spicy.” Overcooking you can’t change, but a little chili oil goes a long way.
My order of Sizzling Scallops bordered on volcanic, forcing me to jump back in my seat for fear of being scalded. Well cooked and brazenly seasoned with ground black pepper, they eclipsed the accompanying vegetables and sauce. The citrus soy Wu Tangerine Beef delivered a lip-smacking combination of sweet-and-sour, batter-coated, medium-rare sirloin.
For dessert, the phyllo-encased chocolate with caramel dipping sauce and a side of granola was a gratifying—and unexpected—treat.
11 Cricket Ave., Ardmore; (610) 642-1858, mastersofkungfood.com.
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