630 Skylard Road
Somewhere, likely in a massive underground compound, there must be a place where all the hot and sour, wonton, and egg drop soups served in takeout Chinese restaurants are made. Shipped, one suspects, in large drums, these impersonations of soup find their way from the centralized soup plant to hapless diners throughout the country.
Such is the case at Hopsing’s, the Quadrangle Shopping Center’s replacement for the deceased Ocean Garden. While I had hoped Hopsing’s would up the ante for takeout Chinese food in the city, I am here to tell you that they are missing the boat.
First, the good news — Hopsing’s does some things fairly well. On the expansive menu, which sacrifices some Chinese options in favor of adding sushi and other Asian dishes, red Thai curry (chicken, $8.50) was a nice example of the dish. Simple, with peppers and snow peas, yet with no detectable levels of basil or kaffir lime, it was OK. But it started that niggling little thought that one thing was missing that really held it back.
Otherwise entirely standard egg drop soup came without the crispy fried wonton strips that make the dish (for me, anyway). A takeout order came with 14 soy packets, 16 duck sauce packets, and only one Chinese mustard (an accomplice’s favorite). “The Mongolian” (chicken, $8.50) was missing the listed “red peppers” on the menu. The duck salad ($7.95) bore not a single promised cashew. The sweet and sour chicken (pint, $5.50) consisted solely of chicken — no peppers, no onions, no tomatoes — and very tiny bits of fried chicken at that. One dining companion remarked that she thought they might have scraped the bottom of the fryer to obtain such small bits of the bird. The pad Thai (chicken, $8.50) was a bland mass of texture-free noodles, which prompted thoughts of the seasoning packet of store-bought ramen noodles. A takeout order promised in 15 minutes took 40, in an empty restaurant.
On my first visit, I wanted Moo Shu Pork (a guilty pleasure). Alas. No pork on the menu. Beef, then. “No Moo Shu Beef” said the mirthless man behind the counter. “Chicken?” I countered. “No. We have no pancakes for Moo Shu at all.” My thoughts leapt to the three Asian grocery stores within a ten-minute drive, but I just let it go. On my second visit, another attempt to order a Moo Shu dish brought no more luck — “Moo Shu beef, please.”
Silence. “Uhh, we don’t serve Moo Shu.”
“Your menu says you do.”
“Uhh, yeah, but does that menu say ‘Hopsing’s’ on it?”
“Oh. Well, we don’t serve Moo Shu.”
Not all is lost, though. The egg roll ($1.20) and spring roll ($1.20) were dependable, and the potstickers ($5.95 for eight) were good. Thai grilled chicken salad ($5.95) was fair, with a sweet dressing that provided no hint of the promised chilis, and sloppily-prepped vegetables; likewise the aforementioned cashew-less duck salad, served with the same dressing as the chicken salad, not very much like the promised “spicy lime sauce.” The beef with broccoli (pint, $5.75) was satisfactory, with competent brown sauce and a pleasant beef-to-broccoli ratio, and Kung Po beef (pint, $5.75) was a serviceable version of the classic.
That feeling of nearly every dish missing something pervaded. But here’s where the train really leaves the tracks, dear reader. No fortune cookies. That is not a typo. Two $40 orders of Chinese takeout, some 50 packets of soy and duck sauces between them (plus the one mustard), and not one fortune cookie. Just another thing gone missing out of many.
Hopsing’s has taken formulaic, middle-of-the-road Chinese takeout, added an unnecessary twist or two, and seemingly forgotten the details along the way. While I don’t expect perfection in my $6 strip mall meal, a little attention to detail, in every aspect of the operation, would be a more than welcome addition — more welcome than Thai or Japanese options, to be sure.