This column is a continuing series by Chef Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group which runs every Thursday.
This past Monday, Feb. 8 began the Year of the Monkey and many of the Chinese restaurants in the Westchester area kicked off the festivities with celebration menus that pulled out all the stops.
I love Chinese cuisine and the artistry it can achieve in the right hands. Of all the great cuisines -- French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish among others -- I find Chinese the most difficult and exacting of all. Finding great Chinese food is a challenge but one worth the hunt. Certainly the Chinatowns of New York City, Flushing, New York and San Francisco offer diners truly authentic and delicious experiences. Whether you're looking for the heat of Sichuan, the smokiness of Hunan or the comfort of Cantonese styles, you will find perfect renditions in and around these Chinatowns where Chinese immigrants have settled.
In Westchester, it may not be as easy to find great Chinese cooking but there are several Chinese restaurants that offer great dining experiences. My hands down favorite is Aberdeen in White Plains.
Aberdeen has been serving authentic Cantonese cuisine for many years now and its owner, who is always present, takes the presentation of the food they serve very seriously. Aberdeen is also one of the first restaurants in Westchester to offer Dim Sum Luncheon, a rolling buffet of many dishes offered tableside. Guests are presented the latest offerings from the kitchen and choose from the many assorted dumplings, barbequed meats, steamed custards and fish offerings one at a time.
Aberdeen also offers what in my opinion is the best Peking Duck served in the area. The duck roasted and lacquered is served in two courses. First, fat slices of the crispy skin with sweet meat attached are presented with slivers of cucumber and green scallion. The skin is then tucked into a freshly steamed bun which has been painted with Hoisin sauce (plum sauce) and then topped with the cucumber and scallion. This is for all intent and purposes a “Great Sandwich”, Chinese style! The soft steamed bun, the crispy duck skin, the sweetness of the plum sauce, the subtlety of the green onion and the crunch of cucumber puts all in harmony for an incredible taste sensation.
Then, just when you think you've reached nirvana, another dish arrives; this one is the meat of the duck stir fried with a fine julienne of vegetables. The meat is at once smoky, velvety and perfumed with five-spice and star anise for an utterly brilliant dish.
So whatever your mood, a fun Dim Sum luncheon or a Peking Duck dinner celebration Aberdeen in White Plains is the spot!
Aberdeen is at 3 Barker Ave., White Plains, (914) 288-0188, www.aberdeenwhiteplains.com/.
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