Monday, September 19, 2011
Chinese restaurants are a dime-a-dozen in the Greater Rochester area. Chances are, no matter where you live, you're within at least delivery distance of steaming, hot sesame chicken and greased-up fried rice. While this is incredibly convenient to many Rochester area residents, this also does not ensure that every place around these parts is going to serve quality, delicious, or at times, even edible fare. So many Chinese restaurants seem to get by simply by taking advantage of the fact that we Americans are fat and love anything swimming in exotic sauces (trust me, you can't deny this). Normally, these places slapping the phrase “Best Rochester Take-Out Food of Chinese” or “Number 1 Super the Best Chinese” is enough for us – we completely ignore the glaringly, grammatically-incorrect Engrish and dive headfirst into a platter of beef lo mein. While I'm sure I'm just as guilty of this folly as many of you, I can confidently say that No. 1 Rochester Chinese Restaurant is quite deserving of the abbreviated “number 1” rank they have added to their title.
Despite operating almost directly across the street from Wokery (also quite good – review coming soon?), No. 1 has managed to maintain a solid foothold in the Tops plaza in Gates, dishing out gargantuan portions for affordable prices, and doing so within only 15 minutes of ordering, no matter how outrageously big the order. Needless to say, Morgan and I have made this our No. 1 (see what I did there?) pick when we're too lazy to cook and want to overload on Chinese take-out. Each time, the food has managed to remain consistent in quality, and service has been quick and efficient. The unbelievably low bill is always a nice touch too. College kids in the area on a budget, tip of the century: order from here.
On this particular occasion, I decided to order a few of my favorites, which included an egg roll, a quart of egg drop soup, and some Schezuan wontons. All this only came to a little over $7. Talk about stretching your buck.
It took only 15 minutes from ordering for our food to be ready, and we eagerly rushed out to pick it up. On the way back home, I don't think my mouth stopped watering for a second.
Onto the food: Morgan and I consider No. 1's egg rolls to be some of the best in Rochester. Crispy outside, perfect, steamy inside, and not too greasy, these things are gone in a matter of seconds, despite being rather huge. The inside is a delicious blend of delicate pork and shredded cabbage. The combination is savory and hearty, and the crunch from the cabbage adds incredible texture to this Chinese meal-starter.
My quart of egg drop soup could not have been better – delicious, light strands of egg white swam in a slightly salty, appropriately thick container of broth. The portion may have been a bit unnecessary – I basically was given a bathtub of egg broth for only $2.50. I probably could have saved the container to use as a dog house or maybe even a swimming pool in the summer. Ridiculous.
My main course actually came from the “Appetizers” portion of the menu, but unless I had decided to share this with my entire extended family (including deceased relatives), this was far too much food for a single person. Twelve wontons, stuffed into a round, metal container didn't look like a lot at first, but once I ate one of these delicious bundles of amazing, I instantly compared them in weight and size to a pool ball. If you can eat an entire rack of pool balls, then this may seem like just an appetizer to you, but to the average non-freakish human, this is a daunting (yet completely delicious) task. The brown Schezuan sauce these are prepared in is salty-sweet, with a hint of spicy kick. The flavor is robust and full, and is complemented perfectly by the soft noodle outside, and the tender beef inside of the wonton. While this is undoubtedly my favorite item from No. 1, it does tend to get a little one-note in flavor after tossing down a few wontons, due to the simplicity of the dish (which is probably why it's considered an appetizer to begin with).
All in all, Morgan and I enjoyed yet another great meal from No. 1, and could not be happier to live so close to such a great establishment. Somehow, Chinese restaurants have become almost as commonplace in America as burger joints, and unfortunately this over-saturation of the market – much like burger joints – has brought in its' wake the acceptance of low-quality food in line with our low expectations. Fortunately, standing out in this sea of muck are a number of businesses that have not allowed themselves to fall or fail, and it is within these businesses that I am glad to take shelter. No. 1 Rochester Chinese Restaurant has stood strongly by its' belief in quality service, and has yet to disappoint me. I highly suggest the next time you're in the neighborhood to try it out.
Score (out of 10): 8
Location: 2317 Buffalo Road, Rochester, NY 14624
Phone Number: (585) 247-9220