So, China Palace (5210 Garrett Rd) has a super secret menu, and Carpe Durham is always excited to explore the unknown. The traditional menu is offered up on weekends. By the looks of their website they may shift to offer it more often. Oh, and there they call it Palace Magic. I’ve been a fan of their more typical Chinese-American fare since moving to Durham (particularly General Ching’s, and the spicy chicken wing appetizer is a steal–they give you legs and wings!), so I was stoked for the secret menu venture and it did not disappoint.
The scallion pancake was really, really good. It only got better with a dangerous amount of hot mustard on it. It is crisp and awesome. I fantasized about a stack of these pancakes.
Of the four things pictured here, the beef congee takes the cake. The rice porridge was thick and delicious. It actually didn’t need the beef. (I can’t believe I’m recommending against meat in a dish.) The fried dough was, well, fried dough. Nothing wrong with that. The tea stood out as it wasn’t steeped all day and bitter like it seems to be at a lot of other places. Lastly, the dish hardly visible in the back, the Chinese five spice beef mix most certainly was cooked all day, if not since last week. There were three different beef, ahem, parts: liver, tripe, and some unidentifiable cut–likely a roast or brisket or the like. The tripe and the meat were enjoyable and as rich as you might imagine. The five spice mix was thoroughly incorporated into the meats. The liver, however, was still liver. Not a morsel I’ve ever enjoyed, I found the liver to be tolerable and I ate it with rice and a little soy sauce because it was so intense and liverlike.
The spicy dry bean curd with shredded pork was as good as it sounds. This stir fry of pork, tofu, and hot peppers was a veritable party in the mouth. The tofu remained firm and helped ease the heat from the peppers, that had flavor that was integral to the dish–bringing more than just the pain. I highly recommend this one.
If you want to have a super secret feast they have a couple items that require two days advance notice to prepare. They include Cantonese duck and steamed spare ribs with black bean sauce.