I’m not usually one for formalities. I tend to lean towards things that are on the cusp, a little irreverent and not done by the book. I figured the start of the Chinese New Year was the perfect time to check out Blue Giant, the hot new American-Chinese restaurant in the Lower Garden District on Magazine Street.
Buzz has been surrounding Blue Giant for months and I already had a plan of action going in. I find with these hot-spots it’s best to try and go at lunch, so I headed over around 1 p.m. on a Saturday. There was a bit of a wait, but we quickly settled into a booth in the cozy dining room.
I love the atmosphere of this spot. It’s small inside, but not cramped, and the open kitchen provides thrills as you wait for your food. There are a few booths and more seating at the bar space, overlooking the kitchen. Peking ducks hang in the kitchen’s window, tempting those dining to try one out for taste.
Onto the food! I started with an order of egg rolls ($3 each) and an order of the shrimp and pork dumplings. I was so excited about this egg roll; it came out so fresh that it was steaming when I cracked it open. There is a nice crust on the outside, and it has that nice “crunch” when you bite into it. It’s packed with a generous amount of pork and shrimp and the flavors are exotic and familiar. I love a good egg roll and Blue Giant’s immediately jumped to the top of my “must order” list. The dumplings are another star; they are pan fried and come with a nice lacy crust on the outside, almost akin to edible art. The dumplings themselves are soft and flavorful and filled with tender pork and shrimp. They have a very light crunch on the outside, while the inside is soft and melts in your mouth.
For my entrée I got the Salt and Pepper Catfish. This is piece of catfish sliced, battered and fried, almost tempura style, and served with sautéed onions and peppers, which added some spice. The catfish itself was light and it was a dish that would have easily paired well with some of the other offerings on the menu, especially if you’re visiting for dinner and you’re looking to go “all out.”
I also got to sample a few bites of the Dan Dan Noodles. This is Blue Giant’s take on a ramen-esque dish that is tasty noodles tossed in a sesame paste with added chili flavors, for some spice, and nice mix of pork. The waiter mentioned that this has been one of Blue Giant’s more popular dishes, and I can see why. The noodles have a spicy kick that hits you a few moments after your first bite. It isn’t overwhelming by any means, but more of what I would call a delicious heat.
Don’t go into Blue Giant expecting an authentic trip through the Orient or typical greasy American-Chinese take-out. The dishes here err more on the side of Chinese-inspired, but if you like Chinese with an American twist, as I do, then this will be the place for you. Other offerings on the menu include shrimp wontons, fried rice, chow fun, scallop egg foo young, stir fried broccoli and whole Peking duck that can be yours for $65.
As a nice touch, Blue Giant also includes personalized fortunes in their fortune cookies. Mine read “You will find love in a hopeless place.” It’s an interesting sentiment; Blue Giant is anything but a hopeless place, but I certainly found (and felt) the love here.
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