Too much of a good thing is never quite enough. After a long period of speculation and anticipation, the revered original Green Tea restaurant that has been bringing foodies some truly innovative Hangzhou fusion cuisine from its outpost tucked away in the lush hillsides, has now opened a second venue on Da Dou Food Street. They’re bringing the flavors and essence of the first location to the emerging north side of the city. Thomas, the energetic owner and designer of the building's very unique and comfortable interior filled the space with interesting nooks and crannies, wood-trimmed indoor windows, a rock garden in the open central atrium, and various Chinese ethnic minority jewelry and motifs. Our meal was not the first thing on our minds as we pulled up and saw the mob of people milling around outside the front door. Once inside the restaurant, it was a tight squeeze that gave the entire space a sort of energy that wasn't altogether chaotic, but certainly made us wonder how this venue will be able to offer the full experience to discriminating diners whose eyes dart furtively for an open seat. The meal we had was an absolute feast totaling thirteen courses in all. Towers of puffed rice with spicy coconut curry sauce and mashed potato made a great starter to this session, and crispy fried potato strips with fresh coriander and spices provided a great contrast with its airy crunch. Next was a full-flavored dish of tender roasted beef tips with a pepper sauce glaze, followed by a Green Tea signature item, their savory sliced BBQ pork. It was as good as we've come to expect. Another signature dish of fried cabbage with peppers was also a winner, but it pains us to say that the famous “jiao ma ji” was good, but sadly lacking the 'oomph' we've come to love with foods that have “ma” in their names. It was quickly forgotten as Green Tea's awesome mushroom cheese casserole showed up, and provided a homemade taste that even the pickiest eater can tuck into with confidence. Among the most notable items was the black rice and BBQ chicken, a winner with nice coarse textures from the rice. The ox tail and rice soup provided a rich and velvety mouthfeel with mellow flavors. Desserts were but a faint memory after the feeding frenzy, and did we mention this place is really busy? Call ahead to reserve a seat before you even think about coming over and still be prepared to wait, even when your turn has come. Prices are roughly equivalent to the original Green Tea and plenty of parking is available.
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