It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the old song goes. December 25th is creeping up and the Kosher Kritic finds himself in a seasonal mood. And what could be more seasonal or represent Jewish Xmas better than….yes, you guessed it – Chinese food.
The strange love affair between the Jews and Chinese food reaches it pinnacle on December 25th. Many a Jewish child consoles themselves after being spurned by Saint Nick by spinning a dreidel whilst waiting for an order of egg rolls to arrive.
It’s a bit paradoxical then, that we are somewhat bereft here in the holy land of good kosher Chinese restaurants at present.
But if you want the best, and will accept no substitutes – then head on up to Tiberias and visit Pagoda restaurant in Lido Beach.
Pagoda is the sister restaurant to the much more widely known Decks, and for my money it is WAYYYYYYYYYY better.
Like a sultry sea siren, luring unsuspecting sailors to their shore – I cannot go North, nor return home without a visit to Pagoda. It’s so intoxicating, that right now, as I’m writing these words I’m contemplating trying to talk Mrs. Kosher Kritic into driving up there for dinner.
It’s that good!
We normally start with their sumptuous wonton soup (19 NIS). They just nail the flavor perfectly. Warm, sweet, and savory, all delicately balanced and in harmony with one another. Just the right amount of bean sprouts, a little chicken and a really nice sized steamed wonton – about two or three spoons worth.
They used to just serve it in these weird communal bowls, and we would huddle around like junkies about to get a fix, as we valiantly tried to serve it into individual bowls as quickly as possible, but without spilling a single precious drop.
Now, thankfully they started serving it in individual bowls as well, relieving us poor desperate patrons of that unseemly stress.
My younger two children prefer the corn soup (17 NIS), which is also excellent, but a little too sweet for my tastes. If you want the best of both worlds you can order an additional wonton that you can add to your soup.
My son, one time when feeling adventurous went for the hot and sour soup (22NIS), which was also great. But that wonton soup is so good I can never imagine foregoing it for anything else.
Next up is an order of deep fried wontons and egg rolls – yes, you can actually hear your arteries hardening, but it is so worth the guilt.
The egg rolls (15 NIS each) are of the larger variety, served fresh, crispy and hot, with a slightly sweet shredded cabbage interior. You can also order chicken egg rolls, but I prefer the vegetarian ones.
They come with a sweet’n sour and slightly spicy chilli sauce. Both of which I just love.
If sweet’n sour is your thing (and of course it is!) then the fried wontons (30 NIS) will make you go weak at the knees. Piled high, and served on a bed of chopped vegetables drowned in sweet and sour sauce.
What a crunchy yummy delight!
My daughter wanted the dim sum (30 NIS), and being a good father I couldn’t let her eat them alone. Beautifully steamed chicken and meat dumplings, served with a soy garlic dipping sauce. I really want to stress, that there’s nothing really innovative or unexpected about any of these dishes, they’re just all done right, and as good as you could ever hope to get.
We’ve also had the satay chicken as an appetizer before, but now we often get that with the main course. Thin slivers of chicken breast, cooked in a satay, slightly curried maranade, served on skewers and an awesome homemade peanuty spicy satay sauce.
All of this was fantastic, and any normal person with an ounce of self control would stop there, full and satiated.
So the Kosher Kritic and family continued on, then, to the main courses.
The boneless lemon chicken (68 NIS) is a cornerstone of our meal. I’d say it’s more of a sweet n’ sour chicken, with a lemon scent – and I’m saying it like it’s a good thing. It’s actually the closest I’ve found to a General Tsao’s chicken in these fair lands.
Mrs. Kosher Kritic’s favorite dish is the Pad Thai (52 NIS), which we got in the chicken variety, but the beef is equally good. Succulent sweet Pad Thai noodles served with bean sprouts and topped with crush peanuts and wedge of lemon.
It’s good before you squeeze the lemon on, but ridonculous after you do. How good is it? I just had to resort to using the made up word ‘ridonculous’ to describe it.
The Kosher Kritic boys, however, are most excited about the next dish – the duck! All hail crispy duck! (68 NIS) Don’t get too exited, as it’s not the traditional crispy duck, that you shred and eat with hoi sin sauce and cold veggies in pancakes. Actually, I take that back – DO get excited for small pieces of my favorite fowl, deep fried in a tempura.
It’s served with a ginger garlic sauce, but one time my son had a moment of true genius. He looked up, eyes wide in astonishment as he experienced a ‘eureka’ moment – like he had found a cure for cancer.
‘Lets try eating the duck with the satay sauce,’ he said.
And thus he justified his entire existence.
At this point I was on sensory overload, but not too much to forego the ginger beef (65 NIS). Small slices of beef served in a ginger sauce with vegetables. And it was, and I know this will be surprising for you, fantastic!
Be sure to order rice with your meal, as it doesn’t come with it as standard. I like the Thai rice (39 NIS), which is essential fried rice. Most of the rest of the family prefers the simple steamed white rice (12 NIS).
Also, even though it is no longer on the menu, make sure you ask if they have their spare ribs – which they do sometimes. And if they do you’re in for a mind blowing treat. Lamb ribs in a tangy sweet sticky sauce.
If you’re still conscious at this point and fancy some dessert to go with your soothing Chinese tea, then fried ice cream (24 NIS) and fried bananas (26 NIS) are both very good.
Fortunately my son just passed his MDA course, and was on hand with a defibrillator if I succumbed to a heart attack during this throughly indulgent and unhealthy meal, which is a precaution I’d heartedly recommend.
Wait, is that the sound of sleigh bells I hear? No, just some deeply fatty meat, being battered and deep fried – it was a Jewish Xmas miracle.
Lido Beach, Tiberias 14102
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