The name is generic. The food court location, even more so. And since Thai & Chinese Express offers the usual of array of chafing trays where the orange chicken is still a coveted item, most people could be forgiven to dismiss it as such. But slowly, gradually, more and more customers are beginning to realize that there's more behind this food court counter than what can be picked off the steam table line. They're discovering the thing to do is to order a la carte. The kitchen makes a fine pad Thai, but the Thai noodle to eat here is actually pad see ew--the truest expression of this relatively unsung stir fried noodle of Chinese origins and Thai interpretation.
If you've had the dish elsewhere you'd know the components are dead simple: Scotch Tape-wide rice noodles, sweet soy sauce, beef, some sort of green vegetable preferably of the crisp and snappy variety. Everything else is in the execution; and Thai & Chinese Express does it exceeding well. It uses not one but three different types of greens: bok choy, American and Chinese broccoli. None of it is overcooked. The beef is plentiful and tender, and the rice noodle ribbons it renders to a silken texture--each slippery belt left with just the slightest chew and thoroughly seeped through of the seasoning. As it needs to ultimately slide into your gullet, a little grease is permissible and expected. But you need to eat it seconds from the blazing heat of the wok to fully appreciate its splendor. It only retains the precious, seared wok-breath for exactly the length of time you'll need to finish the dish...which isn't long.
Thai & Chinese Express, 2540 Main St. Unit J, Irvine, CA 92614, (949) 724-1813
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