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Dining out: The Red Tea House

Published: Friday, Feb. 25 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

I love the name Red Tea House, the restaurant reviewed this week.

Of course, that was all I really loved about it.

But don't go away thinking I didn't like the food at Red Tea House; it was decent Chinese. And the service was good. If you live in the area of 7000 South and Redwood Road, and you feel like Chinese, you could do worse.

A friend and I visited Red Tea House for lunch on a recent Saturday, and there was a fairly steady flow of customers in and out. Besides the pictures of teapots on the menu, there's no real reference to tea in the clean and comfortable, if fairly basic, dining room. There are tables and chairs of dark wood, lots of plants, a few Chinese screens and a couple of beautiful pieces of Chinese carving.

We started with cream-cheese-and-crab wontons, plump little packages tightly wrapped around a dollop of crab-infused cheese. They were sweetened just a bit; I like them better when the natural flavors shine through a little more.

For lunch, we had a feast of ham-fried rice, sweet-and-sour chicken and the house specialty, Happy Family.

The ham-fried rice was milder than other versions I've had, with tawny, savory rice, plenty of cubed ham and veggies. It was light both in color and consistency and not gummy or stuck together. There was none of the deep, almost smoky flavor you get with the best fried rice, but it was tasty.

The sweet-and-sour chicken was well cooked, with delicate, golden-crisped breading that was tender underneath. It surrounded good-size pieces of lean chicken piled into a plentiful serving. It could have been my favorite part of the meal if not for the standard bright-red glutinous sauce. At least it wasn't poured over the top. I think I might have liked the lemon chicken or spicy orange chicken better; I'm just not a huge fan of that sauce.

As I looked over the column of house specialties on the menu, our server recommended the Happy Family, a dish I haven't had for a long time. It was a large serving of shrimp, scallops, beef, chicken and pork with veggies in a meaty version of that brown gravy-like sauce that's found on many Chinese dishes.

I enjoyed the shrimp, which were tender, sweet and large, and the tiny but flavorful scallops. The pork was fine, and though there was just a little chicken in our portion, the plentiful amounts of the other meats made up for it. The beef, though, was quite tough, hard to cut with a fork and very chewy. The veggies in the dish — Chinese standards like baby corn — were fine but tasted either canned or simmered until their bright freshness faded away.

I think perhaps I ordered the wrong things at Red Tea House. There are several interesting specialties on the menu, such as chicken with onion in black pepper sauce, or the crystal prawns and chicken, composed of sliced prawns and chicken with straw mushrooms, baby corn, red pepper, broccoli and snow peas, topped with fresh ginger and garlic sauce.

If I'm ever in the neighborhood again, maybe I'll give something else a try.

Lunch combinations $4.25-$5.95, appetizers and soups $1-$9, rice and noodles $4.25-$9.50, meat and seafood dishes $5.75-$8.95, vegetarian selections $5.25-$7.20, foo yong and moo shu dishes $5.75-$7.50, specialties $9.50-$12.50.


Rating: **

Where: 7098 S. Redwood Road, West Jordan

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Sunday, 12:30 p.m.-9 p.m.

Payment: No checks accepted

Phone: 748-2277


Stacey Kratz is a free-lance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News.

E-mail: skratz@desnews.com

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