Classic Asian-American dishes fall short on taste, quality, originality.
Sesame chicken at Amerasia in Rossford.
Some memories are better left in the past. What Midwestern kid didn't get excited about a meal at the local Chinese-American eatery? It was a little exotic with those Chinese astrology paper place mats, heaping bowls of steaming rice, and a fortune cookie to wrap up what seemed like a quick trip to someplace far away.
A newcomer to the market, Amerasia is a nod to those retro Americanized Chinese joints that since have given way to sushi bars and pan-Asian bistros. I wish I could say Amerasia left me with pleasant memories. Instead, I found myself a little bewildered and very disappointed.
We started off with the BoBo Tray ($4.95), a sampling of several popular appetizers. The BBQ rib was quite good with a sweet sauce, but sadly very little meat. The shrimp cheese puff and the fried shrimp were not bad, but extremely heavy-handed with the batter. The bali maki, a thinly sliced beef skewer, had a somewhat off taste due to the tough, poor-quality beef. Instead of the advertised spring roll, we received a pork egg roll that featured a wrapper saturated with oil.
For dinner, we opted for General Tso's Chicken ($8.95,) Sesame Chicken ($8.95,) Mei Fun Chicken ($7.25,) and a dish called Treasure of the Sea ($12.50.)
The General Tso's chicken and the sesame chicken were virtually the same dinner. Heavily breaded fried dark chunks of chicken in a saccharine sweet sauce. The only difference was the smattering of sesame seeds and limp olive green broccoli adorning the sesame chicken.
OK, I'll agree that ordering a dish called Treasure of the Sea when the closest sea is a full day's drive from here might have been poor planning. But even the sauce was a failure. What should have been a recognizable mild white wine sauce honestly tasted more like corn starch and water. The crab was of the fake variety, the scallops were overcooked and rubbery; but the biggest problem was the tough lobster that I suspect had been freezer-burned. The only redeeming ingredients were the meaty shrimp and the fresh slices of celery.
The mei fun was the modest high point of the meal. The thin mei fun rice noodles were perfectly cooked and worked well in the light, but somewhat bland sauce with poached chicken.
Returning for lunch, I hoped that dinner was just the result of a bad night. As our fried dumplings ($4.25) arrived along with a cup of wonton soup ($1.35) things seemed to look up. The dumplings had a nice, slightly smoky char and a flavorful meaty filling that worked well with the sweet ginger soy sauce. The wonton soup had some of the biggest wontons I have seen, although they looked conspicuously like the fried dumplings I had just eaten.
My hopes for an improved lunch sank as the orange chicken ($5.25) and the Hunan beef ($5.25) arrived. The orange chicken had a sickly aroma of bitter orange furniture cleaner over the same heavily breaded dark meat chunks of chicken from our dinner.
Somewhat better was the Hunan beef with a more nuanced spicy sauce and fresh mushrooms; but the grayish fatty beef fell flat.
It is never enjoyable to deliver such a laundry list of inadequacies. The server was friendly and the location could be superb. But the lack of effort exhibited in the meals is inexcusable. My best guess is that the sauces and the meat are all frozen and pre-prepared, as are the rather obvious cubed carrots and peas in the fried rice.
On a positive note, the prices are relatively inexpensive. But few diners will abide cheap meals that taste even cheaper. Fresh ingredients and homemade sauces might require more time and effort, but they also invariably cost less and tend to elicit a dedicated clientele.
Contact Bill of Fare at email@example.com.
Address: 311 Superior St., Rossford
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average price: $.
Credit cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: AmerasiaRestaurant.com.