Bao Ju [Sweet and Sour Chicken]
I’m not even going to bother talking about the low-salt, low-calorie wagon. The wheels fell off that wagon, then the entire wagon burnt to the ground, and then a tsunami came and washed the ashes out to sea. That’s how far gone the wagon is. To celebrate the demise of the wagon, Food in the Fox made a snap decision and rolled into Bao Ju in Neenah just before lunchtime on Thursday.
“Enjoy Our Celebration of Flavors”
First, a little bit about the name “Bao Ju.” According to its menu, “Bao Ju is actually two Chinese characters which mean all kinds of fire crackers. Fire crackers are used to celebrate happy occasions. So sit back and enjoy our celebration of flavors.” Now that we have the language lesson out of the way, we can chat about the good stuff: the food.
First to arrive at the table were the hot crab meat rangoon. Six came on the plate and while they could have used a bit more crab, tasted just fine. They were hot and seemed fresh and arrived at the table within minutes of ordering. Following the rangoon was the egg drop soup. As far as I’m aware, egg drop soup is egg drop soup because it tastes the same everywhere I have ever had it. From relatively upscale sit down restaurants to $5.25 quick and dirty buffets, the egg drop has been remarkably consistent. It’s surprising how tasty something the consistency of snot can be. Gross.
Following the appetizers came the main course, which arrived quickly enough that I was still working on the rangoon and the soup when it arrived. As you can see from the photo, the sweet and sour chicken was topped with carrots, pineapple, and green peppers in addition to a pleasing sweet and sour sauce. I’ve had “sweet and sour” sauce that was either all sweet, all sour, or even tasted like runny ketchup. Fortunately, this sauce was nicely balanced. Also found on the plate was pork fried rice and an egg roll. I’m not a big fan of egg rolls, so I didn’t give it a try, but the rice and the sweet and sour chicken didn’t stand a chance. They were definitely a notch or three above what you would find at a Chinese buffet, for example.
A Few Extras
There were also some “extras” to be found at Bao Ju. For one, the service was very good with our water glasses being filled the moment they were an inch low. Also, on the table was a fairly potent horseradish infused mustard, a light duck sauce, and soy sauce. The final extra was the Chinese restaurant standard fortune cookies. Somebody must have a monopoly on fortune cookies because I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten the same brand at every Chinese joint in the Valley.
All told the bill for two lunch specials and a starter of crab meat rangoon rang in at just over $18.00. Can you find less expensive Chinese in the Fox Valley? Of course, but I definitely felt like I got what I paid for at Bao Ju.
Bao Ju Mandarin Gourmet
415 S Commercial Street
Neenah, WI 54956