Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Oct 02nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Emperor's Old Clothes

dining_dynastyI found food fit for a king at the beautifully furnished Dynasty Restaurant

It was a rare but welcome night when my dad came home with red and white cartons of Chinese food. Later, when an associate of his returned from Japan with chopsticks, I was excited to learn how they work. Sweet and sour pork (which our neighbor Mrs. Kong taught my mother to make) was a favorite.

I stopped at Dynasty Restaurant a few months ago for egg rolls and was immeasurably impressed by the decor. Three large tables the color of rosewood appear able to seat twelve, each with lazy Susans and adorned with gilded dragons. The banquet room holds an even bigger circular table.

Wallpaper shimmers metallically depicting aerial views of Chinese street life, and in the back hall from similar paper, dragons seem to emerge three dimensionally from the smooth surface. Behind glass hangs a yellow robe worn by an Emperor's family member in the 1700s.

Recently at brunch, the tables were set with bright plates of Chinese design, primarily yellow and blue. A matching porcelain pot kept our tea hot until the fortune cookie course. Dynasty offers a selection of teas made with purified spring water, and we chose pu-erh ($3); flavorful and almost peach-colored. This aged large-leaf tea from southwest China, which our server said is very expensive, is sold in pressed cakes. (On-line I found desirable older teas for $6 an ounce and more.)

We began our meal with something I thought an oxymoron - Chinese Corn Soup ($6.50/$9.50). Served in a white heart-shaped bowl, it was so delicious it was hard to save room for the three dishes that would arrive later. In the rich broth, bits of flavorful chicken and sweet yellow kernels of corn joined ghostly suspended egg whites.

I requested a spicy version of Garlic Chicken ($8.95) which arrived on a rounded triangular white plate. It was very simple, with long, thick strips of sautéed chicken breast, large, crunchy slices of water chestnut, and crisp broccoli and carrots in a light, salty sauce flecked with dried chili flakes.

One of the award-winning chef's specialties is beef or lamb in Zilan sauce ($13.95). Very tender, thin slices of lamb, blackened dried chilies, and a generous amount of toasted cumin seeds were tossed in a dark floral sauce and laid atop light and puffed rice noodles. As the lamb was richly marbled, I would order beef next time.

Like the Garlic Chicken, Twice-Cooked Pork ($8.95) was prepared with very little oil. Thin rectangles of lean pork tenderloin with cabbage, carrots, green onion and bamboo shoots were coated with a brown sauce.  A subtle sweet note joined a mounting sour essence, leaving just a hint of fire in the back of my throat. Our server said that in most of China sugar was used sparingly, if at all, and was balanced with a tartness and saltiness.

Dynasty offers weekday lunch specials ($6.50 to $9.50), and on weekends a dim sum lunch. They're open every day.


Dynasty Restaurant, El Rancho Shopping Center, 3601 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz, 479-3388. Open weekdays 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and weekends 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visit chinadynastyrestaurant.com.

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by author, February 16, 2011
Benjamin, Thank you so much for sharing a local source for the wonderful Puerh tea.

Karen
Puerh is amazing...
written by Benjamin Cox, January 18, 2011
Great article and, indeed, a beautiful restaurant.

I just wanted to comment on your mention of Puerh. I've recently (in May) discovered Puerh and have never looked back. It is an amazing blend of flavor, energetic expansion, and a terrific tool for stimulating wonderful conversation.

I noticed you mention finding some online... let me warn you that truly high-quality Puerh can be very difficult to find online. There was a boom in Yunnan, China in the late nineties, and a bust late this past decade. As such, there are a lot of folks with investments trying to recoup their losses. Also, forgeries and counterfeits.

However, in my opinion the best Puerh I've been able to find _in the whole US_ is right here in downtown Santa Cruz, at Chaikhana. Check out some of the reviews on their Yelp page for some perspective: http://www.yelp.com/biz/chaikh...anta-cruz.

I'm not affiliated with them, but have become a regular customer. Since my first experience with Puerh in David's shop it has become a central part of my life. So, if you were intrigued by the taste you tried at Dynasty, you owe it to yourself to go down to Cedar St, walk into Chaikhana, and tell David you'd like to try some Puerh.

Cheers,

Ben

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

On the Waterfront

As the wharf celebrates its centennial, a personal reflection on its essential place in Santa Cruz’s history

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Melinda’s

New Capitola bakery takes gluten-free goods to the next level

 

Do you think you are addicted to technology?

Santa Cruz  |  Unemployed

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”