In Fairfield County, finding top notch authentic Chinese cuisine is akin to finding a little night life…it's slim pickings at best. Filling a void, and satisfying his own craving, Greenwich resident Jody Pennette of cb5 Restaurant Group (Lolita Cocina, Red Lulu, Gabriele's Steak House) decided to take matters into his own hands with the newly opened China White Noodle Bar.
Six years in the making, China White, is a sleek, modern restaurant that prepares real Chinese food…the kind you may have experienced in NYC's China Town. Think ‘dumpling noodle house’ meets ‘Chinatown street vendor,’ prepared by real Hong Kong cooks. As if this is not appealing enough, China White takes the menu one step further, featuring natural chicken, local raised pork, grass fed beef, wild caught seafood, cage-free chicken eggs, organic duck, and organic vegetables. The result is clean, classically sophisticated Chinese cuisine with family-style dining and a subtly hip vibe.
Why "White?" The color does not just describe the jasmine rice, which also comes in the California brown variety. White defines the purity and integrity of the food, the upholstered white walls, and the sense of light in this chicly designed space.
Communal tables, counter seating, and an exposed kitchen give this dining room palpable energy. The servers in white jump suits and the delivery of a "Magic 8 Ball" in lieu of fortune cookies give it a welcome sense of humor.
The chefs, who commute in from China Town every morning, sometimes bring with them specialty ingredients. These enhance the menu, which includes classics such as dim sum and dumplings, boa boa buns, noodles, crisp salads, and more substantial Chinese specialties including Peking Roast Duck and Tangerine Beef. When asked how China White developed their menu, cb5's Culinary Director Lynn Saathoff said "We knew we had some favorites we wanted to hit, but Executive Chef Zhou Guang Zan came up with some fresh updates on the classics."
This can be seen in the stand out Spicy Fried Rice, speckled with minced Thai "Birds eye" and Serrano chilies, then topped with a soft egg. As for the classics, the Barbecued Spare Ribs in a honey plum glaze were exceptionally good, as were the pillowy soft Boa Bao bun with Chinatown Roast Pork. General Tso's sweet and spicy fried fish replaces the standard chicken with great success and we hear the chef may have a whole steamed fish in the works.
For anyone who has frequented Red Lulu or Lolita Cocina, you'll recall that cb5 takes their drinks seriously. China White's cocktail offering is as pristine and considered as its menu. While their Purchase location delivers a full bar, Greenwich keeps it simple with beer, wine, sake, and plum wine sangria, as well as cocktails featuring shochu, a distilled liquor commonly found in Asia. Shochu can be distilled using a variety of starches, each exhibiting a unique flavor profile. China White's drinks menu features several shochu varietals including sugar cane shochu, spicy wasabi, as well as the barley based ginza. We preferred these to the more standard vodka as it presented a cleaner, more natural taste.
To create worthy companions for these drinks, China White enlisted a local confectioner to produce the organic syrups used in the cocktails, as well as a full menu of organic house made sodas. A sampling of the mandarin orange and white cola had us promptly hooked.
Another light and beautifully presented thirst quencher is the organic Iced White Ginger-Peach Tea Service, served table side for maximum effect.
It is worth noting that China White offers gluten and wheat free noodle dishes such as rice vermicelli with golden curry and crushed peanuts; glass noodles with wild mushrooms; and chow fun with five spice chili basil, all of which can be prepared with choice of vegetable, tofu, beef, pork, chicken or shrimp.
While prior Chinese dessert experiences may have left you wanting, don't wave away the dessert menu at China White. Months of recipe development has yielded a Chinese inspired treats menu that offers some unique touches. The cleverly named "White on Rice" offers the ultimate in comfort food; coconut rice pudding topped with mango puree, almond-vanilla cream, studded with contrasting almond slivers. The "Honey Buns" are mini hum boa, deep fried and reminiscent of a Krispy Kreme doughnut straight from the oven. And in a final whimsical nod, China White's signature chai-flavored cotton candy will grace your lazy susan.
In keeping with an American Chinese tradition, China White does a strong take-out business, while re-inventing the manner by which it is executed. A late night schedule will allow hungry revelers, post show patrons, and tired commuters a place to enjoy quality food while the rest of the neighborhood is calling it a night.
China White Noodle Bar 249 Railroad Ave., Greenwich, (203) 674-8577