Blue Gibbon is located in a nondescript building in an industrial area on Tennessee Avenue in Paddock Hills. The huge dining room is a shocking contrast to the bland exterior. There are massive Chinese urns, some interesting artwork and a lot of hanging carved gibbons, although surprisingly none of them are painted blue. The floors are stark white and the lighting is atrociously harsh and bright, but this pseudo fast-food feel belies the quality of the food.
The menu is standard Chinese-American. Every dish that you can possibly think of is on this 134-item menu. (Yes, I actually took the time to count the number of dishes!) Service is not necessarily friendly but is definitely efficient. Perhaps because I felt slightly rushed by the server as I examined the menu, I feel that my food choices were rather mundane. After that build up, I bet you think that now I’m going to slam the food. Wrong! Everything was pretty damn solid.
I started with Hot & Sour Soup ($1.50). Blue Gibbon has a good version of this classic. It was tangy with a nice mix of pork, tofu, mushrooms and bamboo. It just wasn’t hot enough, either in temperature or spice.
For our appetizer, and in order to try as many things as possible, we got the usually maligned Po Po Platter ($9.25). We received two pieces each of Spring Rolls, Fried Shrimp, Crab Rangoon, BBQ Beef Satay and pan-fried Potstickers. The Crab Rangoon (four for $3.75 if ordered individually) were very good. The flavor of the crab was not overpowered by the cream cheese and they were perfectly fried.
The Potstickers (4 for $3.75) had a rich, flavorful filling but the steamed wonton wrapper was too thick and gummy. The shrimp Spring Rolls ($1.35 each) were huge and had a very good taste, but again the wrapper was too thick and more reminiscent of an egg roll than what should have been a light, crispy spring roll. The Fried Shrimp ($6.95) were tempura battered and large, but not memorable.
The star of the platter was the BBQ Beef (four for $4.25). The remarkably tender, well-seasoned beef was glazed with a sweet barbecue sauce that left me craving more. As an added bonus, in the center of the plate was a good-sized portion of fresh pineapple.
My entrée selection, the Triple Crown ($12.95), was a very generous portion of chicken, shrimp and scallops with crisp, fresh vegetables in a light Cantonese white wine sauce. The moist chicken was particularly good, the shrimp were larger than expected and the scallops were cooked well but would have benefited with just a quick sear. There were plenty of vegetables, and the sauce, which was slightly thin, nicely complemented the dish. I opted for steamed white rice, but fried rice can be substituted with all entrées for an additional $1.25. This dish could easily serve two people, as I had enough left over for a good lunch the next day.
My guest made an excellent choice with Brady’s Spicy Fish ($13.95). I have no clue who Brady is, but the crispy filet of sole was delicious. I only got a couple of bites, but I would definitely order this on a return visit. The sole was crunchy on the outside and delicate and flaky on the inside. The menu stated that it was cooked in a spicy Kung Pao sauce, but I could not discern any peanut in the sauce, and to me it tasted more like orange sauce, yet it was nonetheless well reduced and excellent. A similar vegetable medley accompanied this entrée, and again the portion was quite large so as to allow for leftovers.
Overall, the food at Blue Gibbon is definitely a cut above the ordinary. Although there’s nothing to “wow” you, the ingredients are fresh, the portions are big and the prices are right. Oh, and the drinks pack a punch. Blue Gibbon does offer a full bar and has many of the typical “exotic” drinks that you would expect. Whether you dine in or carry out, Blue Gibbon is a good, reliable choice. ©
Go: 1231 Tennessee Ave., Paddock Hills
Hours: 11 a.m. -10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; noon- 11 p.m. Saturday; and noon-10 p.m. Sunday
Entrée Prices: $7.50-$14.95
Red Meat Alternatives: Many, including several vegan dishes