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.
Just a little bit of chili oil would have made it a very good version.
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