Let me start by saying that I am no expert on “real” Chinese food. I have not been to China, nor are there many sit-down Chinese restaurants in Buffalo that I have been too. HOWEVER, if I had to put money on it, I would say that Red Pepper, located in Amherst, NY across from the Boulevard Mall, is the best kind of Chinese food experience you can get in the area.
Red Pepper immediately distinguishes itself from other local Chinese restaurants by not being a 90% takeout service kind of restaurant like most are. Being that kind of restaurant is not bad at all, but eating my lo mein somewhere other than the comfort of my own home is definitely a good change of scenery.
Like some Asian restaurants, Red Pepper specializes in a second geographic cuisine: Vietnamese. Red Pepper has full Chinese and Vietnamese menus to order from (both of which are supreme and include all of your traditional favorites).
One might ask me:
“Is eating there really that enjoyable per your tone of voice?”
“Yes.” I would ideally reply. “And for four main reasons.”
- The quality and freshness of the food is surprisingly much better than the common American Chinese restaurant. So many times, I have eaten my takeout Chinese and have gotten that “hungry 20 minutes later feeling.” I’m not sure what kind of ingredient causes this, but believe me, you won’t leave hungry.
- Continuing with this not being hungry idea, the meal portions are huge. When you order a dish, a platter of it comes out that can easily feed 2-3 people. So if you want to order the General Tso’s and Beef & Broccoli with Fried Rice and Egg Rolls, be prepared to have many many extras…Totally not a bad thing though!
- The care put into your dining experience is amazing. Not only are the servers kind and attentive, they seem like they genuinely enjoy working there. They never are pushing you out the door and can help you with any questions or requests you might have.
- The reason I keep going back is all of the not expected extras they do. When you sit down at your table, you are immediately given a small pot of black tea and a bowl of those crispy fried noodles with a fresh, very orange-y duck sauce and mustard sauce to dip them in. Also, based on what you order, you get the full experience of the sauces that are traditionally paired with the specific foods. One time when I dined there, there must’ve been six or seven t sauce saucers on the table alone. (They really put in the effort to give you a one of a kind experience.) To end your meal, not only do you get fortune cookies with the check, but also about 3 or 4 fresh orange slices per person. I’m not sure if this is traditional or not, but the extra steps go a long way in my book at least. Even when I have ordered takeout from here, they’ll throw the fried crispy noodles with sauces, fortune cookies and an orange in your bag!
|| FOOD REVIEW ||
When the other Rookie chef and I visited Red Pepper together, we opted for a half Vietnamese, half Chinese meal. That early Spring evening was a little chilly and we wanted something to warm us up. As I said above, hot black tea and fried crunchy noodles with accompanying sauces were brought over. We started with a few appetizers as well: Vietnamese Egg Rolls and Steamed Dumplings.
For our mains, we both got the Vegetarian Phở. Now, I’ve never gotten a veggie one before, but it was so tasty. In a typical bowl of phở [pronounced “fuh”}, you will have a meat based broth with rice noodles and your protein of choice with a side plate of jalapeños, Thai basil, bean sprouts and lime wedges. In this veggie phở, everything was the same, except there was a veggie broth, baby corn, mushrooms, broccoli and tofu. The phở was light but super filling. We both took home a large portion that was enough for a large second meal.
Overall, I am a huge Red Pepper fan and recommend it to anyone looking to have a great Chinese food experience. Since trying it for the first time in the winter, I can’t order from a different Chinese restaurant. I 100% recommend trying it for dinner one night.. or a few nights……..Yes, I have ordered from here twice in one week…