General Tso Chicken at the Palais Imperial Restaurant in Ottawa
After a really abysmal experience with the General Tso’s Chicken at the Sushi Village in Ottawa, I visited the nearby Palais Imperial Restaurant a few days later and sampled their version. I am happy to report that this particular rendition fell to the other end of the scale in terms of quality, and, aside from one small flaw, was truly excellent.
I should note that the full name of this restaurant is the ‘Royal Thai & Palais Imperial Restaurant’. They occupy two floors, with the Palais Imperial section being downstairs, but you can order from the separate Thai and Chinese menus on either floor. I have visited many, many times over the years, and generally I just go for their Dim Sum dishes, but occasionally I have ordered main dishes and, as with their General Tso’s Chicken, I have been favorably impressed.
By the way, I gave a brief overview of the basic General Tso form in my review of the General Tso’s Chicken at the Oriental House. I won’t repeat all of that here, but I mentioned that there is a classic Chinese style, and more westernized versions. The General Tso Chicken at the Palais Imperial fell into the former category.
Here, the chicken (probably thigh meat) was very juicy, in large chunks, and was deep fried in a very light batter coating. The sauce was very thick and, while sweet, it was not overly so. It was, I would say, more ‘Oyster Sauce sweet’, rather than, say, the more cloying sweetness of Hoisin Sauce.
The sauce also had a tang to it, probably from rice vinegar, and there were a fair number of scorched red chillies throughout. These chillies (Thai, or African Birdseye) were indeed hot when bitten in to, but they only lent the sauce a sort of background heat, somewhere about the level as if a splash of Tabasco had been added.
The only criticism I had here was that the dish had just a bit of a burnt taste to it and there were black flecks on the chicken. This was not, I am fairly sure, from scorching the chilies, nor was the taste intended, but I rather think that the oil being used had not recently been changed. A bit of a scorched chili taste is the mark of a good General Tso’s Chicken, but this was bitter and not desirable, and a bit disappointing. It didn’t spoil dish at all, but it was an unfortunate flaw in an otherwise excellent rendition of the classic form.