Review: Wu's

Turning up the heat in Westerly
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  June 8, 2010

When I heard that Wu’s was the favorite restaurant of a vegetarian acquaintance, I thought we might give it a try. That feeling was strengthened by the fact that the chef at Wu’s created a warm Easter dinner for more than 60 local residents who were refugees from the spring flooding, staying at a nearby shelter.

Wu’s | 55 Beach St, Westerly | 401.348.8029 | Open Sun-Thurs, 11 am-9:30 pm; Fri-Sat, 11 am-10:30 pm | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Access
In truth, good vegetarian Chinese food is one of my favorites, but in the interest of complete disclosure, I’m also very, very picky about Chinese food. All I really want is the taste of fresh vegetables as well as canned ones in the dishes, and I definitely got that from Wu’s spring rolls (like egg rolls, $3.25 for two), with lots of crunchy cabbage and carrots.

Bill ordered Beijing dumplings ($6.75), partly because it continued a dumpling search from a couple years ago and partly because we were curious about the take-out eatery in the same shopping center called Beijing Dumplings. He chose steamed over fried and was very pleased with the nine large dumplings, filled with tender chopped pork and captivating spices. He liked the dipping sauce so much that he asked for more to take home with his leftovers.

We both had soup — his was hot and sour ($2.50) and mine “chicken rice” ($2.50). Bill kept changing the numbers on the soup, but I think they moved as high as 7.5, despite his disappointment in the lack of variety of ingredients. I, too, felt as though the words “chicken” and “rice” amply described my soup, with no evident herbs in the broth.

Wu’s menu is nothing if not expansive, with categories of chop suey, lo mein, chow mein, and egg foo young, as well as the expected variations on fried rice, seafood, chicken, beef, and pork. The menu numbers reach as high as 155, without the 17 “house specialties.” I love the names in the latter section: “lucky seven” (three meats, four veggies), “four happiness” (chicken, shrimp, beef, and pork), “dragon and phoenix” (chicken and shrimp) and “seven stars and a moon” (seven shrimp topped with chicken).

In contrast to those names, which have a distinctly translated-from-the-Chinese sound to them, there are several American touches at Wu’s, including steak with French fries and fish and chips and no chopsticks on the table. After reading the menu and asking tons of questions, we settled on three other dishes: moo shi vegetables ($7.50); “double-sauteed meat” ($9.75); and chicken with garlic sauce ($9.25).

Despite my careful study, I did not realize that I had ordered three hot-spicy items. Yes, they were printed in red and yes, each had a little dancing pepper next to it. But there’s hot and then there’s can’t-taste-anything-else-but-hot. I had not expected the latter from a moo shi dish, accustomed as I am to the tastes of stir-fried veggies and hoisin sauce, rolled into a pancake and eaten like a taco.

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