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A Soaring Winner

Silver Wing
Robert Scheer

With Flying Colors: Owner Bonnie Shieh adeptly pilots Silver Wing, a new Chinese restaurant in Cupertino Village.

Silver Wing rates high for classy decor, good service and fair prices

By Andrew X. Pham

IN 1986, I MOVED into Alhambra, a corner of the L.A. megalopolis, about the same time the original Silver Wing Restaurant opened its doors a few blocks away. For years, it was a pretty darn good ethnic eatery until restaurant critics stumbled on it and spoiled it for the locals. After they plastered it all over some L.A. and New York newspapers, it was a hassle to get a table at Silver Wing, and many locals, yours truly included, gave up on it altogether. Eleven years later, who would have thought that a sister Silver Wing Restaurant would pop up right here in the heart of Cupertino.

Silver Wing recently landed in the all-Asian shopping mall on the corner of Homestead and Wolfe Road. A world of difference separates this restaurant from the original. First, this new place makes by far the classier statement. Ribboned in textured wallpaper and hemmed in dark wood, the dining room is formal enough for a business dinner. Lunch and weekend dim sum are more casual without the full complement of linens.

Second, the service is very good, attentive and professional. Our waiter even asked us about the order in which we would like to have our food. Also, we were not rushed through our appetizers, and the main entrées weren't haphazardly delivered, as in many Chinese diners. Third, the prices are reasonable and the menu is comprehensive.

Equipped with large appetites, we started the meal with gusto by ordering a bao-bao tray ($9.95 for two). A round, three-tiered wooden tray, impressively rendered with brass lion heads and topped by a mini flaming grill, took center stage on our table and kept us interested for nearly half an hour. The dish takes a shotgun approach to appetizers: egg rolls, fried shrimp, fried wonton, beef skewers, BBQ spare ribs and crab cheese puffs. These came with a complement of three sauces, hot mustard, sweet-sour and black bean. The beef skewers looked like diminutive Zulu battle shields.

All these succulent morsels left us in a minor quandary: Everything except the ribs and beef skewers were fried, best eaten ASAP. Which to eat first? No problem--we sprinted through the starters, dancing our way around the rotating tray until it was empty.

Infatuated with soy bean foods, we ordered a Yangchow dry bean curd ($9.95). Shredded, it looked like angel hair pasta the color of wheat flour; however, the texture is firm, a little like string cheese. Here, the quality of the bean curd was supposed to carry the dish--and it did. The light soy sauce merely dressed this flourless pasta to keep it from drying out. In the company of steamed rice, its simple flavor spliced well with our other choice, a moderately spicy vegetable dish, "dry-cooked" string beans ($6.95) with confetti of soy-candied garlic.

One specialty we were particularly fond of was cat's ear noodles ($6.95). Versions of this "pasta" can be seen in China's countryside and all over Southeast Asia, wherever there are Chinese. In its most basic version, a half-inch-thick cake of white flour is cut into bite-size squares and then fried on a griddle in oil or lard with scallions, scrambled eggs and soy sauce. In Silver Wing's more sophisticated version, the dough was sliced into "cat's ears"--rolled-up triangles--and stir-fried with scrambled eggs, bamboo shoots, pork, crunchy cloud ear mushrooms and vegetables.

Dessert was sweet red bean cream in a crunchy phyllo ($5, serves two), fried and cut into squares, very fitting with jasmine tea, very Chinese. Specialties that we enjoyed on other occasions included kung pao four delight (crab meat, shrimp, scallop and fish with vegetables in a spicy sauce), Peking duck and spicy braised shrimps.

Even in its hidden, back-of-the-mall location, Silver Wing is quickly cultivating a following of devotees sensitive to quality cuisine and good service. Here's hoping those darned restaurant critics won't stumble onto it.

Silver Wing
Cuisine: Szechuan and Yangchow
Ambiance: Semi-Formal with casual Chinese attitude
Menu: $4-$11, specialties $13-$19
Hours: Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11am-2:30pm, Sat.-Sun. 10am-3pm; dinner: daily 5-9pm
Extras: Full dim sum menu for Sat.-Sun. brunch.
Address: 10885 N. Wolfe Road, Cupertino
Phone: 408/873-7228

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From the Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 1997 issue of Metro.

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