Last Friday, after a rather long and slightly arduous week, my mother turned to me and said, “Do you want to go out for dinner tonight?”  Since the first rule one learns in college is Never Turn Down A Free Meal, my answer was yes.  And then we proceeded to figure out where to go.

Deciding we needed something new, we settled on Peony, the only restaurant in the Milwaukee area that regularly does dim sum, family run with a open, well-lit atmosphere and diners speaking in Cantonese and English.  Problem is that Peony has one order off the menu instead of bringing a cart to your table, so you really don’t know exactly what you’re getting unless you’ve had it before.  Peony itself is also known for seafood (which swims about in tanks near the front door until you’re ready to eat it)–unfortunately, I don’t like seafood unless it’s firmly meshed in something and not the main taste.

I particularly enjoyed a fried chicken and bean dumpling, and ‘veggie hearts’, which were tender small bok choy sauteed in a soy-based sauce.  The latter was like asparagus without the bitter tinge and the strength, which I can’t stand, and I was glad to find I liked bok choy.  Mom had some fried eggplant with shrimp (which I quite enjoyed because the eggplant was the main flavor) .  We also found a taste for chili paste and might need to buy some.

However, I’m not the sort of person who likes things so bloody sweet, as were the BBQ pork bao (though they were tasty enough), nor am I a particular fan of the taste of sticky rice rolls/lotus leaf rice.  The duck was also mercilessly dry and the crepes too thick, but that could just be personal preference.  This was made up for by a wee free dessert square that reminded me of tiramisu.

Our local Cantonese-American restaurant doesn’t do this type of food, but nor does it do potstickers.  Peony doesn’t do them either, to my dismay.  Still, the experience was a good one, the price was right ($30 for the two of us, and I had $5 sake), and Mom says she’d go back.  Perhaps I would too, if I knew to look for pork buns.

Now, for potstickers in Milwaukee…or do I have to make my own?

Peony is located at 11120 W. Bluemound Road in Wauwatosa, WI 53226.  Their phone number is (414) 443-6455, and they’re open until 10 most nights.

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