Narcisse Champagne lounge and Tea room held a baptism by bubbly as it were with their official Grand opening on January 27th amidst fanfare befitting North Scottsdale’s newest “it” spot.
Owners were on hand to greet guests, explain the concept and give tours to hundreds of VIP guests and Local Media personalities alike while champagne flowed freely courtesy of several distributors.
Tasty hors de ouveries, miniatures of full sized menu items, including white prawn with sweet and sour papaya, mint and chile and a tender ribeye with beech mushrooms, pearl onions and horseradish mashed potatoes were passed by attractive staff attired in risqué garb.
Not being one who frequently partakes in the bubble it was nice having knowledgeable people on hand to answer questions about several of seventy-five varietals available for purchase by the glass and to keep my champagne flute full.
Wandering throughout the establishment was a performance actress who I can only surmise was meant to be a bubble, uttering not a word nor offering anything more than a blank gaze, this apparition in white amused and confused guests, offering them bits of cloth and balls of cotton from her stash (I’m still unsure where she fit in but suffice to say, she was cool).
•a bit of advice-Never return an empty champagne bottle to the ice bucket upside-down! It shows an utter lack of respect for the prestigious beverage you have just consumed, and worse yet, a tactless disregard for the companions you have just shared it with.
With the opening of Narcisse, the “Beautiful people” of North Scottsdale have a new place to see, be seen and enjoy what once caused the blind Benedictine Monk Dom Pierre Perrignon to exclaim “come quickly brothers, I’m tasting stars!”
Chinese is one of my very favorite cuisines and with few exceptions, seems to be missing in the Greater Phoenix area. Naturally, when someone suggested that I check Jimmy Woo’s out on their grand opening night, I couldn’t resist.
With two friends (Hipster Chris Galli and Vegetarian Kirti Dwivedi), I stand waiting to be seated in Woo’s hip bustling dining room which in my opinion is the antithesis of the typical quiet, somber Chinese restaurant that seems to be the norm.
The decor is bright and stylish, the inside out bar serves as both focal point and gathering place for those enjoying a happy hour drink or waiting to dine. There are design elements to draw the eye (a giant, functional abacus occupies one full wall), attractive, attentive staff and the occasional fireball from the kitchen, I’m getting hungry!
In short order my party was seated in what for Foodies was the absolute best table in the house, a booth centered on the open kitchen where we could see the important stuff, the food being prepared!
First up, a cup of wonton soup. I found the wonton to be well made, properly tender, tasty and the broth, once soy sauce and Chinese hot mustard were added, was quite good (the addition of crunchy deep fried noodles or wonton skins would have made this soup great.
Next up came an order of pork dumplings which are served either steamed or fried (steamed in our case), these were simply beautiful and quite tasty as well alongside a small dish of traditional soy based dipping sauce. (our resident vegetarian enjoyed her 5 spice tofu lettuce wraps while the Hipster and I demolished the dumplings).
A large, steaming bowl of fat egg noodles covered in a dark sauce with lots of ground chicken dubbed ‘Woo’s noodles’ arrived next to my delight, the Hipster and I dug in (after the appropriate photographs had been taken of course). The brown sauce was rich and flavorful though a bit sweeter than I expected. (I would have preferred a little more heat as well).
Arriving next were Kung Pao vegetables and General Woo’s chicken. The veggies were a mix of al dente broccoli, peppers and bamboo shoots stir fried with a spicy brown sauce and chopped peanuts. This dish was quite tasty with the right balance of crunch and softness, spice and sweetness.
General Woo’s chicken is the house version of General Tso’s chicken and my favorite dish of the night. Large chunks of crispy white meat chicken bathed in a sweet and spicy sauce seemingly evaporated before our eyes!
Our final entrée was Kung Pao shrimp and I’m sad to say that though it was good, this was my least favorite dish so far. Those who know me well know of my affinity for bold, spicy food and I really expected this shrimp dish to fit the bill but it was just lacking in the spice department. A quick conversation with Chef Andrew Nam revealed that the peppers used in the dish were not as hot as he would have liked and that a new purveyor was being sought.
Dessert followed and consisted of Fried wonton skins filled with raspberry or warm chocolate cream and dusted with powdered sugar, these were just the right note to end the evening on. I slowly savored each bite of the one chocolate wonton that I allowed myself (after all, there’s my waistline to consider…) The lite, crunchy treat was just what I was looking for and well worth ordering.
In all I had a good meal, my dining companions and I were treated to great service and good, solid Chinese cuisine. Once Woo’s gets through it’s opening pains and adjusts a few minor things, it’ll be a solid choice for the Old Town lunch crowd, a dinner destination and a definite social hot spot.
Side note, on my way out of the restaurant I walked past the kitchen and there before me in all their glory were beautifully prepared spare ribs. Stacked lovingly on their plate, an order or Char Siu Short ribs awaited delivery to a lucky diner. I will certainly not leave Woo’s again without eating an order of these, (more on that later).