I’ve mentioned before on CTbites how difficult it is for me to find a solid Asian takeout spot in Norwalk. As you can imagine, that statement resulted in some comments, texts, singing telegrams, and even a carrier pigeon showed up with suggestions.
“But have you tried…”
Yes. Yes, I have. If it’s in Norwalk, I HAVE TRIED IT.
What I meant, specifically, was a Chinese takeout restaurant. Not something that would cost me $50. I know that that’s something that’s becoming increasingly more difficult, finding tasty takeout for $15-$30 nearby. If you must know, my go-to for a handful of years—and on a weekly basis— was Red Bean Asian Bistro. It was fresh, the sauces weren’t goopy, and their lunch special was one of the best deals in town.
Recently, I’ve enjoyed Chinese or Asian fusion in other areas. That does nothing for my quest of finding one that I really like close to home, but it does hold me over until I do.
That brings me to the point of this post. Lulu Chinese in Greenwich is one that recently opened. I knew I’d like it before I even broke the seal on the door. I knew this because it’s owned by restauranteur Jody Pennette, who was behind the WUJI restaurants (Greenwich, Rye, Scarsdale) and China White before that. I didn’t have the chance to visit China White, but I was a fan of WUJI, having dined at the Greenwich location a few times.
Unfortunately, all the WUJI branches shuttered because Pennette wanted to retool the brand. Fast forward to now. The current iteration of it all is Lulu, almost the same concept at WUJI but with some friendlier prices. China White fans told me that the prices are reminiscent of that spot as opposed to WUJI. What’s the same is it’s still an upscale version of your neighborhood Chinese takeout spot. They cook with local produce, organic meat, fresh caught fish, and use absolutely NOTHING artificial.
The faithful at either of Pennette’s previous endeavors will be excited to see family style versions of an air-dried, crispy skin Peking duck, and a roast chicken prepped similarly. You can’t go wrong with either juicy bird. Don’t choose, get both if you have eating help.
Other nods to the past establishments come in the form of fried rice. There’s a $24 poached lobster option with some crunchy rice grains or you can opt for the much easier-on-the-wallet (and tastier, imo) spicy fried rice with a runny egg on top.
Where Lulu really excels is in some of their more affordable dishes. I’m not trying to come across as a cheap fuck here, but to my earlier point about Chinese food and cost, I don’t think anyone wants to drop a couple hundred it. It’ll cost a touch more than your Chinese delivery place, but you can eat here without having to start an Oscar Mayer Bologna on Wonder Bread diet in the days that follow. What I’m saying is… “DIM SUM.”
Most of the small stuff at Lulu can be had for $6-$10. What I’d urge you to do is bring friends, share, order a bunch. Start with plump, Berkshire pork soup dumplings, and salty, fried bites like the scallion pancakes, spring rolls, and cream cheese stuffed crab Rangoon. They’re all winners but dare I say that a Chicken McNugget won me over? There’s a fried chicken bao bun that’s eerily similar to the McDonald’s delicacy. I immediately was transported to my teen years of crushing a 10 or 20 piece and that’s not a bad thing. Pennette mentioned that that’s kind of the point.
If there is one splurge worthy app, it’s the ribs. They’re your Chinese takeout sticky ribs with a heritage pork upgrade. They’re sweet. They’re sticky. They’re kinda messy. And they’ll fall off the bone with a bite and a minor tug of your teeth. I’d like to be alone with a dozen.
If you don’t fill up on all that, keep it going with an Americanized Chinese staple! Chicken & broccoli, fiery pepper steak, tangerine beef (seriously, say “YES!” to this one), they’ve got all that! The thing is, it’s flat-out better than what we’re used to. None of it is cloyingly sweet, the sauces aren’t thick like old motor oil, and I promise you won’t even make a stereotypical cat or dog joke!
But if I had to choose ONE thing? Sesame fucking chicken. The crisp, the tender white meat, it’s sweet, kinda sour, the toasted sesame seeds. It’s spot on. When I think of Chinese food in America it’s between sesame chicken and General Tso’s. I’ll even quote Drake when I tell you that it’s the “best I’ve ever had.”
All jokiness aside, I’m a fan of Lulu as I was of its predecessor, I just hope it doesn’t meet the same fate. If you’re sitting there wondering why Pennette keeps trying the concept, you aren’t alone. I asked him. His reply? “It’s my white whale, it’s my Moby Dick,” he said. “I’ll do it forever.”
Lulu is easily one of the best Chinese food concepts in our area.
Now if I could get a Lulu in Norwalk, I’d be all set.
55 Lewis Street; Greenwich, CT
(203) 861-1988; http://lulu2u.com/