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We recently had the pleasure of experiencing a new addition to the many fine Nanking restaurants throughout the Tri-State area.  Spectacularly showcased amidst polished marble, brass Buddha statues and rich, red lighting, the restaurant shines like a jewel in the crown on the sixth floor of Bally’s in Atlantic City.

Their subtle use of space and lighting creates an atmosphere of sophistication and privacy. The restaurant offers a semi-private dining area seating 8 and a private dining room seating 12 which mimic the décor of the main floor.  Beautiful scrolled sheers drape the space and red silk stretched over open boxed lights allow the light to set the tone for a romantic evening. It seems to be the perfect place for a sophisticated dinner meetings as well as intimate dining. If the saying, ‘we eat first with our eyes’ is true at all, Nanking’s first impressions definitely set the mood!

Here, in the calm of its interior, fusion cooking, marrying Thai and Chinese cuisines, is passionately prepared by renowned Chef Krishna Bhandari who, after beginning his career at the Culinary Institute of Nepal, honed his culinary talent in traditional French cooking while engaged by the Meridian Hotel Group in Abu Dabai. Each day at Nanking, he has an abundant supply of fresh vegetables, herbs and seafood, delivered to the kitchen door from local suppliers. Chef Krishna creates menu selections with them that guarantee an incredible blend of spices and cooking styles that are sure to please a variety of palates.

Our meal began with (Anne’s favorite dish of the night!) Lemon Coriander Chicken Soup….a serious rival to any Jewish Grandmother’s Matzo Soup for healing power. It was a bright, tangy and gelatinous chicken stock, steeped in a lavish measure of coriander and green chili with julienned carrots, mushrooms and chicken chunks. We would have paid to just inhale the fragrant goodness emanating from the china bowls that held this magical Malaysian broth.

the LEMON CORIANDER CHICKEN SOUP recipe right from the chef’s mouth:

4C chicken stock

Half lemon

Bunch of coriander/cilantro

2 green chili peppers

Julienned carrot

½ C chopped mushrooms

1C chopped cooked chicken

1 egg

A few minutes after our appetites were teased into attention with the soup, a bevy of appetizers arrived:  Beijing Shrimp, Peking Duck Rolls and Lotus Wheels. While all were delicious, the Lotus Wheels were most impressive, with a crispy coating of onion and chili honey sauce offering a slight chew that really complimented the root vegetable beautifully!

Entrees were extremely well executed. The Hong Kong Beef was a huge hit, prepared with palm sugar, light soy, dry chili peppers and cashews. Fork size morsels of tender beef, slathered in a sweet and sour sauce dotted with whole cashews. The heat was good but not overpowering for those who might be venturing outside their comfort zone exploring chilies. Definitely safe!

The Coriander Garlic Shrimp was laced with pea pods, rainbow peppers, scallions and bamboo shoots, and only lightly hinting of chilies, which created a pleasant heat in the back of our mouths. We totally enjoyed the play on textures from the delicate softness of the shrimp to the crunchy fresh pods, it was a delightful dish.

Seeing our quandary over which dessert to try, General Manager, Akbar Jumani, highly recommended Nanking’s Fried Bananas for dessert.  Wrapping up our meal with this yumminess was just the ticket!  Wonton wrapped, rum infused bananas, arrived beautifully plated in bite size bits (possible beignet influence, Krishna?), drizzled with chocolate and accompanied with the best ice cream we’ve ever tasted. A generous portion to share, two thumbs up!

Speaking of generous.  At Bally’s, we have found a kindred enterprise willing to extend themselves to the local food banks who are really feeling the pressure of drastic increases in requests for aid.  We would like to commend Bally’s for their most recent gift of $10,000 to the Food Bank of NJ, Southern Branch. Money like that buys a lot of meals for families who are struggling here in New Jersey. We hope to see their restaurants featured soon on www.3SquareDeals.com, where you can receive incentives to visit dining establishments that give back to benefit the hungry here in NJ!

Wayne and Anne Galya: Wayne learned how exciting food could be back in Junior High, when the Wood Shop class elective was completely filled and his guidance counselor encouraged the guys who didn’t make the cut to take Cooking, instead.  “Why would I want take a cooking class? Wait a minute…cooking = girls! Heck yeah, sign me up!”  And there began his love affair with all things relating to food, making it, serving it, eating it…. Back in those days (the 70s) Culinary Art Careers had not yet become the rage, so I didn’t consider it an option and when I graduated from high school, I began a 39 year career as an Industrial Electrician.  But, I never lost my passion for the Art, and even produced my own CIA chef, my son Wayne! One of the greatest joys I have is seeing what other chefs are doing, as it challenges me in my own kitchen. Many friends and family have enjoyed the re-creation of dishes that I have savored in France Italy and the Caribbean, as well as regional dishes from across the US.

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