China Star (Monona)
The specs: #00819
111 River Pl., Monona 53716
Official web site
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JM ate the moo shu pork with orange soda.
Nichole ate the wor sue opp with hot tea.
We split some crab rangoon and each had some complementary chicken rice soup.
The bill was $26, or $13/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave China Star a B- (see our grading rubric).
China Star is the new name for Ruby's, a Monona institution. This was our first visit, and while the paper reported that little had changed about Ruby's beloved menu, we can't say either way.
What we can say is that China Star's chicken rice soup has a reputation. More than one walk-in/carry-out regular came in asking, "You still got chicken rice soup today?" Complimentary cups came out before our meal, and it was good. Intensely flavorful, pretty salty, and very peppery, the soup used ground chicken and white rice to good effect - this is definitely a soup to put in your winter cold and flu recuperation toolkit.
Also good were the crab rangoon, on the savory side. It's rare to get a precisely folded crab rangoon, and these were cute. Our only quibble was that we ran out of sauce early.
The entrees we chose were not the super-best. The moo shu pork was both salty and bland, and there was a sauce mix-up (dumpling sauce instead of hoisin, though they gave us a cup of the right stuff for the leftovers).
The wor sue opp was a new experience for us. We looked over the menu for something unique, and the server went above and beyond helping us choose, even calling up photos of various dishes on her phone. She was enthusiastic about the wor sue opp, so that's what we chose. It could be compared to a duck pie: chopped duck meat in a bready batter about the size of a piece of sandwich bread. It was cut into eighths and served over a pile of stir fried veggies in a gloppy brown sauce, topped with almonds - more hearty winter food, for sure.
A couple of mix-ups can hit any restaurant, so we'd probably cut this Star a break.