Azu - Where's the White Meat?

One beautiful Saturday afternoon, I met fellow Tallahassee blogger Brie, who writes Le Grand Fromage, at Azu - Lucy Ho's latest concept restaurant. If it was anything like Masa, one of my favorite joints in town, I would be totally psyched. However, I knew it was the replacement restaurant for the former Lucy Ho's located near the I-10 overpass and Kaiser University. Hubby and I had eaten there once when we first moved here because we had a hankerin' for some good Chinese food. Sadly, all of our chicken dishes were made with dark meat and hubby's tummy didn't feel so good after our visit (insert frownie face here). So, I was hoping that with Azu would come some major improvements.

The first improvement was their location - Azu is more centrally located off of Apalachee Parkway. The second improvement was the interior of the restaurant. All I can remember about Lucy Ho's were some sticky vinyl tablecloths and flimsy furniture. Azu is decked out in substantial mahogany wood tables and cherry wood chairs. The wood paneled floor, beige and maroon walls and colorful accents also add to the class of the joint. And I personally love the bamboo stalk and Samurai wall. Just cause it makes me smile. I mean, come on, look at those little guys!

Now down to brass tacks, or wonton soup, in this case. It was time to sample the food. Brie and I both decided to order a lunch bento box because of the amount of food we would be able to sample. Each bento box comes with a vegetable, spring roll, noodles, fried rice and side dish of the day, which today was crab rangoon - all for just $8.00! For my bento box, I selected the General Tsao's Chicken and Brie chose the Cashew Chicken.

On the whole, our meals were delicious. The crab rangoon was crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The shells of the spring rolls were light and crispy, the veggies inside were flavorful and the sweet and sour sauce was perfectly balanced with a tart kick. The noodles were coated in a light oil that didn't weigh the dish down, and the fried rice (while not extraordinary) was respectable. I was delightfully happy eating my General Tsao's chicken, which was slightly sweet, slightly spicy, with a pleasantly crunchy batter, just the way I like it - until I cut one of the bigger pieces in half. It was then that I noticed I was eating dark meat. Now, I know that some people genuinely like dark meat, but I am certainly not one of them. To me, it's just a bit slimier, saltier and somehow gamey-er than white meat. Now, Brie's cashew chicken seemed to be white meat - and I'm assuming that's because, unlike mine, it wasn't hidden beneath any batter. I then began to notice that quite a few of my pieces were also slightly fatty. I'm not sure why Azu couldn't spring for all-white meat chicken in ALL of their dishes, but I have to say it tainted my experience just a bit. Brie, on the other hand, proceeded to consume all of her cashew chicken without one complaint.

All in all, I had a rather enjoyable lunch. We got a lot of food, for just a little price. The service was outstanding. I got to meet a fellow blogger and friend with whom I've been exchanging blog comments and emails for almost a year. And I got my Chinese food fix. It's worth mentioning that Azu also has a rather sizeable sushi and sashimi menu as well (just like Masa), which I've sampled during other visits and it holds up to the standard that Masa has set. Now, if I could just convince them to stop using dark chicken meat - we'd be BFFs.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - B+ (I'm knocking them for the dark meat)
Presentation - A
Service - A
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
3220 Appalachee Parkway
Tallahassee FL 32311

Azu on Urbanspoon


Brie: Le Grand Fromage June 30, 2010 at 8:46 AM  

haha, you certainly captured my ability to eat! i had a great lunch with you and definitely want to do it again! i agree the chicken was a little fatty, but i haven't been to an Americanized Chinese restaurant where this wasn't true. those types of restaurants just seem less concerned with trimming their meats. my dish was all white meat, which i also prefer. great post! :)

Magnolia July 1, 2010 at 6:43 AM  

Hmm. I wouldn't be so hard on the dark meat. It's really a fairly recent American thing to only want what is essentially the least flavorful part of the chicken (the breast); the restaurant may not have been being cheap. What seems gamey is actually, I suspect, just "chickeny" which is a taste we've been trained not to like by giant, factory-farmed birds. Ditto for America's hatred for bone-in chicken-- in a lot of preparations you actually need the bones to give the sauce the proper consistency (gelatin in the bones). Dark meat likewise is good for preparations that require long cooking because it IS fattier (not always a bad thing) and will become tender with braising rather than drying out as breast meat would. The same holds true for grilling chicken-- there is nothing worse than a grilled boneless, skinless breast of chicken. Ick. Dry, flavorless.

Tally Foodie July 5, 2010 at 6:16 PM  

Magnolia - You brought up some good points. However, I went to lunch at Masa the other day and ordered their bento box with Masa's Chili Chicken (their version of General Tso's) and it was ALL white meat. And it wasn't dry at all. If Lucy Ho can do it at Masa, I say they can do it at Azu as well!

downtown guy July 20, 2010 at 2:18 PM  

Factory farm breast meat is the chicken equivalent of tofu - low fat protein with little flavor of its own. I suspect they use dark meat in some dishes because they (and many of us) prefer it.

About this blog

This blog is dedicated to giving you honest reviews of local restaurants in Tallahassee and the surrounding area. I won't hold any punches, you'll hear about it all - the good, the bad and the (hopefully infrequent) inedible!

This blog was written from July 2009 - August 2010 and is now retired. I currently live in Sarasota, FL...stay tuned for more on my adventures there!