Chopsticks feels more like a home kitchen than a restaurant. The owner, Christine Chou, loves to experiment and create custom dishes. She visits tables, discusses ingredients and flavors, and then, with a conspiratorial grin, encourage diners to hand over their menus and trust her to come up with something they'll love.
Christine is savvy about nutrition and dietary restrictions. She is a long-time vegetarian, and eager to discuss the health benefits of plant-based diets. The first time we visited, we talked for ten minutes about veganism, Bangor, vegetables, and Chinese spices. We were treated to a huge platter of green beans in a spicy brown sauce, with the most perfectly fried tofu I've ever eaten. Christine stopped by several times to make sure we liked it, and to tell us about the origin of many of the ingredients.
Steamed vegetable dumplings are always the highlight for me. I am a sucker for vegetables wrapped in starch. Stuffed with chives, scallions, and tofu, they're dipped in a tamari, ginger, garlic, and chili sauce.
Christine loves putting a traditional Chinese spin on seasonal vegetables. In the spring, she served us baby eggplant and fiddleheads. Recently, we ordered take-out and asked for two vegan meals, leaving the details up to the chef. She made curried tofu with snow peas, green bell pepper, carrots, bok choy, onion, and mushroom. It was sweet and spicy, with flavors of cumin and coriander in a light sauce.
We also had a simple sauté of bean sprouts and watercress. Grassy, earthy, slightly bitter watercress and a hint of ginger dominated the flavor. The crunchy sprouts and watercress stems felt healthy, perfect for a hot summer night.
As the vegan menu is limited only by the season's vegetables and Christine's imagination, Chopsticks earns four chickpeas.