The crispy duck was the best thing I’d tasted in weeks.
The fried rice, with scrambled egg, ham and peas, was the best since spending time in Asia many years ago. The steamed vegetable dumplings were delightful.
I can’t say enough good things about Cicchetteria Cinese Zhu, a sleek but inexpensive Chinese restaurant that recently opened on a canalside street in downtown Vicenza.
I’d previously noticed the Chinese red lanterns outside the restaurant and what looked like happy diners within. That seemed like a good sign.
A taste of some zuppa agro piccante or pollo all’ananas — hot and sour soup and pineapple chicken — would be good, I thought, a nice change from pasta and pizza, from olives and tomatoes and the usual Italian fare.
To have it be so fresh and flavorful was great, and kind of a surprise, particularly at the restaurant’s price point.
Most entrees are 6 euros, as was my delicious crispy duck. How do they get it so crispy, I wondered? First they pour boiling water on the duck to tighten the skin, then let it air dry for several hours, then glaze it with honey or rice wine before cooking it at a high temperature. That’s a lot of prep for 6 euros.
Soups and appetizers are 2.50 to 6 euros. The most expensive dishes — steamed and braised fish — cost 16 euros.
The extensive menu focuses on Cantonese-style cookery, the most popular of China’s many regional cuisines, which includes items like spring rolls, shredded pork in garlic sauce, Chinese casserole or chop suey, mushrooms and bamboo, braised tofu and bok choy. There are several vegetarian dishes. There is also a small bar and a selection of beer and wine.
The interior of the restaurant, which has been open for only a couple of months, is clean and shiny, with a restrained, serene decor. There are white walls and tablecloths, black chairs and touches of red. It’s a good find for anyone in the area looking for an excuse to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which begins Saturday.
The friendly service is also a plus. With no idea what to order, I asked my server for advice. She didn’t demur and say everything is good or it depends on what you like. She made her recommendation, and it was right on.
Address: Contra Barche 22, 36100 Vicenza
Phone: (+39) 0444 310114
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day except Tuesday
Menu: Chinese, Italian and English