Temple, a new gourmet Chinese restaurant in Red Bank, was recommended to me by multiple diners, multiple times. When more than a few of my friends stress that I must visit certain locations, I have to take their word for it.
I went last night for the first time, hungry, with two friends and two bottles of red wine. Any time I go out with a group, we always order with the idea that we will share a family plate in the center, so I can decide what I want to order next time. Most entrees average about $20 here, but for specialities of course its more (think Peking Duck slow roasted in a homemade plum sauce or the 2.5 pound Red Snapper).
To start, we opted to split the Filet Mignon egg roll and pan seared pork dumplings. The only way to describe these choices are that its your basic Chinese food favorites with much better ingredients -- and your palate will be able to tell.
I also wanted to try the Chicken Soong with Lettuce Wraps (finely diced chicken and vegetables wrapped in fresh lettuce cups), the BBQ Back Back Ribs, Pepper Calamari (quick-fried and sauteed with hot asian peppers), and the Crispy Creamy Spicy Shrimp served with scallion pancakes.
They offer your traditional Wonton soup and Hot and Sour soup, but also feature more unique soups like Chicken Egg Corn, Crabmeat Asparagus, and "Temple Soup", made with chicken, beef and shrimp in a homemade chicken broth.
The rest of the menu is equally delectable, and it's incredibly hard to make a decision. I wanted to try to Crispy Steak Tangerine, served lightly battered and sauteed with a tangerine glaze, but I opted for the Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken. It was a very generous serving of sauteed chicken, pineapples, peppers and a side of rice (I selected brown rice over white, as they offer a choice). The Crispy Peppercorn Chicken sounded good as well, quick-fried and tossed with salt, pepper and scallions.
My friends ordered the Pepper Steak, sliced with peppers, and your traditional Beef and Broccoli dish -- but much better quality than you would get for your standard takeout. All in all, all our meals were incredibly satisfying, but there is so much more I want to try!
I had the Grand Marnier Prawns highly recommended to me, as well as the Jumbo Prawns with dry sauteed string beans or eggplant (if you like shellfish). I would also try the Velvet Chicken served as classic sitr-fry with seasonal vegetables in a light rice wine sauce, the 24 oz. Angus Beef NY Strip Steak served with seasonsal vegetables and pineapple cashew fried rice, and the Shrimp with Lobster Sauce cooked with a garlic white wine sauce, crisp water chestnuts, peas and egg flower -- to name a few.
If you are in the mood for fantastic food with enough leftovers for tomorrow's lunch, I strongly suggest you visit.
They also offer coffee and desserts, including banana flambe -- I was tempted, but too full!
Their lunch menu is a great deal as well, served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Regular hours are Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Temple will be celebrating Chinese New Year all day on Monday, Jan. 23. Go ring in the year of the dragon, Red Bank-style!
For more information, visit templegourmet.com or call 732-212-8858.