Our most memorable visit to City Chopsticks in Petaluma was the time we took our Rotary exchange student from Paraguay there for dinner. It was the first time he had eaten Chinese food or even tried using chopsticks, and it was great fun introducing him to some of the things we take for granted here in the melting pot that is the United States.
City Chopsticks is located in the Plaza shopping center near the corner of North McDowell and East Washington Street. The restaurant is run by brothers David and John Lu, who have owned City Chopsticks for about five years. They are experienced restaurateurs, having run another Chinese restaurant nearby before this one.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, and they are even open on most holidays.
When we dined there for lunch, we ordered off of the regular menu, not noticing that there were lunch specials in the back of the menu, because we each had a particular dish in mind. However, the waiter was very nice, and brought us complimentary hot and sour soup. The soup was delicious, with just the right amount of spice, and served piping hot as well, a welcome start on a blustery cold day.
After the soup, we tried the chicken lettuce wraps ($11.75) appetizer, which was a huge portion, more than enough for the four of us, and we even had to ask for additional lettuce leaves because there was so much filling. The dish had plenty of chicken in it, without a lot of fillers that one sometimes finds at other restaurants. To eat them, take a prepared lettuce leaf, add some hoisin sauce if you wish, spoon in the minced cooked chicken with mushrooms, water chestnuts and green onions, and wrap it up, taco or burrito style. Do not miss this dish.
We must have been in the mood for finger food, because the next dish that arrived was the Mu-Shu pork ($11.25.) Mu-shu is a combination of cabbage, carrots, egg and green onions, stir-fried with a protein of your choice, and then served with very thin, translucent pancakes. Wraps the piping hot mixture into a pancake, adding a touch of hoisin sauce of you wish, and roll it up like a soft taco or skinny burrito. This is an excellent dish for children, because it is fun to eat, and does a good job of disguising the vegetables. City Chopsticks offers pork, chicken, prawns, salmon or vegetable.
Next came the spicy basil duck ($14.95), which we really wanted to like, but it did not quite live up to the menu description. The menu said it was boneless duck, but there were bones in some of it, and there was a lot of flabby skin and not much duck. Additionally it was labeled as spicy, but it had large pieces of jalapeño pepper that did not infuse the dish with spice, and those pieces were really spicy on their own and too large to pair with the duck.
The next time we were in, we chose a different duck dish, and I have since had a conversation with the owner about bones in menu items labeled boneless. He assured me he will review this issue with his staff to see that this kind of confusion does not happen in the future.