1231 Tennessee Ave.
The crossroads of Paddock and Tennessee Avenue isn't exactly glamorous. Situated amongst the industrial buildings is, however, a very nice Asian restaurant. From the outside, The Blue Gibbon looks as though it has seen better days, but don't let the shabby signage and crumbling, weedy pavement fool you. To steal a line from the rock band Hole, it's "pretty on the inside," with freshly scrubbed floors and shining, dust-free decorations.
While the restaurant's Chinese selections are easily recognizable (Szechuan chicken, sweet & sour pork, Hunan beef) they also offer Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese fare. Many of their noodle dishes can be made vegetarian by substituting tofu in place of a meat-based protein.
All lunch entrees come with a bowl of soup, but none are vegetarian-friendly. Our server substituted a bowl of crispy noodles in place of the soup, and while I'm not sure if this is standard practice, it was a nice touch.
I opted for a vegetarian Vietnamese dish of lightly fried tofu, mushroom, cabbage, carrot, lemongrass and slivered onion in a light, spicy ginger soy sauce over mung bean vermicelli and capped off with a healthy sprinkling of cilantro. The translucent vermicelli was filling yet not uncomfortably so, as is the case with rice-based Asian dishes. It also had just the right amount of heat; opening the sinuses without impairing the tastebuds. Our server cautioned me on the heat when I ordered, so be aware that while this level of spice is right up my alley, others may want to detour to something a little less intense.
Steve chose the chef recommended sesame chicken, which he thought was okay but not noteworthy. As is the trend with area Chinese restaurants, portion sizes are generous at Blue Gibbon and the staff is efficient without hovering. Our server was fantastic; laconic and droll, his dead-pan humor was a refreshing change and I'd go back to the restaurant just for the chance to see him again.
Separate from the main dining room, the restaurant also boasts a full service bar, which has several large, flat screen TVs and a handful of melamine tables, and a banquet room that can accomodate up to 100 guests. The restaurant also runs a very brisk take-away business - one of the busiest I've seen.
Owned and operated by the Kok family since 1983, The Blue Gibbon is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and til 10 p.m. on Sunday.