Sitting down to dine at T.S. Ma in Upper Montclair, one may wonder how such a cozy restaurant has won the Best of Essex Gold Medal for Chinese Food eight years in a row. However, as soon as the friendly staff arrive with the first plates, all doubts will be dispelled.
Start with the Steamed Juicy Pork Mini Dumplings (6 per serving, $6.95). Not only is the presentation delightful, the little “gifts” are delicious. To eat, place the dumpling on a Chinese spoon, bite the top and taste the distinctive broth within the dumpling. The dining experience is fun and extremely tasty.
When it comes to the main course, T.S. Ma’s food is so good and portions so generous that it is impossible to go wrong. Love sweet or subtly spicy food? Choose the Pork Ribs Shanghai Style ($17.50). The pork short ribs are braised longer than four hours and served over vegetables, including Chinese broccoli (which is sweeter than broccoli rabe). The sauce, while plentiful, enhances rather than masks the meat’s amazing flavor.
Craving something lush? The Crispy Shrimp with Honey Walnuts ($18.95) will not disappoint. The dish features honey-citrus mayonnaise dressing covering lightly-fried shrimp and topped with crunchy honey-glazed walnuts. The contrast with the walnuts makes the entire entrée pop.If citrus is tickling your palette, Tangerine Fish ($16.95) is a perfect option. Fried flounder is enhanced by a flavorful tangerine sauce, which does not overpower the delicate fish. Bits of tangerine rind provide a gratifying zing.
For those who desire a noodle dish, Mai Fun—a fine rice noodle—is an excellent selection, and it’s gluten-free as well. With white meat chicken ($7.95 small/$9.95 large), this entrée combines the noodles and meat with carrots, egg and other Chinese vegetables for a delectable result. Cooked in Canola Oil, this brilliantly cohesive offering is a yummy alternative to lo mein.
Dessert at T.S. Ma should not be overlooked. Even for those who do not drink green tea, the Green Tea Premium Ice Cream ($3.50) will end the meal perfectly. This refreshing ice cream has a creamy consistency that tastes like vanilla with subtle green tea undertones. It will ensure a smile upon leaving the restaurant.
T.S. Ma has been operating from this location for over ten years. In addition to its packed restaurant tables, it has a very brisk take-out/delivery business. But make it a point to dine in periodically—the waiter may just teach you a new trick about how to more easily savor a Scallion Pancake. With a wink, Anthony, manager, notes that he will do whatever he can to “make our guests happy.”
Written By Rhonda L. Rivera
Photos By Dan Epstein
Originally Published in Suburban Essex Magazine April 2017