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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

Mark Pi's hits the mark

MARK PI'S CHINA GATE 3020 E. 3rd St. 323-1688

I love Chinese food. Until recently, I was having trouble finding good Chinese food in Bloomington. Most Chinese restaurants here offer up a tasteless, greasy, mess in the guise of Chinese food. After a year and a half of eating my way through dismal excuses of Chinese food, I think I have finally found a spectacular Chinese restaurant in Bloomington. \nMark Pi's China Gate is the definitive place to get Chinese in Bloomington. The atmosphere seemed to be that of a generic Chinese restaurant theme. Like many other Chinese restaurants, right inside the door is the obligatory fish tank, next to the glass dragon panels, next to the paper walls. The key with decorations of this nature is to avoid going overboard and thus looking tacky. Mark Pi's does a good job of avoiding this. The lighting was pleasant, and the room quiet enough to have a conversation. \nThe menu was surprisingly diverse. While the standard Chinese fare was listed, quite a few dishes seemed unique to Mark Pi's. My companion tried one such dish, a beef with peppers, mushrooms and broccoli in a brown sauce. I opted for a more standard dish, kung pow chicken. \nBefore we got to the main course, I decided to get a spring roll. Served with really good duck sauce and mustard, the role was a little bit on the greasy side. I was disappointed by the spring roll, mainly because the shell was soggy. The inside was ordinary, somewhat bland and lifeless.\nThe main courses blew me away. My kung pow was some of the best Chinese I have ever had. If you are not familiar with the dish, kung pow chicken is bite sized pieces of chicken with peanuts, peppers, and carrots in a Szechwan sauce. Szechwan food is meant to be spicy, and Mark Pi's had that part down. One bite had me reaching for rice and water to cool my tongue. The kung pow was delicious, the vegetables cooked so they maintained their natural flavor but still picked up the taste from the sauce. The sauce was extremely good, spicy Chinese peppers gave it the extra kick needed to elevate it to the next level. Also important to note about the sauce was the fact that it was not overpowering. It allowed the natural tastes of the vegetables and chicken to speak for themselves. The chicken was perfect, very nice and tender. I don't think there is any way to improve upon Mark Pi's take on this dish.\nMy companion's dish was equally good. The beef's main appeal was that it was not chewy or greasy. The sauce, which seemed to contain a healthy amount of soy sauce and wine, complemented the meat nicely. The vegetables were again firm and tasty. Each bite was better then the next, my companion was extremely satisfied by this dish. \nThe dessert menu is small. Though the mud pie sounded really good, I was too full to attempt such an endeavor and I opted for something called phoenix balls. Phoenix balls are pastries wrapped around a hard fruit-like substance. Though the almond taste was refreshing, the centers were cold. My companion and I spent more time trying to figure out what we were eating rather than enjoying the pastries. Perhaps they are an acquired tasted, but I found the phoenix balls to be a culinary disgrace and would not recommend them.\nDespite bad appetizers and desserts, I would enthusiastically recommend Mark Pi's China Gate to anybody. The main courses are just that good.

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