Rochester’s South Main Street is home to appealing shops and restaurants, almost all of them individually owned, and none are more attractive than the one at 227. The space had seen a succession of restaurants come and go over the past few years, but when Ganbei took over last year, it staked its claim with a stunning redo from the quarry tile floors to the huge slanted mirrors on the walls and the balconied space above.
Its high-ceilinged interior, done up in Mandarin red and colorful Asian pottery, carvings and paintings, is artfully lit by big white lanterns and indirect spotlights (a light level that other restaurants might emulate). It is arguably the area’s best-looking Chinese restaurant, and its amenities include a well-stocked bar.
It’s also a restaurant that aims directly at the non-Asian palate. It is unabashedly American Chinese, serving the dishes that have become popular over the years with a wide spectrum of diners. And there’s something refreshing about that, when many claim to be authentic but fail.
Don’t look for “authentic” here, if by that you mean spicy salted eel and stir-fried lotus roots. That’s not what Ganbei is about. Instead, it offers familiar dishes including the beloved trio of almond boneless chicken, General Tso’s chicken and sesame chicken, all nicely plated and served by a courteous staff. While chicken stars across the menu at both lunch and dinner, many dishes may also be had with shrimp or beef as options.
There are familiar soups including eggdrop, won ton and a worthy version of hot and sour that for some is going to need a dash of hot sauce to bring it up to speed. A particularly appealing entrée is Kung Pau, a mix of crisp vegetables including celery, carrots, peapods as well as peanuts, and it’s best with shrimp or beef. Other recommended dishes include Mongolian beef and the appetizer of pork filled potstickers. Skip the ordinary egg roll that is served with entrees and get the vegetable spring rolls instead.
The word Ganbei is the equivalent of “Cheers!” And while the major toast here is to the designers who put together the stunning atmosphere, the kitchen rates a share, too. Admit it: There’s something very comforting about Chinese fare, American style. Especially when it comes with a happy hour.
Ganbei Chinese Restaurant and Bar
227 S. Main, Rochester
Rating:2 stars (out of 4)
Hours:11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.,
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 3-9 p.m. Sun.
soups $4.50-$9, lunch entrees $8-$16,
dinner entrees $13-$17
Credit cards:All major
Parking:Rear lot and street
Wheelchair access:No barriers