There are a lot of Chinese restaurants in the Capital District, but truthfully not many that I love. I tend to group Chinese places into a few buckets, each of which I crave from time to time: greasy and cheap to-go places, Americanized sit-down restaurants (places like P.F. Changs or the Plum Blossom), and more authentic Chinese restaurants (places like Ala Shanghai or Northeast Dumplings House). So when I heard that a new Chinese restaurant was opening in the former location of Debbie’s Kitchen near the corner of Madison and Lark, I was curious to see where exactly it would fall on the spectrum.
Early responses seemed to suggest that the new Timmy’s Chinese was somewhat of a hybrid. The menu is mostly comprised of classic takeout items, but with an experienced chef in the kitchen (I’ve heard a former chef at the neighboring Rain Chinese), the quality is supposedly taken up a few notches. Many have wondered if Albany actually needs another Chinese restaurant – to which I would respond that there’s definitely room for a great takeout style place in the Lark Street area. Or Albany in general – I haven’t found many that I want to return to on a regular basis.
One of my first tests for a takeout Chinese restaurant is always the wonton soup. It’s easy to tell if a kitchen is just mailing it in if the broth is basic, out of a can, yellow stock, and if there’s nothing but wontons swimming around. I love seeing chopped scallions and bits of pork in a more complex broth. So how does Timmy’s stack up?
The first thing I noticed was that the wontons were definitely house-made and high quality. They had delicate shells that gave way to an interesting meat filling, not the same old dense lump of dark meat that you usually find. The broth was light and subtle, without any lingering traces of oil. And there were scallions! But alas, no pork shreds. Not a fatal flaw by any means – the soup still hit most of the marks that I was looking for.
A small order of shrimp with mixed vegetables was also excellent. The shrimp were large and meaty with a perfectly tender cooking execution. The vegetables were standard, and the brown sauce was on the lighter side. One thing I noted about this dish and a few of the others was that they had the right amount of salt. Nothing kills casual Chinese fare more than over-salted, overly thick sauces. Timmy’s seems to excel at still delivering strong flavors without relying solely on the crutch of too much sodium.
We also tried an order of General Tso’s chicken, which had a delightfully thick batter over quality pieces of solid white meat. The sauce was on the sweeter side. I would say that this was definitely one of the better versions of this dish that I’ve had in the region.
I was also curious to try something marked “spicy,” so I ordered a dish of mai fun singapore noodles. The menu notes that you can request a specific heat level, but I wanted to see what the default would be.
We liked this dish quite a bit, but I wouldn’t say it was spicy by any means. So if you’re on the hunt for a punch of heat, definitely be more direct and ask for it.
The thin noodles were mixed with a slightly sweet curry sauce, along with a good portion of shrimp, pork, egg, peppers, and scallions. It was a good sized dish and a satisfying complement to the rest of our selection.
Timmy’s Chinese isn’t the cheapest place in town to get some egg rolls and pork fried rice, and they don’t deliver (which is frustrating given the state of parking in the immediate area). But this was one of my favorite Capital District Chinese takeout experiences in recent memory. The ingredients were high quality and there was clearly a lot of time spent on preparing everything, from the house-made wontons in the soup to the flavorful sauces. Even the little crackers that always come with wonton soup seemed to be house-made. To me, those little extra touches are worth paying for.
Although I see this as a place that I’ll mostly patronize for takeout orders, I don’t want to ignore the fact that there is also a full sit-down dining area, along with some more complicated menu items. And a $7 lunch special is probably worth checking out.
I’m definitely hoping that Albany has enough demand for a new Chinese place to excel, because Timmy’s could very well become my new go-to for Chinese takeout.