Highlights and Leftovers: Broders’ After 8 Dinner Special, Pagoda’s $99 Banquet for Eight


So many meals, so little time to write. Highlights of the past week or two include the After 8 dinner for two at Broders’ Pasta Bar, and the Chinese banquet for eight at Pagoda in Dinkytown. 

I’m not sure anybody learned very much about food writing at the Foodwriting Workshop I organized recently at Pagoda, but a grand time was had by all, and it gave me a good excuse to get enough people together so that we could order Pagoda’s 8-course banquet menu.

Pagoda ginger and scallion lobster

We ordered the least expensive version, eight courses for $99, with a menu that included seafood tofu soup, drunken chicken, ginger & scallion lobster, yinyang sole fish fillet, walnut jumbo shrimp, beef brisket hot pot, Jing dou pork chop, and Chinese broccoli with garlic. If you split the $99 tab eight ways, it’s cheaper than eating at the Olive Garden – and a whole lot tastier. 

Pagoda yinyang sole fish fillet
That was an ample feast for eight diners, but a couple of more elaborate versions are also available: the 10-course banquet menu for $199 includes crab meat fish maw soup, abalone with Chinese mushroom, and golden fried garlic crab; while the 12-course $299 menu also features Fujianese style oyster soup, whole crispy roast duck, two lobsters and a chrysanthemum fried walleye. 
Pagoda owner Justin Lin with chef Yuyang Huang
Owner Justin Lin graciously stopped by to answer questions about the menu – it’s basically traditional Cantonese fare, mostly. He also introduced the chef who prepared the dinner, Yuyang Huang, who won a bronze medal in the New Tang DynastyTelevision  5th International Chinese Culinary Competition, held in September in New York City. 

x x x x x x x

Broders’ Pasta Bar doesn’t take reservations, and even if you call ahead, the wait can be pretty long (up to an hour and a half), especially at the peak of the dinner hour. The best way to beat the crowds is to dine later, when the dining room empties out, and Broders’ offers its $30 After 8 menu for two (available Sunday through Thursday). 

Broder's Caesar salad, with dish of warmed olives

The price includes a choice of salad for two, a bowl of warmed olives in oil with orange zest,bread basket,  a choice of two pastas and a small carafe of red or white wine. There are about half a dozen pastas to choose from – generally, the less elaborate, lower-priced preparations on the dinner menu. We opted for the Caesar salad, the stringozzi alla Spoletina, a house-made fresh pasta (like fettucine), with a sauce of tomatoes and garlic; a simple spaghetti with salt, black pepper and Romano cheese, and a very drinkable rosso Toscano house red.

Broder's stringozziThe dishes were all very simple, but the preparation was flawless; the olives were warmed to bring out their flavor; the Caesar dressed just right, the pastas perfectly al dente. We could have added a dessert, such as the bestia nera flourless chocolate cake, creme anglaise or the tiramisu (both $6.50), but the dinner felt complete just as it was.