Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More 樂趣演奏用食物 Chinese Style!

The reason I was forced into enjoying my Mister Brisket turkey breast for breakfast was that Monday and Tuesday, I had lunch dates. As fate would have it, both meals were at Chinese Restaurants.

Monday's lunch at Hunan of Lyndhurst was lovely. I don't why it has been so long since I've been there (it is right down the street from my office), because the food and service are always delightful. Since their website appears to be "under construction" - they are in the Greens of Lyndhurst, 5670 Mayfield Road (440) 646-9100.

Chicken with Cashews

Beef with Garlic Sauce

Bob and Bernie each enjoyed their lunches. Lunch specials are served with the diner's choice of white rice or fried rice (except for noodle dishes).

Chicken with Black Pepper Sauce

Anna and I ordered the same (except that mine was la, or spicy). This is my "go to" dish at this restaurant. Black pepper sauce isnt offered at many Chinese Restaurants, and Hunan of Lyndhurst does a nice job with it. And when I asked for la - I got la - it was fabulously spicy, but the spice did not overwhelm the other flavors in the dish.

On Tuesday, I met my photographer friend at The Happy Buddha Cafe. I have written and posted photos from this wonderful place a few times before: first visit, second visit. She wanted to try the authentic Asian Noodle Soups and I was ready to tackle the Chinese menu posted on the restaurant website.

This is a simple, tiny place - about 5 tables in all. Shirley, who hails from Hong Kong but does not read characters, explained that her husband, Chef Gordon Liu, had written and posted this menu (which, to be fair, says it is "under construction") without her knowledge. With a little help from Chef, however, I decided to try the Tomato Niu Fan (Tomato, Eggs, Rice).

Vegetable Noodle Soup with Tofu and Mai Fun (Thin Rice Noodles)

Chris's soup was served with an extra bowl of broth, because the bowl was packed with so much goodness that Shirley was concerned there wouldn't be enough broth!

Chris enjoyed this immensely, and had quite a bit left to take home for dinner.

Tomato Niu Fan

This simple yet complex-tasting sauce was thick with, well, thickener (I don't know if it was cornstarch or another starch) - while normally this might lead to gloppiness - here it was a perfect vehicle for the delicate flavors of fresh tomato and gently cooked eggs, which infused the sauce with goodness. There was a little sweetness, balanced with a hearty dose of garlic and the sweet sharpness of fresh scallion, and accented by the tasty strips of stir-fried beef.

Chef Chiu will make any dish to order. While I was happy that all of the tables were full of customers, it was disappointing (to me) that every plate I saw come out of the kitchen was typical Chinese Lunch Special - the menu has plenty of options for those willing to try something new. Our food was simply fantastic - I can't wait to eat here again!

The next time someone at the office says "lets go out for Chinese Food" - be a little daring. Look for something on the menu you've never had before, or ask the server - "what is especially good today" - you may be pleasantly surprised. Even if you aren't wowed - it won't set you back a lot to play with some new food at your local Chinese Restaurant - and here in Cleveland, we are lucky to have so many places that will be delighted to help you play more with your Chinese Food!

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