This led us to a series of take-outs and eat outs (and now that we've cleaned up the mess, to some crock pot and oven cookery).
I've known that our local Hunan Solon has an authentic Chinese menu on their website, but honestly had never thought that highly about the food there. We hadn't eaten there in several years, but it was too cold to go far and it was dinnertime, so we tried it. And I'm so glad we did!
We started with a variation on one of my favorite dishes - Fish Maw and Crab Meat Chowder (usually, this soup has dried conpoy [scallop] rather than crab). This version had little cubes of tofu in it, and this "small" bowl is meant to serve at least 4 diners:
The only flaw in the dish was that some of the crab was dangerously close to the end of its time. The good news was that there were no chemical smells or nasty textures to the meat, but some of it was not at its freshest. Not a bad start for Solon.
Our next two choices also came off the Chinese Menu, which has characters and English translations for the dishes (I can't figure out how to link directly to the Chinese Menu, so just go the website and navigate to it):
|Beef Ribs Strips in a Black Pepper Sauce|
There is a Black Pepper Chicken on the regular menu, but leaving these marrow-filled bones in the dish definitely enhances the flavor. We gave this an "A."
|Dou Mieu - pea leaves in Garlic Sauce|
These were some big, heavy, pea leaves - but cooked perfectly with a light garlicky sauce that contrasted well against the peppery beef. A great choice.
We next selected item #57, "Stewed Side Pork, Preserved Vegetables, in Hot Pot." But our server insisted she had a dish we'd like even better (though we really wanted a "hot pot" or casserole dish because it was so cold). She brought over a menu all in characters, and said that if we loved real Chinese food, we had to try dish #CS9. How could we refuse?
Our reward for taking her recommendation was on this plate:
Luscious slabs of tender pork belly dredged in gentle seasonings, then finished with dried chilies sat regally atop more stir-fried green vegetables. We expected it to have a more spicy flavor than it did, but it didn't need a lot of heat. This dish will bring us back to Hunan Solon for sure. Our server insisted on our next visit we must try the whole fried Tilapia (swimming in a tank at the back of the house) with minced vegetables. That is now on the list, though the live lobsters in the tank situated in the freezing restaurant entryway also tempt.
We had more than enough leftovers for a second dinner. Now, it will be on to the Crock Pots. But we'll be back to play with tasty Chinese morsels from Hunan of Solon, especially as we remain stoveless. Also of note is their annual celebration of the Lunar New Year with lion dancing and probably special menus or items, on February 21 and 28. Call the restaurant for further info or reservations, and you can have fun playing with your food among the lions! 440.248.8836.