We’ve been waiting on a cold snap to venture back to
We’ve only been eating at
The decor is traditional. Wooden latticework fills the windows between private family-style tables. We don’t ever forget we’re eating in a dining room connected to a grocery store (its fluorescence is a glowing portal at the restaurant’s entrance), but we ain’t here for the
On this occasion, on a
The beverage selection is a playland, with choices such as Tapioca Milk Tea, Royal Milk Tea, Ginger Milk Tea and dozens of others. We tried the Taro Milk Tea ($3 for small), not knowing a thing about what we’d just ordered, which is part of the fun of eating here, especially if you’re willing to try the more authentic dishes. It was purple and tasted like the milk after you’ve had Fruity Pebbles, which is to say it tasted delicious, though it probably would have been better after the meal.
For our first hot pot, we were obliged to try the “original” ($12.99).
We ordered pan-fried dumplings ($4.95), too. Knowing full well we were ordering too much food, we nevertheless appeased our inner glutton and ordered a few Chinese-American classics: Orange Chicken ($8.95), Kung Pao Shrimp ($9.95) and, because we’ve thought about being vegetarian once or twice, the Sizzling Tofu ($8.95).
The dishes came out in rapid succession and in ample portions that were very much a value for the price. The steamed buns, which on this visit didn’t take long at all, were light, and the pork inside was melt-in-your-mouth flavorful. The pan-fried dumplings were crispy but not dry. Then came the hot pot. A round lid was lifted from the middle of our table to reveal the burner. The waitress placed the pot on the burner and we were presented
We had no need for the
The wait staff was attentive and kept our glasses filled. They answered any questions we had and made us feel welcome even when we didn’t know exactly how to order the hot pot or when we didn’t know what a particular ingredient was. The total was a little over $60, and we’ll have at least two more meals out of the leftovers. We could happily eat, the two of us, for less than $20.
The highest praise we can give to a restaurant is to say the food tastes like somebody’s grandmother is back in the kitchen churning out plate after plate.
3901 S. University Ave.
At Mr. Chen’s, the meat and seafood are fresh because the kitchen is attached to the supermarket. Typical Chinese go-to items (sesame chicken, pepper steak, etc.) are always ready in a hurry. At lunch, entrees are mostly $6.95 and come with an egg roll or spring roll and steamed or fried rice.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Credit cards accepted. Beer, wine and sake served.