Two Locations Where Food is Crafted to Please Where is the art in food? In the sauce? The quality of the ingredients? The harmony of how those ingredients come together? Or is it just the bottom line of “umm … that’s good.” This month we set out to determine the answer by visiting a couple of well-known Asian food hot spots. Chen’s Restaurant 600 E. Thomas St., Lansing On this particular excursion, looking for the art became a bit of a challenge. Not because of the food, but because, due to the summer, I had two underage, unseasoned food reviewers in tow. They actually dragged McDonald’s food in with them (I have no idea who bought that for them). However, Chen’s benefitted from this because I felt like I had to order half the menu to compensate for the atrocious faux pas. Thank goodness Editor Emily met me to help eat and entertain. What didn’t we try? To start, we had Crab Rangoon and Shrimp Egg Rolls. The Crab Rangoon was what it should be, crazy crunchy on the outside with the sweet and smooth cream cheese and crab bubbling inside. The egg rolls surprised me with the large and firm shrimp tucked inside. As for entrees, we had Kung Pao Beef, Sweet and Sour Chicken and the Dragon and the Phoenix. I told you! The Kung Pao beef was rich with plenty of vegetables. The Sweet and Sour Chicken was like a chicken-filled dumpling. It had a lot of batter, but that is the way I like it. The Dragon and the Phoenix, which is a fancy way to say half General Tso’s chicken, half jumbo shrimp in a spicy chili sauce, was my favorite dish. The shrimp were big and plump and the heat of the sauce was slow but solid. The General Tso’s sauce was dark and rich. I have to say, it was far better than anything in a white bag. Wait. We had a white to-go bag. I mean it beats the golden arches, though with two kids in tow, I remember why we sometimes go. I wish Chen’s had a drive thru. Wok & Roll 3050 E. Lake Lansing Road, East Lansing You know it is a good sign when you walk into a restaurant and you feel like you have been transported to a different location. That’s the way it is at Wok & Roll. At any given time you can walk in and see piles of people eating family style. I love that. I have to tell you that Wok & Roll is my corner joint, so I may be biased. However, the quality is there. Let me give you the run-down on a few favorites. First, the dumplings are dense and delicious. I dump the sauce that accompanies them all over everything. My husband buys quarts of the Won Ton Soup. The fried rice never fails. My absolute favorite is the Garlic Chicken. The chicken is the flat, pounded kind that you know is good chicken. The vegetables are all fresh and bright in big chunks, and there are a lot of them. We always love the Kung Pao Shrimp and the Sesame chicken too. However, my husband creates his own dish: pan fried noodles with chicken and vegetables and Hunan sauce. The staff always rolls their eyes when they have to make it and we always fight over who gets to finish it. Thank goodness we usually eat it at home, so McDonald’s is not involved. The bottom line? Both Chen’s and Wok & Roll win on the “ummm … that tastes good” end of the spectrum.
Colette Evangelista sells certified organic, non-toxic beauty, health, baby and home products at www.healthandhopeorganics.com. Twenty percent of her profits go to Ascending Above Autisim, a charity that helps parents pay for autism treatment.