Thursday, November 21, 2013

House of Cheung

This may be one of the closest restaurants to my house, but I haven’t been since I was in high school. Weird. Although one of the reasons is because of my son’s nut allergies, we rarely eat at Chinese places as a family (so many peanuts and cashews). My son was at a birthday party and my daughter was excited to go out without him, so we gave it a go.

The first thing you notice about this place is how friendly everyone was. Our server and the manager/owner I’m guessing both asked if it was our first time and were excited to have us. They explained that everything is made from scratch and seemed quite proud of their product. We were excited to try it.

I like that the menu is a little more paired down than many Chinese restaurants. It is still big, but not so big that it is overwhelming. They also had several dinner options based on the size of your party. We figured they must think these things are some of their better dishes, so we went with the “dinner for 3” option at $36. The only thing we changed is the soup from wonton to hot and sour. And they were more than happy to oblige the change.

As for the hot and sour soup, it was very good. One of the better ones I have had in Indy. It had the requisite hot AND sour and lots of good stuff in it. It was maybe a tad thicker than I would normally like (cornstarch thickness kind of thing) but the flavor was really good. Lots of black pepper. Also, I finally found some freshly fried (even warm) fried wontons. It seems like so often they are stale. These were great.

Our meal came with a fried egg roll and a crab Rangoon as well. The eggroll was huge, but not really my thing. It was one of those really large old school egg rolls filled mainly with just shredded cabbage. It was certainly freshly made though and was steaming hot. The crab Rangoon was also really hot and was good. It was super fresh, and not overstuffed with cream cheese which I like.

The meal for three came with three entrées and fried rice (but I ordered some steamed too). It came with Szechuan beef, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and General's chicken. The table favorite was probably the General's chicken. Typically, I am not a big fan of the deep fried chicken pieces in Chinese restaurants. Often there is so little meat to them and so much greasy fried parts. But this was very lightly fried and you could really tell they had used larger pieces of chicken. It was different from any other General's I have had. The sauce was a bit sweet, but had a little heat and some vinegar to it too.

The Moo Goo Gai Pan was good too. This is a very mild dish that I used to like as a kid. Interestingly, they always had it in Chinese places in Indy, but I never saw it on menus in San Francisco. So maybe it’s regional to the Midwest? (Also, other random factoid I just learned, it was the favorite dish of Laura Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show.) I liked that the chicken isn’t deep fried and that it was very tender. It’s in a light slightly thickened sauce that mainly tastes like chicken broth and had lots of bright green veggies in it—broccoli, snow peas and cabbage. I like cooked cabbage and that was my favorite veggie part of the dish. It was an easy one to get my sometimes picky daughter to eat (although the General ended up being her favorite). It was fresh and cooked just right, even if it is a very mild dish.

Lastly, we had Szechuan Beef. I was impressed that the beef wasn’t cooked to death—some pieces were still even a bit pink. It was pretty tender, although a couple were a tad fatty. It had a little spicier soy-based sauce and some veggies as well—green peppers, onions, carrots, and cabbage.  They certainly don’t skimp on the meat or the portions here. Even though we ordered way too much food (we took a ton home), it was fun to try it all. And I liked that the Moo Goo Gai pan offered so many veggies since the other ones were more meat-centered.

This place has a great welcoming staff and atmosphere--it is straightforward, 70s style Chinese food (it opened in 1979!) and it’s fresh and done well. And we all liked it quite a bit. I have a feeling the carry out menu is going to start going into our regular carry out rotation.

House of Cheung
2460 E. 71st Street
Indy  46240

House of Cheung on Urbanspoon

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