Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Hunan Chef

Hunan Chef has been in business since 1967 for a reason.

IMG_0973I’ve been going to Hunan Chef since it was located across from the Falls Church Episcopal Church in the Southgate Shopping Center. The plan usually involved beef with broccoli, some teriyaki beef sticks, and sitting around watching The Andy Griffith Show (I’m not kidding about that last part. For some reason, it was on regular television channels at around one in the afternoon.) The small wooden interior of the old location, combined with the coolness of neighboring businesses like the cramped Halal Meat Market and the arcade that nobody ever went to for some reason, made the whole dining/take-out experience more enjoyable and now makes me pine for my youth. Sadly, Hunan Chef was forced to relocate down the street several years ago, so I stopped in to make sure that the food was still good. While I prefer the dark interior of the original location over the very bright interior of the current location, the food doesn’t seem to have changed a bit.

Hunan Chef has been in business since 1967 for a reason. They stick to making solid Chinese food that, while not the greatest thing that has ever existed, will not be objected to by any reasonable human beings unless they’re health-food nuts, in which case a few of the items on the menu will satisfy them. But for those of us who have given up on being even remotely healthy and are now interested solely in bacchanalian pursuits, Hunan Chef is perfect.

The beef teriyaki sticks are just as good as I remember them being in my youth. As the old math formula states, meat+stick=greatness. It’s a must-get appetizer for anyone who loves meat or skewers. Because I love both of those things, this was a win-win on many different levels.

I decided to move away from the traditional beef and broccoli and got the new dish that I judge all Chinese places on: crispy beef. Hunan Chef’s crispy beef seems to be more of a chewy, saucy fried beef than a crispy beef, but it’s still pretty good and isn’t mostly made up of vegetables that were scrounged up to fill out the dish. This is one hundred percent beefy goodness with nothing that even resembles something healthy. I respect that.

For nut-lovers, the chicken cashew dish will not disappoint. While we all know it’s difficult to find the perfect balance between chicken and cashew amounts, Hunan Chef seems to have done it. There’s plenty of chicken and plenty of nuts to go around. The fried rice is pretty standard, but it’s hard to resist. I got mine with shrimp just to switch things up and was pleasantly surprised by the vast number of shrimp that it came with, as many Chinese places (with shrimp-fried rice in particular) seem to skimp on the meat.

Is this the best Chinese place you’ll ever go to? Probably not. But you can’t argue with longevity and you have to respect a business that could’ve easily moved to a cheaper, more distant location after getting kicked out of their old building. Hunan Chef has become a Falls Church Chinese-food institution, and with juicy meat and big portions, it’s not hard to see why.

Hours:

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Friday: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

 

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