House of Hunan
Stevens Point, Wisconsin
There must be 2,000,000 Chinese restaurants in Wisconsin. At least that’s my perception. Madison must have half of them, but I opt for a small place in Stevens Point which puts all others I’ve ever experienced (and that includes Hong Kong) to shame.
The House of Hunan (now closed) was THE BEST Chinese Restaurant we have ever found. Always delicious food. The food always sat right in our tummies, and we’d often order additional take-out so we’d have something good to eat at our home in northern Wisconsin.
Located on Business 51, in a strip mall, about a mile into Stevens Point, when you get off of U.S. 51 going either north or south, House of Hunan was owned by a very talented woman named Wen Shen and her husband Tak. Wen is from Taipei, and comes from a long lineage of restauranteurs. It shows.
Wen and her husband are delightful people. Both thin as rails, and untiring, 16-hours- per-day workers. Their food was glorious in taste, extremely high in quality, and very affordable.
The menu included almost any type of Chinese food you can imagine, and even provided Japanese and American cuisine if you’d like.
For me, I enjoy pushing and shoving in the buffet line, while watching the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point students scarf up the daily buffet, which at $4.95, is the quintessential answer to a college student’s prayer: Where can I get a decent meal, stuff myself, and still only pay a few bob? This is the place.
The lunch buffet (a buffet is also served on Sunday evening and costs $6.95) always has egg rolls, won tons, soups (hot and sour, egg drop or Chinese veggie (one of Wen’s own inventions). Also, fried wontons stuffed with cream cheese, and tiny shrimp, flavored with some great seasonings, which I can’t decipher. There is a full fresh salad bar, for anyone who wants it, although I’ve never seen anyone take it.
The main hot buffet always has some variety of Chinese rice noodles, fried rice, steamed rice, and at least half a dozen main dishes, such as moo shoo pork, Mongolian beef, chicken in vegetables, Chinese meatballs (how they get them so literally “crisp” on the outside, and yet moist and flavorful on the inside is a mystery to me), beef and broccoli, etc. Desserts are excellent almond cookies and fortune cookies.
My wife and I had a couple of personal favorites. I always have loved egg foo yung, but have found most of what I’ve eaten to be pitiful in taste, and usually served in a glutinous sauce. Not here. Egg foo yung is not on the menu, but will be prepared when requested. The portion is mammoth. Three gigantic patties which are so fluffy, you’d think they had been blown up with an air compressor. Beautifully plated, and presented golden brown with an exquisite hoi sin sauce,the taste is indescribable. You can have it prepared with any type of filling: chicken, pork, beef, shrimp, or veggie.
My wife normally ordered a simple dinner of beef chop suey. Before you laugh, this is very special. Like all dishes at Hunan, meat is more plentiful than vegetables, and everything is prepared quickly and fresh. Nothing left standing around to be glopped onto a plate for some unsuspecting diner.
I always started my visit with a bowl of the house vegetarian soup, in which I dump in a healthy dollop of steamed rice. The soup has Chinese vegetables, is light, and with the rice, makes a perfect opening.
Meals run from $4.00 or so for lunch to around $10.00 for dinner, depending on the dish. You get soup and an egg roll, and a fortune cookie with each dinner.
The place was clean, service is quick and efficient, and carryout orders are welcome. For anyone seeking a new adventure in Chinese cuisine, House of Hunan in Stevens Point is the place.
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user lisaeaton]