Hunan Gate Restaurant

Written by on December 16, 2011 in I Eat America, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Ballston neighborhood, Arlington, Virginia

How I heard of this place: My friend, Rosie first introduced me to Hunan Gate. While Chris and I had walked past the local Chinese restaurant numerous times, we never took the time, or had the craving for it in these past three months of living only one block away.

Type of cuisine: Northern China style Chinese dishes.

Ambiance: The unassuming corner establishment comes to life when one enters the single glass door into the foyer of Hunan Gate. A smiling, golden Buddha welcomes patrons as he lounges against the white wall decorated with a red wall scroll with Chinese calligraphy in gold. Before him was a bowl of incense and a small gold, raised platter with a pile of four bright, fresh oranges. We entered the dim-lit space to find more Christmas decor than anywhere else I’ve seen in Ballston. A tall, nearly seven-foot tree with lights, ornaments and a lit star atop sat beautifully to the left of the entryway as we made our way into the dining area. A tiled pathway along the floor made its way from the entrance to the kitchen, and through the two carpeted dining areas. A metallic, gold trim separated the tiled floor from the shaw carpeting in deep shades of red. Glass-topped square-shaped tables covered in red linens and pages of the Chinese Zodiac at each setting are found around the space, accompanied by black-rimmed chairs at each spot. To the left of the entrance a fridge of beverages led onto the small bar, decorated with garland, stockings, lights and red bows. Limited booth seating is found at each window. Walls are decorated with Chinese artwork including shadow boxed trinkets, silk screens, and a gold gong over a red plank. Inlets cut into the white walls also house Chinese artwork. A buffet area at the back leads me to believe that they have an extensive lunch-time buffet for the quick meals taken by office workers all around the neighborhood. One lone fish makes his way around and around the four foot long, one foot wide and two feet deep aquarium, as we glance over the menu.

What I ordered: Before we even walked in, Rosie knew that she would be ordering a large bowl of White Rice ($3.50). That’s it. No sauces, no vegetables, no meats, just rice. Rima immediately expressed interest in an Orange Chicken, and went straight to it on the menu: Orange Flavored Chicken ($12): “tender chuck of chicken lightly coated with water chestnut batter, fried to golden brown and blended in a spicy orange flavored brown sauce“, served with blanched, vibrant and crispty broccoli florettes.

Orange Chicken

Yoada first wanted to go with a different chicken dish, but changed her mind and joined Rima with Orange Flavored Chicken, as she was placing her order. I asked our waiters’ opinion between the Moo Shoo Chicken or the Szechuan Beef ($10.99): “shredded tender beef with celeries, carrots in a spicy Szechuan sauce” and he recommended the beef, having a larger portion of meat and being the more popular of the two dishes.

Beef at Hunan

Each of our three entrees came with a generous bowl of white rice on the side.

What I loved: Of the foods we sampled, while I loved the spiciness of the Szechuan Beef and crispy celery, the flavor of the orange chicken was quite pleasant – sweet and spicy in one bite.

Why I loved it: Large portions. Friendly staff. Lots of red decor. Soft mints in a bowl at the register. Yum.

Cost: Low to average ($9-$15 per dinner entree)

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