Generally, there's a few things we all want from a fast food Chinese restaurant: heaping large portions (enough for at least one round of leftovers), tasty, well-composed food (nothing that crumples in your mouth), and fair prices. Food presentation and a top-notch dining room are mostly irrelevant. That's the attitude at Uptown
's Hong Kong Chef, which provides everything you crave and none of the fancy-pants crap you couldn’t care less about.
Large photos of artfully crafted dishes sit above the kitchen, but it's best to check an actual menu before making a gut decision (pun intended). It's a juggernaut: Nearly 130 choices in all, not counting the lunch specials, which offer an entree, a can of soda, rice and a side dish for $5-$6. Typical dinner options range from fried rice with chicken ($4.50-6.50) to pork with broccoli ($6.25-$8.95) to sweet & sour shrimp ($6.95-$9.95).
But with a menu this ginormous, why not get a little adventurous? Like the breaded chicken and baby corn fun of emperor chicken or rice noodles, Taiwan-style (which apparently means thinner and served with shredded chicken). There's also a dish called Happy Together that I'll leave you to try for yourself. In any case, few entrees or sides will disappoint, and everything is fresh and not too greasy or soggy.
Seating is limited, with only about three booths tucked into a pretty cramped, but relatively clean, dining room. A few decorative trimmings like a wild flower arrangement, a few Chinese paintings, a dusty television plopped onto a table next to three 12-packs of Pepsi do little to entice you to stay. But hey, you're not paying for decor; you're paying for tasty, plentiful, cheap Chinese.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert