Thursday, April 21, 2011

8. Chen's Chinese Restaurant

Jack Burton: [looking at kung pao chicken from Chen's] Two, three feet thick, I'll bet. Probably welded shut from the outside, and covered with brick by now!
Wang Chi: Don't give up, Jack!
Jack Burton: Oh, okay, I won't, Wang! Let's just *chew* our way outta here!

Located somewhere down in Long Beach, this is a small little Chinese food place known mostly to just the local riff-raff.

The decor is nothing to write home about, though ironically here I am, writing to everyone about it. Just standard tables and booths all being pandered to by nondescript waiters in white. If you've seen Big Trouble in Little China, think Lo Pan's mansion, but without the sculptures, magic, thrones, whores, Kurt Russell, monsters, true love, and dagger-throwing. So basically, it's a just a carpeted room with tables.  But you know, like, Chinese.

Where Chen's DOES become quite Lo Pan-esque is when the food arrives. The basic premise of Big Trouble in Little China is that an ancient sorcerer named Lo-Pan needs to find and marry a rare Chinese girl with even rarer green eyes in order to regain his phsysical form. Well, finishing even one entree at Chen's carries about the same odds as finding a magical Chinese Girl with Green eyes. Each entree is about a fishing bucket's worth of food. We ordered Kung-Pao chicken and there had to be at least 2-3 chicken's worth of meat on the plate.

Chefs at  Chen's, getting ready to make one dish.

The quality of the food was good. And at a price point of around $10.95 for basic entrees and about 13.95 for seafood, the prices weren't bad. The food was flavorful and I especially suggest the Hunan spicy beef. When I first tried it, it reminded me of Jack Burton. You see, Jack Burton is a tough-talking, wisecracking truck driver whose hum-drum life on the road takes a sudden supernatural tailspin when his best friend's fiancee is kidnapped. Speeding to the rescue, Jack finds himself deep beneath San Francisco's Chinatown, in a murky, creature-filled world ruled by Lo Pan, a 2000-year-old magician who mercilessly presides over an empire of spirits. Dodging demons and facing baffling terrors, Jack battles his way through Lo Pan's dark domain in a full-throttle, action-riddled ride to rescue the girl. The Hunan spicy beef, too, took a full-throttle action-riddled ride, but into my digestive tract.

Also it's important to note something I have never seen in a Chinese restaurant before. Rice is FREE. You heard right, folks. I don't know what stroke of Genius Chen was imbued with when he came up with this idea. But it struck him like lightning, probably from one of the Chinese Storm Warriors featured in John Carpenter's film Big Trouble in Little China. It's always bothered me that rice isn't free at Chinese food places. Well done, Chen.

So if for some reason you're stuck out in Long Beach, and want a hassle free dinner with plenty of leftovers, this place takes the cake. I also suggest renting a copy of Captain Ron, it's Kurt Russell's best movie.

Name: Chen's Chinese Restaurant
Genre: Chinese
Value: Amazing!
What You'll Need to Enjoy Your Meal: Weed, two stomachs.
Rating: 4.5 / 5

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