Where: Grand Garden, 5324 Atascocita Rd., Humble, 281-812-5858, Free delivery over $15
What $7 gets you: Your choice from a pretty good selection of lunch specials with fresh food.
Those familiar with this area may remember this spot as Chino Express. Grand Garden may have a shot, given that the burger and fish places at the other end of the strip center seem to be pretty popular and have held on for a couple years already. Perhaps Grand Garden (open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.), won't go the way of its predecessor and the two Mexican restaurants the strip center has rejected since it was built just a few years ago.
Recommended? Yes. At lunch, they keep it (we assume) all in the family; the little, old woman takes orders and get drinks while the equally small, aged man goes out to his minivan for the occasional delivery. The food, while not life changing, is good and tastes just a little better when you consider the prices.
The afternoon we went, there were about four other tables occupied, pretty good considering they have been open less than a month. We got a table by the window where you could see the fish tank and get some natural light without actually being in the sun. There is no TV in the restaurant, but there was one, or a radio, at the salon next door that was just loud enough to annoy me because I was closest to the wall.
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Every lunch order comes with your choice of hot and sour, egg drop or wonton soup to start. It was a nice and welcome surprise, a good substitute for the chips and salsa that we've advocated for years every restaurant should make a pre-meal staple. The wonton soup was tastier than some other restaurants offer, which we suspect is sometimes just hot water.
For our main dishes, we had the sesame chicken ($6.95) and pepper steak ($6.50). Both were good, though the pepper steak was better. Both were served hot and seemed fresh, and came covered in thick, gooey (in a good way) sauces. The sesame chicken was fairly sweet, while the pepper steak wasn't, but had a good flavor that is best described as tangy. Along with the soup, every lunch dish also comes with a fried spring roll and your choice of steamed or fried rice. The spring roll has a light, crispy shell, is filled with vegetables and tastes better dipped in the red sauce sitting by the salt and pepper.
The portions were more than adequate without being excessive, and the free soup, along with the spring roll and rice, make for a great value at less than $7.
Heads Up: The elderly waitress is courteous but not friendly, so there's no chit-chat and if you want chop sticks you'd better ask when you order, because they are not offered and once the food hits the table she only comes around again if your glass gets empty.