Photo by Houston Press Staff
At most Chinese restaurants, fear the "special" fried rice. Rumored to be made of day-old rice and whatever leftover meat and vegetable bits fall from the cutting board, the only thing special about the rice is that it's drowned in soy sauce, creating a super-salty and greasy meal. But not at Chinese Cafe. Here, "special" means lots of ingredients (shrimp, pork and assorted veggies) and a big serving -- all for only $4.75, including a side of hot and sour soup. When the dish arrives, notice how the rice grains remain white and separated, never sticky or mushy. The quality of not just the fried rice but all the dishes at Chinese Cafe is comfortingly consistent. Although it's known as Chinese Cafe in English, its Chinese characters actually read "north and south," revealing the restaurant's wide range of dishes. Try the chicken with black mushrooms and spinach, the beef with crisp Chinese broccoli or the smooth, perfectly cooked shrimp with pelt beans. Plus, the wait is never long here at this serve-yourself cafe. Chinese Cafe serves good Chinese food fast, not Chinese fast food.