$13 at Fu’s Garden in Rice Village

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: Fu’s Garden, 2539 University, 713-520-7422

What $13 gets you: Gen. Tso’s chicken, choice of soup, egg roll, and a shrimp toast appetizer

The instructions were clear and simple: My friend demanded we eat lunch somewhere “good, yummy and cheap.” Before I could even say “Your mom is good, yummy and cheap,” she decided for the both of us: Fu’s Garden. Rice Village. 11:30. Don’t be late. Fearing reprisal, I rolled in early enough to order an iced tea and scan the bountiful menu. All the standard Chinese fare was there, plus a decent selection of diet dishes. I flipped to the back of the menu and hit the lunch special motherlode. Most of the selections were between $5.95-$6.95, and included an egg roll and choice of soup. (I passed on the soup and opted for an extra egg roll instead). However, the lunch special would prove to be my undoing, as far as this whole $13 assignment is concerned. I’m a moron at math. Gorillas in captivity can add better than me. See, I overestimated tax and tip, so my lunch was only $10.95 – a sin that would surely warrant a pencil in the eye from our draconian web editor, Keith “Pol Pot” Plocek. So I flagged down the ever-patient waitress and asked to see a dessert menu. But the gods were angry that day: Fu’s Garden doesn’t have dessert. Damn! My friend suggested I get an appetizer, and, with her help, I settled on the shrimp toast. But when the waitress came back with the new bill, the number hit me like Ali: $13.42. I had broken the effing bank. Would I have a shot at redemption?

Recommended? Hells, yeah. The food was great, and the waitress was kind enough to wussify the ordinarily hot and spicy General Tso’s for my fragile sensibilities. The egg rolls were fresh, warm and crispy – they didn’t even require any sauce. And it’s clearly a great value, as proven by my difficulty of getting as close to $13 as possible. As for the shrimp toast, it looked and smelled good, but its taste will remain a riddle, for I gave it to my friend, believing I wouldn’t be able to include it for this assignment. When I asked her later how it tasted, she said she didn’t know – she gave it to a volunteer at her office. Double-damn!

Bonus point: You might find yourself with enough shrimp toast to give away, thus making you a better human being . – Craig Malisow

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