$7 at Orient Cafe in Missouri City

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: Orient Cafe, 3340 FM 1092 in Missouri City, 281-499-3597

What $7 gets you: A good place for a quick refuel on a heavy day of work or weekend errand running

Lunch specials, which start at $5.25 and top out at $6.50, are served seven days a week here from 11:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. The service is fast, friendly and designed to move the food which gives you a more than decent ROI in terms of quantity and taste. It’s not exotic – more like comfort food – but coupled with several cupfuls of hot tea, it’ll keep you going.

Tucked away in a strip shopping center with several other restaurants nearby, Orient Café also delivers throughout the area, but most of its business is either pickup or dine in.

Recommended? For a couple steps up from truck stop Chinese, absolutely.

The day I’m there, the place has several families taking advantage of the loaded plates by ordering a few dishes and splitting them up among the kids. I order the sesame chicken which is advertised to come with fried rice, a spring roll (nope, it was an egg roll and a slightly greasy one at that) and your choice of soup.

The sesame chicken was brightly colored, sweet and not spicy. My companion ordered the chicken chow mein which arrived with flattened panels of chicken (she liked) rather than the traditional chunks and blown up and flattened out chow mein noodles (she didn’t like) rather than the kind that come from a can. She was also pleased that she was able to order root beer and they kept the refills coming without asking. Both of us had wonton soup and it was really good, with chunks of chicken along with the egg noodles.

Of course the final test a day later was whether the leftovers would reheat well. The chicken and broccoli were fine, the remains of the egg roll actually improved, and the rice was about like most Chinese rice, not great reheated.

If you get out to First Colony Mall in the Sugar Land area and want to go a little way off the beaten path, this might be a good drop-in spot to consider.

Lucky for you: The lunch comes with a free ice tea if that’s what you’re drinking. – Margaret Downing

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