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Hunan Star packs a dependable punch

By Rosemary Boggs

This article was published June 27, 2013 at 3:04 a.m.

an-order-of-hong-siu-shrimp-from-hunan-star-in-sherwood-comes-with-fried-rice-and-eggroll-the-crispy-fried-shrimp-are-served-on-a-bed-of-stir-fried-vegetables-in-a-flavorful-sauce

An order of Hong Siu Shrimp from Hunan Star in Sherwood comes with fried rice and eggroll. The crispy fried shrimp are served on a bed of stir-fried vegetables in a flavorful sauce.

Sherwood staple Hunan Star is in a little building that was once a convenience store on Kiehl Avenue, near the U.S. 67/167 exit. And while it’s small and unassuming, we keep going back because we know exactly what to expect - good food.

Outside is a small parking area and a drive-through that circles around the back. Inside is a modest dining area filled with tables and chairs. Place your order at the counter, pay and have a seat. Or take out. We’ve been regular patrons for years, but normally do carryout, with the food still piping hot by the time I make it home.

The menu is rather extensive for such a small restaurant. My mother and my sister’s family are regulars too, and we all have different favorites. A recent family gathering was the perfect opportunity to visit the restaurant. I figured it would be easier to pick up the food and do the spread at my mother’s house.

We started with several orders of crab rangoon (two per order for $1.10), teriyaki chicken on a stick (six for $4.55), house special fried rice and house special lo mein ($5.95 each), several orders of egg drop soup ($1.10 each), egg rolls ($1.10 each), sesame chicken ($7.35) and cashew shrimp ($5.95). There was plenty for eight people, with a little left over.

Hunan Star’s rangoon is satisfactory. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough cream cheese and crab filling inside the fried wonton, but I always enjoy them. The egg rolls, which are pretty standard versions, are always good but best when really fresh.

The flavorful chicken on a stick, comes with a zesty peanut sauce for dipping.

Their egg drop soup is good compared with a lot of Chinese restaurants. The thick yellow broth with large strands of egg floating throughout is smooth and rich.

The house special lo mein and fried rice come with shrimp, chicken, beef and a variety of vegetables. Both had great flavor that day, and with the abundance of meat, they are meals in themselves.

The sesame chicken is made with large chunks of chicken that are breaded and fried, then,as the menu says, served in a “house special tangy sauce.” It’s one of the Chef’s Specials, which comes with an egg roll, fried rice and choice of soup. What I really like about it is that the breading stays crunchy for quite a while.

As for the Cashew Chicken, it was delicious. The cashews were plentiful and the brown sauce had a hint of sweetness.

On a return visit, we dined at the restaurant. I was determined to try something different.

My mother, son and I went over on an early Thursday evening. We pondered the menu longer than usual.

I started with the teriyaki beef on a stick ($4.55), hoping it would measure up to the chicken version.

Having noticed catfish on the menu, I decided to try it. For $7.75 you get four pieces of fish, and fries or fried rice. It had to be the fries. I did find out, after I’d paid, that they were almost out of catfish and there were only two filets left (I opted for extra egg rolls in place of fish). I wanted to see how it would stack up to their more traditional dishes.

I was intrigued by the name of the dish Hong Siu Shrimp ($7.35), and the fellow taking our order explained the dish as being fried shrimp on vegetables with rice.

Mother chose the garlic shrimp ($5.95), but at the time didn’t realize it was spicy. When looking at the large menu posted behind the counter, it’s easy to miss the little pepper symbol that means something is hotter than normal. It’s there on the printed menus.

As for soup, I went for the hot and sour while my son ordered egg drop.

I paid and we settled in at the table. The soup came first. My hot and sour had a thick broth base with tofu, strands of egg and bamboo shoots. It was delicious and thankfully, not too hot. The beef on a stick, a bit tough, was not as good as the chicken version.

As for the fish, it was fried very crispy, and the cornmeal breading tasted good. The flavor of the fish was OK, just not as mild as you might get at a fish restaurant and no tartar sauce. The fries were the basic variety.

I was pleasantly surprised when the Hong Siu Shrimp was placed before me. The plate had 10 big shrimp fried in what looked to be tempura batter. They were placed on top of a bed of stir-fried vegetables in a tasty brown sauce, accompanied by rice and an egg roll. This dish may be one of my new favorites, but if I do place an order to go, I’ll probably ask for the shrimp to be packed separately.

Mom’s garlic shrimp was a bit spicy, but she picked out the red pepper flakes and soldiered on. The big shrimp were tender and the sauce had a nice garlic essence that didn’t overpower.

We left with full stomachs and takeout boxes.

Hunan Star’s menu offers a selection of beef, chicken, pork and shrimp dishes as well as five vegetarian dishes. Pricing runs from $4.95 to $7.35 for the Chef’s Specials. There’s also a daily special for $4.45 that includes an egg roll and fried rice. The selections change daily.

Hunan Star

Address: 4300 Kiehl Ave., Sherwood

Cuisine: Chinese

Hours: 11 a.m. -9 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Alcoholic beverages: No

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Carryout: Yes (and delivery)

(501) 833-1056

Weekend, Pages 38 on 06/27/2013

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