Sushi tasty, fast and reasonable Restaurant: Mr. Wang's Hunan in a Laurel shopping center offers quick, polite service, plain decor and 'really good' prices for the Japanese dish.

October 08, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Just across the Anne Arundel County line in the heart of Laurel, a tiny Chinese restaurant tucked beneath a Red Hot & Blue in a strip center serves sushi good and fast.

More important, the cost is reasonable.

A friend who was eager to try sushi for the first time had seen a sign along the road advertising the Japanese dish at Mr. Wang's Hunan so we trekked there on a weekday and found the restaurant empty at 12: 30 p.m. The waiters and waitresses seemed a little startled to see people in the establishment.

We were seated near the back of the dim and cozy room, and the waitress almost immediately brought hot tea. The place scores few points for decor, with its plain furnishings. But our waitress' polite and quick service made up for that.

She was speedy about taking our order, bringing our food, checking on us, and refilling our water glasses -- although all this could have had something to do with the fact that we were the restaurant's only diners.

The Chinese menu was tempting, but we stuck to our goal of experimenting with sushi, especially because they have a 30 percent discount on all nigiri sushi -- which comes in two pieces, as opposed to rolls -- if you dine in.

I began with a miso soup, which was served in a Chinese-style bowl and came with a spoon. Most sushi restaurants serve it in a Japanese bowl, which allows you to sip from it easily. It tasted OK, but I gave the soup a thumbs down for authenticity. Instead of tofu bits, big mushroom slices floated in it, which I found unsettling.

We then deviated slightly and split an order of Crab Rangoon, a superb dish. Freshly fried, the crab meat and cream cheese-filled dumplings were hot, glistening and delicious. However, my friend felt the corners were a little tough and the crab meat too hard to find.

The sushi was a really good buy. Rolls range from $2.50 to $6.50 -- the most expensive of which was the rainbow roll, which often goes for almost $10 -- and nigiri sushi cost $2.50 to $4.

The rainbow roll was a little smaller than most restaurants serve, but the rolls draped with salmon, tuna, flounder and mackerel and stuffed with imitation crab meat were delicious. The Alaskan roll, with salmon and avocado, also was tasty though the salmon seemed a little tough.

We tried the salmon, tuna, shrimp and egg (known as Tamago) nigiri sushi. The salmon and tuna ones were soft and tender. I could almost feel the salmon melting in my mouth. But my companion thought that the salmon and tuna didn't "taste much like anything."

The shrimp did not disappoint either of us. It was crisp, fresh and delicious.

A real problem was the Tamago, the omelet sushi, which was much, much sweeter than it's supposed to be. And the corners of the omelet part were stale.

Our bill, including the tip, came to about $29, a little hefty for lunch but a good deal for a nice sushi dinner.

Mr. Wang's Hunan

Where: 675 Main St., Patuxent Place, Laurel, 410-880-6767

Hours: Dinner, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Lunch, 11 a.m. to 2: 30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Prices: Appetizers, $2-$8.95; Entrees, $6.95-$16.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Rating: ** 1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland -- **** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 10/08/98

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