Hunan Express: Elkridge secret being discovered

Chinese establishment gets notice for food, service, takeout over the Internet

Restaurant Profile

January 20, 2000|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

Hunan Express is perhaps one of Elkridge's best kept secrets.

Open 15 months and tucked away in the 6000 block of Marshalee Drive, west of Old Montgomery Road, the quaint-looking Chinese restaurant specializes in Hunan and Szechuan dishes and offers a diverse and an affordable menu for lovers of Chinese food.

Whenever Sam Groves, 20, of Elkridge visits the restaurant, it's always crowded.

"It's a great place to go and get a really good meal," Groves said, taking in one of the restaurant's many specialties.

On this day, he savors Neptune delight -- jumbo shrimp and scallops sauteed in a brown sauce and served with rice and vegetables.

"Everything is really fresh, and the cooks and waiters go out of their way to make you feel welcome," he said.

What has distinguished this small restaurant from others in the area is its express takeout service.

Residents can look over the Hunan Express menu on the Web (www.hunanexpress.com) and call in orders before making the trip to Marshalee Drive.

The owners say that in the next year they hope add a delivery service.

Howard County is home to a growing number of Asian restaurants and markets that cater to a burgeoning Asian-American population.

And while every village center in Columbia has a Chinese restaurant, Elkridge has only a few takeout Chinese establishments and fewer sit-down restaurants that specialize in Asian cuisine.

Hunan Express owner Bryan Dan said Elkridge was a natural choice for his Chinese restaurant.

"Columbia has too many Chinese restaurants, and our food is very similar to Hunan Manor," Dan said, referring to the popular Columbia restaurant widely considered to be one of the area's best.

Some of the most popular meals on the Hunan Express menu are traditional Chinese favorites: General Tso's chicken, tangerine chicken, kung pao shrimp and scallops in hot garlic sauce. Moo shu chicken with four pancakes is also popular.

But the inexpensive vegetarian meals are being requested more and more, said Dan, who also owns Hunan House in North Laurel.

"People really love to substitute the meat dishes" with alternatives such as bean curd and tofu, Dan added.

The house grill menu, which features items such as barbecued spare ribs, chicken and beef, is an alternative to traditional Chinese appetizers such as egg rolls and dumplings.

Dan hopes to expand the restaurant in the near future, but said he can hardly keep up with the demands of the regular customers he has now.

"Things get so busy here, especially on the weekends," he said.

Sun staff writer Jill Hudson Neal contributed to this article.

Hunan Express

Where: 6030 Marshalee Drive, Elkridge; 410-796-8738.

Hours: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Prices: Appetizers, $2 to $7.95; entrees, $5.95 to $16.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

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