Lucky's recipes a family secret

Specialties: The Columbia restaurant's menu features items from different parts of China.

Restaurant profile

March 21, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

At Lucky's China Inn at Oakland Mills Village Center, owner Elsa Chang serves up recipes created by her husband and her husband's brother.

One such dish is "Two Brothers' Shrimp," featuring lightly fried shrimp served with broccoli in a creamy sauce.

"Don't ask for the recipe - they won't tell you," warns the menu.

"My husband and his brother, they are from China," said Chang, who is from Hong Kong. "His brother is a very good chef in China and he [taught] us the recipe."

Chang has owned Lucky's since 1998, when the village center was renovated. Before that, she owned a restaurant in Virginia.

She said she likes the Columbia location because most village centers have a Chinese restaurant, creating a natural base of customers and eliminating direct competition.

The restaurant seats about 60 people and offers delivery and takeout service. Chang said that about half of the customers eat in. She also offers catering.

Entrees are cooked without MSG and are offered in small and large portions. The menu, which features dishes from different parts of China, helpfully lists the origins of most entrees and also gives detailed descriptions of the more unusual dishes.

"Mala Wild Chicken," which is sauteed with snow peas and carrots, is from Beijing, while "Crispy Duck" is from Shanghai. "Sizzling Triple Delight," which features beef, chicken and shrimp stir-fried with vegetables, comes from Hong Kong.

Several dishes, including the "Two Brothers' Shrimp," are listed as "house," meaning they are private recipes. Another house dish is "Chang's Crispy Shrimp," which is fried and served with a rich sauce.

"Vegetarian Paradise," also a house dish, is a combination of three vegetable favorites: Szechwan-style bean curd, mixed Chinese vegetables and sauteed string beans. Chang said it is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

"Chicken Amazing," another private-recipe dish, features chicken sauteed with garden greens in "Chang's special sauce."

"Bird Nest Surprise," from Shanghai, is jumbo shrimp, beef, chicken and vegetables in a spicy garlic sauce.

Also on the menu is a whole lobster, available with a choice of ginger and scallions, black been sauce, Szechwan-style, Cantonese-style, or with mixed vegetables. No place of origin is given for this dish, which sells for $15.95.

Lo meins, chow meins, sweet and sour dishes, egg foo young dishes and other Chinese-restaurant staples are available. Dinner combinations are priced from $5.95 to $7.95 and come with an egg roll and vegetable fried rice. Lunch specials, which come with an egg roll and fried rice, are served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Chang said her "General Tso's Chicken," which is Hunan in origin, is the most popular dish on the menu and has earned praise.

"Many customers tell me it's the best `General Tso's Chicken' in town, not just in town, but in Baltimore, too," she said.

Lucky's China Inn

Where: Oakland Mills Village Center, 5865-D Robert Oliver Place, Columbia; 410-997-5454 or fax 410-997-5459.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays; noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.

Prices: Appetizers, $1 to $7.95; main dishes, $4.50 to $15.95.

Credit cards: All major, including American Express, Visa, MasterCard and Discover

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