Hunan Lion seeks `101%' satisfaction

Restaurant profile

Howard Live

May 23, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hunan Lion, which opened this month, sits next to Food Lion off Route 108 and takes its name partly from the supermarket.

"`Hunan' is probably the most popular name for a Chinese restaurant. When we applied for our license, we were told we needed another word to go with Hunan," said Jimmy Do, the restaurant's owner. "We knew that Food Lion was right there, so we decided to add `lion' to become `Hunan Lion.' And now it'll be easy for our customers to remember where we are."

Also, Do said, "We are adding Vietnamese dishes, especially Vietnamese sandwiches. I think we'll be the only place in Howard County that offers these special sandwiches."

Drawing from French and Vietnamese cuisine, the sandwiches are made with barbecued chicken, beef or ham, French mayonnaise and cucumber on French bread. "A lot of the ingredients aren't even available around here," Do said. "We're having it overnighted from California so it arrives fresh."

Do stresses that he intends to "101 percent" satisfy his customers. The addition of Vietnamese dishes is an example of doing just that. "We've been open only a few weeks, but our customers have already asked if we could make some Vietnamese dishes," he said. "Since one of our chefs is Vietnamese and knows how to cook Vietnamese style, we knew we could do it."

For now, the menu features mostly Chinese fare. Under "Chef Specialties" are chicken Marlboro (thinly sliced chicken breast sautM-ied with snow peas and water chestnuts in the chef's special white wine sauce), crispy chicken house style (boneless chicken marinated in a special hot sauce), Morengo delight (baby shrimp and diced chicken sauteed with hot peppers and peanuts in a plum sauce), scallops and beef Mandarin style (fresh scallops and sliced tender beef sauteed with Chinese vegetables in a special sauce) and two flavor shrimp (shrimp cooked with a white sauce and a hot ginger sauce).

The menu offers a variety of beef, chicken, pork and seafood dishes, such as double cooked pork, roast pork with Chinese vegetables, kung pao shrimp and scallops, shrimp with lobster sauce, lemon chicken, pepper steak and crispy beef Szechuan style. There are also vegetarian dishes, such as eggplant in garlic sauce, moo shu vegetables and mixed vegetables saute.

Chinese food doesn't have to be fattening. For the health-conscious, Hunan Lion offers a "health food section" of entrees that are "lower in sugar, sodium and cholesterol."

These entrees include steamed mixed vegetables (plain, with chicken or with shrimp) and steamed triple delight (chicken, beef and shrimp), with the sauces served on the side so you can add however much (or little) you want.

While studying for his undergraduate degree in finance and entrepreneurship from the University of Baltimore, Do worked in various restaurants, both as a chef and as the person running operations.

"I thought I'd apply what I learned by opening up a restaurant," he said. But he is not stopping with an undergraduate degree; soon he'll be pursuing his MBA as well.

And then what? "I'll see how Hunan Lion turns out," he said. "And then maybe I'll open another restaurant."

Hunan Lion

Where: 6500 Old Waterloo Road, #1, Columbia; 410-799-8826.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: $6.25 to $15.95

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and American Express

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