Open 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday noon until 10 p.m., and Sunday noon until 9 p.m. Most major credit cards. No reservations accepted except for large parties (20 or more). Expect a wait Friday and Saturday nights between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Accessible by wheelchair. 971-5404.

Friends of ours were considering moving to the Virginia area from New York City. But the woman said she wouldn't agree to move unless she and her husband could find a good Chinese restaurant in the area.

The couple decided to move. They say what convinced them was a few trips to The Sampan Cafe, off Franconia Road near Springfield.

The Sampan, located in a small, unpretentious shopping center across from the massive Springfield Mall, specializes in Cantonese food.

Just about all the entrees are less than $50 and many are less than $40. But we found the best choice to be from the list of entrees under "Family Dinners."

These dinners cost $5.49 per person and include choices from two lists of 12 entrees each. The number of entrees depends upon the number of guests in the party.

On a recent visit there, our family of four chose a dinner for three since we were sure our 5-year-old son's appetite would fail after the first course. We made the right decision.

In addition to the chosen entrees, the family dinners include choice of egg drop or wonton soup, plus a generous portion of Hawaiian "beef-on-a-stick," and large, crisp eggrolls. Our son was finished eating before the entrees arrived at our table. He spent the remainder of the meal attempting to eat rice with chopsticks.

Of our choices of boneless chicken cantonese, beef lo mein and sweet and pungent pork, the chicken was our favorite. This entree consisted of rolled white meat of chicken, lightly batter-dipped and fried and served in a sauce with Chinese vegetables. The sweet and sour pork was also first-rate with plenty of pork, fruit and vegetables in a not-too-sweet sauce. The beef lo mein (sliced beef and soft noodles) was the favorite our 8-year-old daughter.

The Sampan's decor is pleasant and the service is quick and efficient, although at times not too friendly. The clientele consists mainly of local families and military personnel. The restaurant was opened three years ago by Brian Ng. An addition was recently added bringing the seating capacity up to 200. Another Sampan Cafe, owned by Ng's uncle, has been going strong on Pennsylvania Avenue in the District since 1942.

Our bill at the Sampan, including tea and dessert of fortune and almond cookies, came to $16.47 plus tax and tip.