Atmosphere: Eastern courtesy in pleasant surroundings.
Price range: Many of the usual Chinese dishes such as sweet and sour pork in the $4.50 range with more expensive chef specialties going up to $15 for Peking duck.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday noon to 10:30 p.m.
Reservations: A good idea for large parties.
Special facilites: Free parking in the Seminary Plaza Office Building lot; boosters and high chairs available as well as a limited children's menu (entrees are $2.25); accessible to wheelchair patrons.
The Hunan Resturant has risen from the dust of the Fleece Restaurant. The Fleece - the double meaning of the name fit perfectly, we felt - had replaced Rick's Cove, which had replaced the Golden Fleece.
We hope Hunan will last. If courteous service and good food assure a restaurant's survival, it should.
We had watched the transformation of the ground floor space in the Seminary Plaza Office Building, where my husband has his office, for several months after the Fleece moved out. Led by new owner Eddie H.W. Ho, droves of industrious workers for weeks labored at the redecorating. People who work in the building forced to lunch at the nearby drugstore or uninteresting, watched with more than curiosity. Finally, on a clear Sunday afternoon, Hunan hung out its sign.
Since its opening a little more than a month ago, the Hunan has steadily improved in both food and service.
On a recent evening, my husband and I took our 3-year-old son for his first visit to Hunan. Our son was treated with special deference. He was offered a booster seat, and when were seated, Mr. Ho made a special trip to the table to suggest that he try one of the punches. Benjamin chose coconut. The punch, a delicious pina colada for $125, arrived in a large plastic coconut with a paper fan, a slice of orange and cherry.
The fruit was skewered on two small plastic "swords," which he used to wage a mock sword fight with his father.
From the list of exotic drinks, I chose a banana daiquiri, $1.95, a potent drink made with fresh banana, and a bit overlaced with rum.
The appetizer of roast pork, for $2.45, disappeared as quickly as it had come to the table.
Choosing our entrees took a little time. From 67 dishes on the menu, many of them unusual items such as triple delight with sizzling crackers or chicken with chili sauce which we had not seen offered in other restaurants, we finally selected Tung An chicken, 4.75, and duck with hai sien, or hoisin, sauce for $5.50.
The slices of duck were nicely covered with a mildly sweet sauce along with baby ears of corn, bits of broccoli, carrots and water chestnuts. The duck provided an interesting countertaste to the chicken, with its plane shreds heavily laced with ginger.
During our dinner, Ho went from table to table in the dining room - pleasantly done with golden dragons on the walls and tassled Chinese lanterns - to make sure that his customers were being property treated. A woman at a neighboring table told him, "This is the best Oriental food I've had in the area."
For dessert, we decided to splurge with toffee bananas, $2.45 for two. The presentation of the bananas is almost as interesting as the taste. Bananas are deep fried in a sugar and seasame batter, then brought to the table where they are dipped into ice water. The result is a delicious crunchy coating around steaming hot banana.
As we went to pay our bill, $19.43, the cashier asked us twice if everything had been to our satisfaction - the fourth such solicitation during our stay at Hunan. We left feeling not only well-fed, but also well treated. Hunan Restaurant
4660 Kenmore Ave., Alexandria.