Mr. Wang's Hunan is really two restaurants in one, which makes it easy to find a dish to please just about everyone. For lovers of Japanese food, it has an extensive list of sushi and sashimi; for those who crave Chinese food, it has more than 150 selections. Located on Main Street in Laurel, Mr. Wang's however has one little trick: You must know that the entrance is in the back of Patuxent Place instead of out on Main Street.
Once you navigate the location, you'll find the inside of the restaurant is bright and inviting, its tables covered with pink cloths, classical music playing quietly in the background. One Friday evening I was surprised to see that only a few other tables were occupied, but the steadily ringing phone and stream of customers coming and going made it clear that Mr. Wang's is a popular carryout place.
I enjoyed most the Japanese side of my dining experience. I started with a refreshing miso soup ($1.50), followed by an appetizer of Tako Su ($4.95)--octopus salad, with the crinkle-cut octopus and cucumbers marinated in a vinegary sauce.
But the highlight was the sushi and sashimi combination ($14.95), a platter of perfectly cut thick hunks of fresh fish, either alone (sashimi) or delicately laid on top of a firm mound of rice (sushi). My daughter enjoyed the tuna roll included in the combination, so we ordered a California roll ($3.50) from the extensive a la carte menu.
When it came time to select from the Chinese side of the menu, we spent some time making our choices. The wonton soup ($1.25) had a rich stock and fresh sliced mushrooms and we liked the Sichuan string beans ($5.95 for dinner).
Off the Chef's Special menu we selected the shrimp and scallop Hunan style ($9.95), large shrimp and firm plump scallops sauteed with broccoli, bamboo shoots and mushrooms and covered with a sprinkling of crinkle-cut carrots. The menu lists the dish as spicy--as it did for the Sichuan string beans-- but we did not find that to be the case.
The large serving of Moo Shu chicken ($6.95) was filled with plenty of shredded chicken sauteed in cabbage, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and eggs and served with four hot pancakes and sauce.
The restaurant prepares the classic Peking duck, a dozen vegetarian dishes and some low-fat offerings as well. For those overwhelmed by all these choices, try the lunch ($4.95) or dinner ($7.95) combination platters. And many of the dinner entrees are available during lunch at somewhat lower prices.
Mr. Wang's Hunan, 675 Main St., Laurel, Md. 20707; call 301-317-8888. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
CAPTION: Sushi chefs and brothers Fung-Yo Kuo, left, and Yu-Chang Kuo work at Mr. Wang's Hunan in Laurel.