The Hunan Express is not an underground railway smuggling Chinese immigrants from an oppressive Communist Red China. The Hunan Express located directly across the street from The Ritz Carlton Hotel at 2025 Cedar Springs in Dallas is the brainchild of Mark Carey and Kevin McKarrow and said to be the favorite Chinese Restaurant (in Dallas) of famed celebrity chef Dean Fearing.
Mr. Carey and Mr. McKarrow, so the story is told, couldn’t find Chinese faire in the Dallas area to suit their discerning palates. So, they decided to take matters into their own hands and open up their very own Authentic Chinese Restaurant where all of Dallas could indulge themselves on delicacies fit for a Khan. According to their website lore, the dynamic duo hired a “Chef Li from China” who has created a menu of proclaimed “truly authentic Hunan specialties”.
Hunan Express proudly states that their menu is entirely “MSG free” and not only offers sit down dining but has take out and delivery for the Uptown area as well. The menu starts with everything from Spring Rolls as light as a fresh, spring breeze and such familiar favorites as; Roasted Pork Egg Rolls, Fried Wontons and Peking style BBQ Pork Ribs. Of course no Chinese menu would be complete without the “Pu Pu Platter” which there is two variations, a number one and a number two, that offer different combinations of appetizers from the menu on each platter. “The Asian Chicken Salad” stands alone as the only salad on the menu; then there are ten soups which range from the typical; “Hot & Sour”, “Egg Drop” and “Wonton” that are sold only by the cup and prices range from $3.00 to $3.50. Two specialty soups of the Hunan – Szechwan Province include; “Hot Roast Beef Soup” which sounds like something more from a New York, Jewish Delicatessen rather than a Chinese restaurant and “Hunan Noodle Soup” both for $8.25 each. One can only hope at these prices there is a prize to be found at the bottom of every bowl.
The Hunan – Szechwan region of China is known for their hot and spicy dishes and they are indicated on the menu by a bright red star (slightly and subliminally reminiscent of the Communist regime). Specialties of the house include; “Happy Family”, “Hunan Delight” and “Treasure Hunt”. The only thing missing here is “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” and “The Joy Luck Club”. “General Chow Chicken”, “Dragon and Phoenix”, “Da Chang Chicken” and “Golden Dragon” all sound like the titles of some of Jackie Chan’s earlier films from Golden harvest Productions. A slightly confusing change of structure takes place in the format of the “dinner section”. The menu items in the “dinner section” are predictable and are certainly nothing out of the ordinary leading one to believe that “every” Chinese restaurant serves “authentic Hunan-Szechwan foods”.
The menu then goes on to sub-categorize the eighteen different ways that you can have; shrimp, beef, chicken or pork prepared. The writer of this article will spare you the eighteen methods of preparation assuming that you’ve been in a Chinese restaurant in this country or Canada at least once in your life, and then you could probably order off of this section of the menu from the top of your head without ever having seen the menu at The Hunan Express.
The menu then goes on to the category of “Lo Mein” which gives no explanation other than; “SHRIMP LO MEIN” – “BEEF LO MEIN”, CHICKEN LO MEIN” etc. etc. etc. and last but not least…”COMBO LO MEIN”. “Lo Mein” is a Chinese dish of boiled noodles combined with any or all of the same ingredients that can be found in any of the other dishes from the “DINNER SECTION” of the menu but are “stir fried” along with the noodles, in a soy based sauce and cornstarch thickened glaze. If you are not intrinsically aware of this fact then you’ll have to ask because it certainly isn’t explained on the menu. The “Fried Rice” section, which is only labeled; “RICE” is (aside from the title) slightly more self explanatory in that it is sub-categorized as; “SHRIMP FRIED RICE”, “BEEF FRIED RICE” and so forth and so on until it reaches the climactic entry of “COMBO FRIED RICE”. Which undoubtedly comes complete with fireworks and a traditional “Lion Dance?”
The next category (at the bottom of page three mind you) is simply called “VEGGIE”. Presumably, this must mean “vegetable plates” or “vegetarian entrees”? With prices ranging from $6.50 to $10.00 for this nondescript Chinese “laundry list” of eight overpriced selections, one of which is entitled “VEGGIES DELIGHT”…leaving one to wonder; “what exactly delights a veggie”? Page four takes the reader from the delight of the veggies to “SIDES”. Sides include “EXTRA FORTUNE COOKIE” for fifteen cents; “CRISPY NOODLE BAG”; for seventy-five cents which sounds like an insulting remark made towards an elderly Chinese woman.” REGULAR FRIED RICE” (as opposed to “IRREGULAR FRIED RICE”?) for two dollars and twenty-five cents and “STEAMED RICE” for two dollars.
Yet another side that is offered is “BEVERAGES” for one dollar and seventy-five cents. Aren’t beverages commonly thought of as an accompaniment and not a side at all? At least not in this country (perhaps that’s where the “Hunan authenticity” takes play). Maybe in the Hunan-Szechwan Province of China it is customary to have a “side of coke” with your meal! They’ve also added parenthetically; (CAN ONLY W/ CUP OF ICE ON REQUEST)… (Can only what ..? w/ cup of ice on request)..?
Even though the dessert section says; “DESSERTS”, there’s only one..; “CHEESECAKE (PLAIN)” (assuredly an authentic Hunan Style Cheesecake and not a New York Jewish deli style cheesecake) for three dollars and twenty-five cents. A choice of one of three fruit toppings is available at fifty cents each. So the toppings are plural and not the dessert itself. This “finishing” of the meal must transcend one to the heart and soul of the Hunan-Szechwan region in some sort of out of body experience that one must usually seek out a Yogi or Chinese alchemic mystic to experience. But now you can experience it here in Downtown Dallas, Texas at The Hunan Express.