Behind the blackjack tables at Palace Station awaits a lesson for many Americans who think they like traditional Chinese food. At Food Express II, only the language on the menu concedes to Western influence. Here — as back in owner Chi Leung’s Cantonese hometown — pork is served with skin, rice is brown only because it’s fried, and chop suey … what’s that?
“Traditional, authentic Chinese food is very hard to define,” says restaurant manager Albert Wong. “But they try it and they will find out the difference.”
Since 1993, Food Express, 2003 S. Decatur Blvd., has been one of the most traditional restaurants outside Chinatown.
“Basically, location isn’t as important as food,” Wong says. “If the food’s good, customers will come to your restaurant.”
Leung was wooed by Station Casinos to open a second restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Chang’s. Here, traditional silk needlepoints line the walls and the tables and chairs are considerably fancier than the fast-foodie Decatur location.
As with the original location, however, some things are judged too authentic for American tastes. These have to be ordered off-menu.
For example, Wong says, Chinese people like all pork dishes served on the bone.
“They say it tastes better,” he says. “But they have to order it special that way.”
The restaurant seats 80, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. at 2411 W. Sahara Ave. Reservations are recommended, but not required.
Signature dish: Ginger and onion chicken, $12.95
Starters: Rainbow jellyfish, $10.95; house special crispy fried shrimp bowl, $8.95; minced chicken lettuce wraps, $11.95
Entrees: Ginger scallion oyster in clay pot, $13.95; baked crab with salt and pepper and XO sauce, $35; sea bass with tofu in hot pot, $16.95
Desserts: Green beans with tapioca, complimentary
By COREY LEVITAN