My children, when small, created pet names for their favorite places. There was the Slide Park, the Duck Park, and Red Chinese. This moniker referred not to politics, but to the interior color scheme of King Chwan Chinese Restaurant.
Today, red tassels still hang from the lamps, but the room is light and airy, with sheer white café curtains and softly colored valances on the windows, and elegant blue upholstery.
Unchanged, however, is my favorite dish, Chicken with Garlic Hot Sauce ($8.55). Recently a weekday lunch hour Business Entrée Special included rice and either eggroll or soup at no charge with the purchase of any of the extensive menu’s entrées.
I was pleased that hot and sour soup was the day’s selection. Thickened broth, teeming with crunchy bamboo shoots, tofu, and shreds of mushroom was mildly spicy, tart, and piping hot. Soon the meal arrived with a large plate of steaming rice. Thin, tender slices of white chicken, rounds of sweet water chestnuts, lightly stir-fried carrots and zucchini, and soft pieces of cloud ear fungus were tossed with a dark salty sauce. Flecked with red chili flakes and seeds, along with minced ginger and garlic, I had plenty left to take home.
King Chwan also offers a number of its entrées in smaller portions as Luncheon Specials, which are served with steamed rice. Hunan Chicken ($6.95) is one of the options. This rich dish includes sliced vegetables with battered and deep fried chicken in decadent sweet and sour sauce.
You can also depend on King Chwan for hot take-out any day of the week.
King Chwan Chinese Restaurant, 415 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 429-5898. Beer and wine. Open daily at 11 a.m., and until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Visit kingchwan.com.