Extensive lunch menu at ABC Chinese fills you up without emptying your wallet
Business is brisk during the lunch hour at ABC Chinese Restaurant in a tidy Scotts Valley business park. More than 40 lunch specials include huge bowls of soup ($5.25) and main courses ($5.45 to $6.45) which are served with the appetizer and soup of the day, and fried or steamed rice.
The entire regular menu is also available during the four-hour luncheon, which assured us of adequate leftovers.
Wor Wonton Soup ($6.25), about four servings, included strips of red-tinged barbecue pork, crunchy water chestnuts, chunks of chicken, large shrimp, broccoli and scallions with seasoned ground pork-filled wontons in a perfectly salted broth.
Highly recommended was the chicken salad on the appetizer list. The half-size plate ($5.25) could feed three nicely as a starter. Much different from the recipe in the 1970s, which featured sesame oil and five-spice dressing, this one was simple and fresh. Chilled iceberg lettuce was tossed with bits of thin, puffed rice noodles, cilantro, sesame seeds, and ground peanuts. The chicken had been coated in tasty seasoned batter and coarsely diced.
Yu Shiang Beef ($8.45) featured thin tender slices of meat in a dark, tart and sweet sauce flecked with bits of chili, with slivers of onion, bamboo shoots, tree fungus mushrooms, bell peppers. Green onion gave it an earthy lift.
A loud cracking noise filled the restaurant when the kitchen door opened, announcing the arrival of the House Special Hot Pan Service. The waiter poured House Teppan Chicken Black Bean Sauce ($11.50) onto an oval cast iron griddle and poured the contents of the stir-fried dish onto the surface, not entirely avoiding the scalding spatter. In the dark sauce which bubbled fiercely, salted by tiny black beans with a strong fermented flavor, were cubes of white chicken, green bell peppers and squares of onion.
The Orange Chicken ($8.50) is worth a return visit. Chunks of battered and fried chicken were served in a dark, viscous sauce flavored with chili, green onion and orange zest.
The chewy Szechuan Beef ($8.45) was also starched and deep-fried, served on a bed of puffed rice noodles and coated with a tart, sweet chili sauce which was thick and sticky, but not overly piquant.
Savory Ginger Scallion Beef ($7.95) also included crisp and spicy white onions. The mildly spiced Kung Pao Chicken ($7.25) was topped with peanuts and featured bell peppers and crunchy water chestnuts with bits of ginger and red chilies.
ABC Chinese Restaurant, 219 Mount Hermon Rd # A2, Scotts Valley, 438-3406. Beer and wine. Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m.
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Thanks to a reader’s comment, I realized that the subtitle of the May 31 review of Haute Enchilada was extraordinarily misleading. While a great chef created the worldly recipes, which we all very much enjoyed, the reference to Spain’s great Chef Ferran Adrià in the article should have referred only to a beer. Estrella Damm Inedit, created by the el Bulli team to pair well with food, is served by the restaurant ($18 for 750 ml). My sincere apologies to both chefs.