Report Card: Hunan Lion

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Hunan Lion on Urbanspoon
www.hunancolumbus.com

Overall Grubgrade B+

The Breakdown:

Atmosphere: Grade B:  Once you enter Hunan Lion’s front door, there is no doubt that you are in a Chinese restaurant.  The décor matched the cuisine perfectly, from the wall hangings to the numerous vases in the lobby.  The restaurant was quiet and clean, and tables were spaced far enough apart that we didn’t have to listen in on the adjacent table’s dinner banter (whew).  I can’t stand being seated so close to the next table that I inadvertently get to hear their family history (take notes, Cheesecake Factory).  Appearance wise, Hunan Lion is one of the classier Chinese restaurants we have visited.

High marks:  Clean, quiet, tables nicely spaced

Low marks:  Nothing out of the ordinary or eye catching.

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Service: Grade B:  The service was good at Hunan Lion.  It was not, however, superb.  We generally save high marks in this category for restaurants  where the servers really engage the patrons.  This was not the case at Hunan Lion.  This probably has a lot to do with the language barrier, but our server came across as uninterested with us, even though she took care of all of our needs.  There was minimal wait for food and drinks.

High marks:  Server was attentive, minimal wait for food and drinks

Low marks:  Nothing special about service

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Food/Spirits:  Grade B+:  If you have read other reviews of Hunan Lion (and most of them are very positive) and came here looking for something different, move along.  Hunan Lion gets good reviews for food for a good reason, they have really good food.  I am not a huge fan of Chinese cuisine, but Katina would eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Most of the impressions of the food are hers, so if you disagree, yell at her!  We ordered both spring rolls and Crab Rangoon for appetizers.  The spring rolls were enormous, and the Crab Rangoon was some of the best we’ve had.  Unlike most Crab Rangoon, this had a generous amount of filling, and the flavor of the filling was well balanced (not to crabby, not to cream cheesy).  Katina ordered a Scorpion for her drink, and she found it tasty, fruity, and strong.  I selected the Mango Mojito for my drink, and though it tasted just like a mojito.  I found myself looking on the floor in case I dropped the mango somewhere.  For her entrée, Katina ordered the Szechuan Chicken, and I ordered the Mala Lamb for my entrée.  We ordered both dishes with extra meat (a $2.00 upcharge, but worth it) and were warned by the server that both dishes were spicy.  Katina found the Szechuan Chicken to be flavorful.  The sauce had a nice garlic flavor and was not nearly as spicy at the server led us to believe, and the amount of sauce was generous.  The chicken was tender and well prepared.  The Mala Lamb was also very well prepared, with a nice, flavorful sauce that was not too spicy.  It had a nice garlic flavor, with the occasional presence of a pepper that would kick the heat up a couple of notches.  I can’t stand getting a dish with 5 pieces of meat and a pound of vegetables…most dishes in Chinese restaurants are unbalanced in this aspect, in my opinion.  The dishes at Hunan Lion had a perfect balance of meat and vegetables.   Both Katina and I found the amount of rice provided with the meal to be on the stingy side.

High marks:  excellent preparation, excellent drinks, good balance of meat/veggies, flavorful sauce

Low marks: stingy on the rice

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Value:  Grade A:  Drinks were not watered down, and portion size was quite generous.  Again, Hunan Lion needs to be a little more generous with the rice, but going forward we will know to order extra.  For a Chinese restaurant, the food is a little pricey, but the quality makes it worth it.

High marks: generous portions

Low marks: pricey, but worth it

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