My friends Jerry, Mark and Charlie have praised Hunan L’Rose in Odenton as one of the best Chinese restaurants that they have come across in central Maryland (with many Chinese restaurants closer by to where they live in Laurel, it says something that they’ll drive a half hour to eat at Hunan L’Rose!) I agreed to join them recently for dinner one evening so I could find out what all the hubbub was about!
I found that Hunan L’Rose operates out of a store front in a strip mall set of stores anchored by a grocery store. Inside, the restaurant is stylish and feels upscale with etched mirrors on the walls and crisp white table cloths topped by pink napkins on the tables at dinner. Equally nice, our server provided a complementary pot of hot tea (and even before we had ordered!)
For starters, Jerry and myself had the hot and sour soup ($3/cup). This soup with a good balance of hot and sour (which can be missing from many a cup that I’ve tried at different restaurants) convinced me that my friends weren’t over praising Hunan L’Rose.
Mark had a favorite appetizer, Fried Meet Dumplings (6 for $6 and he was nice enough to share one of the 6 dumplings with me – I could see why he liked them) Charlie opted for the Hunan Spicy Tangy Wontons (8 for $6). He was also nice enough to share one with me too – Wow, I found out that they were delicious! They sure deserved their long name! (I’ve not run into these elsewhere and I could see why these alone could motivated a person to want to re-visit the restaurant!
For my entree, I stayed with basics and ordered the Hunan Chicken ($12). The generous serving included pieces of white meat chicken with mushrooms, broccoli and bambood shoots in a brown sauce. (While this item was noted as spicy on the menu, my “hot and sour” soup was spicier and “hotter” than my entree)
Charlie and Mark decided to go with items from the “Specials” menu. Charlie had the “Three Green with Shrimp” ($17); the three greens included Asparagus, Snow Peas & String Beans.
Mark’s Kung Pao Two Delights ($16) included a heaping mound of Shrimp, Chicken & Peanuts.
Jerry decided on “Twice Cooked Beef” ($13) with sliced beef sautéed with green pepper, onion, cabbage, black mushrooms and bamboo shoots in tangy spicy sauce. (I got to sample a bit of his dish and I found that reality was that it was less spicy than I might have expected from the menu description – I’m guessing if you really do want a spicy dish to be spicy you need to make that clear to your server!)
During our meal, I was impressed with the attention that we received from the staff – Water glasses were refilled in a timely fashion without having to ask and it was clear that the staff while unobtrusive was ready to assist us if we needed anything.
One of the special moments for me of my meal at Hunan L’Rose came at the end of our meal when our server brought us hot washcloths to clean up with and a small taste of orange sherbet mixed with vanilla ice cream! (I seriously wondered why I don’t recreate the sensual experience of wiping my hands and face with the hot, moist towel when it could be so easily and quickly re-created by putting a clean wet wash cloth in my microwave for 30-60 seconds!!!)
Between the pleasant dining room, attentive staff, good (and at times exceptional…) food, plus the pleasant bonuses of complementary hot tea, a moist hot cloth and a taste of something cool and sweet at the end of my meal, I understood why my friends were willing to drive 30 minutes to dine at Hunan L’Rose!
FACTS: Hunan L’Rose, Odenton, 1131 Annapolis Road; 410-672-2928; http://www.hunanlrose.com ; Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner from 11 am to 10 pm; Full Bar; Vegetarian Options; Adjacent free parking