Mr. Chen'sMr. Chen’s co-owner Sherry Chen is a part of the team that serves up authentic flavors in Hoover Court. Photo by Intisar Seraaj-Sabree.
Sherry Chen has received complaints not about her food but other Chinese restaurants. When they taste Mr. Chen’s authentic Chinese and Taiwanese food, they notice the freshness of the ingredients, she said. And for that, they come back.
With the help of local vegetables and frequently changed vegetable oil, the eatery tries to produce fresh-tasting and healthy dishes.
“People are more concerned about health issues,” said Chen, manager and co-owner of the U.S. 31 restaurant.
By combining the spicy Chinese Szechuan cooking style with the light and sweet Taiwanese cooking style, the restaurant’s chefs create lighter and less fatty dishes, decreasing the levels of cholesterol.
This combination of traditional cooking styles creates a flavor similar to the food in parts of southern China. Customers appreciate this authenticity, especially those who have tasted authentic Chinese food before, Chen said.
With their cuisine, her husband’s yearnings to be back in China lessen.
“Before this restaurant, every summer [my husband] went back to China and he always missed the Chinese food,” Chen said. “But now [that] we have Mr. Chen’s here, he’s not getting that homesick.”
It was home that the co-owner and previous owner of the Red Pearl Restaurant on Green Springs Highway, Wlung Chen, had in mind when he opened the restaurant in 2009. He saw the need for authentic Chinese food in Hoover and wanted to introduce traditional recipes to locals.
Due to his time as a chef at The Summer Palace in Beijing, Wlung was extensively acquainted with traditional Chinese dishes and cooking styles.
Now authentic Chinese food like shredded beef bean curd with cilantro, whole flounder in hot bean sauce and sautéed sweat pea leaves is within reach in the area.
Other best-selling dishes include pan fried or steamed dumplings, boiled fish in hot oil, eggplant with basil pork, and stir fried pork with squid.
Mr. Chen’s also has locations in Jackson, Miss. and Tuscaloosa, Ala. In December, a fourth location will open in Montgomery, Ala., Sherry said.
Wlung and Jianxin Zhu, the third co-owner, will continue put their focus into strengthening each location by providing fresh, healthy and authentic Chinese food for customers.
“I’m really happy when customers come here, and after they eat [their] food they are very satisfied,” Sherry said. “That’s what I like to hear.”