A scrumptious new year at Han Palace

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Warwick’s Han Palace Chinese Restaurant has been one of the area’s favorite restaurants for as long as I can remember. One reason is the excellent cooking and presentation of Cantonese, Szechuan and Hunan cuisine. The other is the friendliness, helpfulness and good cheer of manager Keith Lau and his staff.

Where better to spend Chinese New Year than Han Palace?

Keith walked around the busy restaurant greeting new and old friends and explaining some special menu items that had been added for the Year of the Rooster.

A group of us from the Beacon were enjoying a dish of tender pork with what five of us insisted were potatoes.

“Those are not potatoes,” insisted John Howell.

Now, in the over 40 years that I have been writing for John, I have never disagreed with him. I’m a food writer. I know a potato when I eat one.

John called Keith to the table for clarification. Keith told us what they were, in a Chinese word none of us understood. So he drew us a picture on a napkin. Still not convinced, we waited patiently as he went into the kitchen and brought back a plant he was growing in his backyard garden.

They still tasted like potatoes, but we had to admit that our publisher was right. As usual.

Our favorite dishes that evening were lobster in a special sauce and the crab Rangoon appetizers, which were quickly consumed.

The secret is in the sauces at Han Palace, whether you like your food hot, spicy, sweet or sour.

Whether you like your shrimp with garlic sauce (Joyce’s favorite), with curry (my favorite), Kung Po, Hunan or Sha Cha style, or with ginger and scallions, you won’t find it any better than Han Palace.

On their regular menu, shrimp dishes range from $10.25 for shrimp with almond or cashew to $11.50 for butterfly shrimp.

The chef cooks the beef dishes with many of the same accoutrements. I have never had such tender beef, never overcooked.

You can always count on the standard Chinese fare, like combination plates, lo mein, fried rice, egg foo young and egg rolls.

My advice is, go for the house specials because they are very special.

From the sesame chicken ($9.50), made with the chef’s special brown sauce to the Hawaii 5 “0” ($17.50), the ultimate dining experience, complete with chunks of lobster, shrimp, filet beef, roast pork and chicken with mixed vegetables.

Han Palace, at 2470 West Shore Road, is open Sunday to Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 to 11 p.m.

They do a big take-out business, but we prefer the coziness and friendliness of eating in their dining room. And yes, they have a full bar, and the bartender knows how to make all of those specialty drinks.

Their phone numbers are 738-2238 and 738-2239.

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