It seems that, again and again, the best places to eat are in strip malls. Cafe 21 and Leela Thai are recent examples I’ve tried in the area. Another one I was thoroughly surprised by was Lucy’s North China Cuisine on 32nd Avenue South in Fargo.
It’s an unassuming place with an easy-to-overlook small red sign on the front. It’s been open for a little over two and a half years.
A friend and I hit the place up for an early lunch and found the system of the restaurant interesting. You grab a menu from the front where there’s a cashier stationed. Also up there is a small buffet set-up. You take a look at the menu, find what you want, and order it from the cashier. It’s a quick and efficient way of doing things by forgoing waiters.
I noticed the specials written on the white board up front and saw a braised fish offering that I had to try. It came with tons of spices and squares of tofu and rice.
We also ordered the scallion pancake, fried spring rolls and the garlic chicken combo.
Right after you order, the cooks in the back get to work. And they are among the fastest I’ve ever seen. Within five minutes, food started arriving.
The scallion pancake was delicious, albeit a bit undercooked. It came with a salty soy-based sauce that really didn’t offer much more to the savory and crispy-in-parts pancake. I would easily order it again.
Next were the fried spring rolls. They were cooked well, but were really not anything special.
My fish entree came out quickly after that. The generous portion of fish was delicious and extremely tender. But the oily sauce that it came in was a bit off-putting, as were the crunchy and uncooked spices that were thrown on top. It was like eating eggshells, actually. The tofu was also hard to eat, falling to bits when I tried to scoop it up with chopsticks. But the main part of the dish, the fish, was good.
I found the garlic chicken to have a weird charcoal taste to it that was not appetizing.
This was my first time at Lucy’s and there were definitely some minuses. But to find a place that churns out actual, authentic Chinese food for a competitive price? That’s worth going back to explore. And that’s exactly what I’ll do.