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Recent Eats: Mr. Chen’s, Blue Cake, & More

Recent Eats: Mr. Chen’s, Blue Cake, & More
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Thoughts from some of my recent eating experiences…

Granted, it was take-out, but last Mr. Chen’s experience was pretty average at best. The one bright spot was the General Tso’s Chicken, which had a night balance of sweet and spicy flavors, but everything else was lacking. The Beef Chow Fun was greasy, the Sweet and Sour Chicken was way too bready (almost to the point where I questioned if several pieces even had chicken inside), and the Sauteed String Beans were overcooked. I’ve enjoyed Mr. Chen’s in the past and I do realize it’s about finding the right dish and sticking with it. But I’m having a hard time finding the right dish. Is there even a right dish? And don’t say the Salty Chicken because that’s not my jam. I really want to like Mr. Chen’s, but the last couple of times have left a lot to be desired.

It’s just one visit, but officially count me as a fan of Zetêo Coffee in downtown. They use Onyx Coffee beans, which is probably the reason why I enjoyed my dark roast regular coffee so much. The place has a very clean, tranquil feel to it, much like that of the Onyx Coffee Lab up in Bentonville. My daughter crushed an affogato and gave it a thumbs up. I really like this coffee shop and won’t hesitate to go back soon.

Speaking of first visits … I finally tried out Sky Modern Japanese for lunch and was left wanting a bit more in the taste department. I decided to go healthy and ordered the Fried Tofu and Vegetables. The veggies were overcooked and fairly bland, as was the tofu. It wasn’t terrible but definitely not a dish I’d order again. My daughter’s Sushi Lunch Special came with a variety of offerings, but in the end, it was just your run-of-the-mill sushi. Again, not bad, but certainly not as good as some other nearby places like Mt. Fuji and Sushi Café. That said, some readers let me have it on social media and gave me some better options for my next visit. On the bright side, I did enjoy the Sky’s nice outdoor patio.

Keeping with the bland theme, the Chicken Burrito at Casa Manana was something I probably wouldn’t order again. The chicken was just under-seasoned and nothing about the other ingredients really stood out. The best thing about the meal were the complimentary chips, which, if you favor thicker cut tortilla chips, then I doubt you’ll find a better version in Little Rock. Those damn things are wildly addictive.

I’ve officially fallen in love with Blue Cake. And it might be a long term relationship. Seriously, those petit fours are just about the best baked goods from an actually bakery in Little Rock. The one that is a must-order is the Strawberry Cayenne, which has this perfect balance of flavors and a nice, slow burn from the cayenne. An order of four runs just under $10, which makes it a nice value, especially for such a great product.