- 2601 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ, 85716
- Overall User Rating:
- (0 ratings)
- Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sat. 12-9:30 p.m., Sun. 12-9 p.m.
- Official Web Site:
What was ordered: Beef with broccoli lunch special ($5.50), teriyaki chicken lunch special ($5.50) and egg rolls ($2.75) for a total of $14.86, well within our Cheap Eats goal of a meal for two for less than $20.
Comments: The age-old, prototypical Americanized Chinese joint has taken a hit in recent decades with the emergence of lighter, perkier Asian fare—Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese and Malaysian.
But time-warped places such as Szechuan Omei trudge on, even with all their culinarily passe fundamentals, which can be more or less characterized by the most American and least Chinese of American Chinese mainstays—sweet and sour pork.
Sure, it’s heavily breaded, deep fried and sauced with no small amounts of white sugar, MSG and FD&C red food coloring.
But in small doses, an order of throwback sweet and sour pork, beef and broccoli, or moo goo gai pan can make for a pleasantly nostalgic lunch.
Like a lot of other standard Chinese joints, Szechuan Omei has basically been running on automatic pilot since the 1970s or earlier, with little or no updates or alterations. Locally sourced food? Forget it. Seasonally inspired offerings? Yeah, right. Open kitchens and modern table layouts? Give me a break.
Come on in and sit down in virtually the identical dining room with the identical menu and the identical tastes and smells you encountered the first time you ever set foot in a Chinese joint.
The beef with broccoli was just as we remembered, the spongy, soft beef slices, the limp broccoli, the salty, sweet, somewhat cloying sauce. The teriyaki chicken, no doubt made with the same breaded chicken chunks used for a host of other dishes, featured the type of teriyaki sauce you’d expect at this kind of place. Hold the red dye and add a little dark soy to the sweet and sour and you’ve basically got it. Thing is, both dishes (not to mention the sweet and sour pork) nicely imbue the starchy white rice into a satisfying, comfort-foodish meal.
Now owned by Golden Dragon, which has three other restaurants in town, Szechuan Omei has pinched the lunch specials down a bit from what you might remember. You no longer get your choice of soup, as the rather pedestrian egg flower soup comes with the special, but you pay an additional 75 cents if you want the hot and sour soup instead. I guess the price of dried mushrooms has gone up. You also get those skimpy little won tons instead of an egg roll.
At $5.50 per lunch special, we still had plenty of room in the Cheap Eats budget for an order of egg rolls ($2.75), which were nicely stuffed and fried, seemingly to the exact specifications that have held sway here for decades.
Service: Tableside service was prompt and pleasant.
Bar: beer and wine
Bottom line: There’s nothing earth-shattering about the lunch specials here but, conversely, there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, either, and sometimes, a nice, little non-earth-shattering lunch of age-old Americanized Chinese favorites hits the spot the way no other food can.