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by Inlander Staff


Ming Wah -- At Ming Wah, familiar Chinese-American dishes are created and served with an extraordinary level of care, precision and speed -- and at throwback prices. The restaurant is cozy with spotless pink Formica tables, dark paneling and red Naugahyde booths. The lunch menu features eight different three-item combination lunches with (egg drop soup and tea included) for $3.75-$4.50. The almond fried chicken featured bite-sized pieces of fried white-meat chicken covered with creamy white gravy and sprinkled with chopped toasted almonds. The subgum chow mein was outstanding, with diced chicken and veggies in a delicate sauce over crunchy noodles. The egg foo young was delicious, topped with a dollop of brown gravy and barbecued pork. Simply put, this is some of the best Chinese food you'll find anywhere in Spokane. The service, too, is excellent. 1618 W. Third Ave. Call 455-9474. (MC)





The Chalet -- With an interior like a ski lodge, this Alpine-themed South Hill institution is as soothing as a cup of Swiss Miss. The Eggs Benedict ($6.29) was perfect, served atop crispy English muffins with just the proper intermingling of thinly sliced ham, poached eggs and ever so slightly tart Hollandaise sauce. The French Toast and Egg plate ($5.49) arrived with two slices halved and arranged on the side of the plate, while a central whole slice provided the foundation for a poached egg in a small dish; two sausages were lined up front and rear. The French toast had a delicious buttery flavor and was among the best in the taster's recollection. The server struck that magical balance between hovering and neglect, achieving a perfect level of attentiveness. 2918 S. Grand Blvd. Call 747-6474. (Sheri Boggs)





Cap'n Juicy's Super Duper Weenies -- A hot dog is a hot dog is a hot dog, right? Not at Cap'n Juicy's, where you walk up to the order window and choose from creations featuring the standard-sized all-beef New York deli-style dog, or, for about a buck more, one of the quarter-pounders -- kosher hot dog, kosher Polish sausage, Longhorn German sausage and Red Hook Beer-basted bratwurst. The $2.69 New York Coney (with chili sauce, mustard and onions over a kosher dog) is satisfying with mildly spicy meat sauce and sweet, diced onions. The $2.69 Reuben Classic (sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and special mustard over a Polish sausage) came with a blanket of kraut-laced melted real Swiss filling the bun gap above a moist Polish sausage. Big and juicy they are, so grab lots of napkins. 114 N. Howard St. Call 455-6750 (MC)





Asian Restaurant -- The philosophy of simplicity is reflected in the d & eacute;cor of the Asian Restaurant, which is utilitarian and unpretentious. The lunch menu sports an affordable assortment of Chinese, Thai, and American dishes. The $5.50 Pod-Sa-Iue (rice noodle, beef and broccoli) and the $6 chicken curry were well prepared but very mild in heat and a little bland. The $5 No. 3 Chinese combo (almond chicken with pork fried rice and pork chow mein) came with all-white meat chicken breast, drenched in what appeared to be cornmeal, covered in brown gravy and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Service was quick, friendly and helpful. 5306 W. Sunset Hwy., Call 747-5760. (MC)





Downriver Grill -- The Downriver Grill (a locally owned neighborhood spot on the North Side) occupies a former florist's shop just a little past Audubon Park on Northwest Boulevard. The interior is sleek and modern but warm and inviting. The Tuscan pasta salad, with penne pasta, feta, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and kalamata olives ($6 half, $8 whole) was a meal in itself. The yellowfin tuna entree ($14) was served with avocado and mango salsa, couscous and saut & eacute;ed vegetables. Cooked as ordered, it was quite tasty, and the mango salsa had just the right blend of sweet and tart. Service was unfailingly attentive, courteous and lighthearted. This place was packed on a Sunday night, so plan ahead. 3315 W. Northwest Blvd. Call 323-1600. (LM)





Cheddar Chad's Hot Dog Cart -- Eating on the cheap. Yep, we're all for it. Chad Rattray is the smiling face behind the hot dog cart on the northeast corner of Howard and Riverside (in front of the Bank of America). Every day from 11 am-3 pm he's serving up sausages in buns. It's as simple as that. There's the popular Dollar Dog, The Jumbo and the Polish sausage ($2 each), the German ($2.50) and the smoked sausage ($3). Add a bag of chips and a can of soda to any dog for a buck more. The German sausage with sauerkraut, onions and self-applied sweet hot mustard had a satisfying bite. It made for a tasty and incredibly inexpensive lunch. At the corner of Riverside and Howard. (MC)





Paprika -- Paprika is home to some of the most inventive dishes in the Inland Northwest. Even the appetizer list harbors intrigue. Included are fresh-roasted local porcini mushrooms with gremolata served over grilled toast ($8) and roasted artichoke stuffed with saffron-potato puree and topped with toasted bread crumbs ($7). Entrees are just as creative. The seared pepper-crusted ahi tuna ($22) was teamed up with horseradish mashed potatoes, grilled onions and a fresh tomato vinaigrette. The roasted spring chicken with morel mushrooms ($19) was moist and flavorful. 1228 S. Grand Blvd. Call 455-7545 (LM)





UpStage Supper Club -- You don't need to sign up for theater to sample the quisine of Chef Kile Tansy (formerly of Quinn's) as the third floor of the old Odd Fellows Hall on West First is now open for dinner. The Scallops Mornay appetizer ($10) was generous, with meaty scallops in a delicious sauce under a blanket of melted cheese, served with thin French bread toasts. The Spice Island Tuna ($17) was a monumental portion of two yellow fin tuna steaks, with a thick rub of a pungent spice mixture served over a delectable, creamy coconut-almond rice. On top of the whole thing was a generous amount of a colorful fresh mango salsa. Some lightly steamed spinach grounded this beautiful and very tasty plate. Look for the menu items to change about every three months. 1017 W. First. Call 747-8243. (LM)





Far West Billiards -- This is much more than merely a prime spot to get in a game of 8-ball. Far West is an easygoing neighborhood joint with a good jukebox, good booze, friendly servers and interesting chow. The fish taco platter ($8) comes with two white corn tortillas stuffed with lightly battered fried cod strips, spring greens and a wonderfully tangy feta-yogurt sauce, servings of fresh guacamole and pico de gallo salsa and a heap of tri-colored tortilla chips. The Pasta Carbonara ($8) is the perfect size for lunch and comes with a little cup of mixed field greens. The pasta was a nice toothsome al dente, and the sauce excelled with little bits of salty, savory prosciutto blended into the Alfredo sauce. 1001 W. First Ave. Call 455-3429 (MC)





The Catacombs -- The Catacombs' menu features interesting appetizers and salads, and hearty fare such as brick oven-baked thin-crust pizzas and calzones. Mediterranean pizza ($10.50) with chicken, artichoke hearts, red onions, mozzarella, garlic and white sauce was generous and tasty but lacked pizzazz. The porco con I Faioli ($18) with tender pork cutlets, cannelloni beans, tomato sauce and fresh herbs over roasted vegetable polenta was sheer perfection. Great wine and beer selection and good service, too. 110 S. Monroe St. Call 838-4610. (LM)





Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM), Mike Corrigan (MC) or Marty Demarest (MD), unless otherwise noted.





Publication date: 02/05/04

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