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)
Herbal Essence -- The restaurant's interior walls are a deep cabernet and are highlighted by colorful artwork. Sparkly candles add romance. The clever, surprising menu here mixes and matches a variety of ingredients and flavors. Seafood stuffed 12-oz. ribeye ($24) was enormous and beautifully presented, with mashed potatoes forming a peak with a sprig of fresh rosemary on top. Sauteed squash added color and crunch, and the stuffing was deliciously rich in crab, shrimp and cheese. The coconut-crusted gulf prawns ($17.35) in a Key West sweet-and-sour sauce consisted of six jumbo prawns coated in coconut batter and pan-fried to a golden brown. The sauce was more sweet than sour and went well with the prawns. Our server was knowledgeable and very attentive. 115 N. Washington St. Call 838-4600. (LM)
Mootsy's North 9 -- The interior of Mootsy's North 9 is clean and offbeat, with original paintings and framed rock posters embellishing the richly colored walls. The menu features an interesting and tempting assortment of pizzas, sandwiches, and "extras." The sauces are handmade; pizza dough is hand-tossed. The toppings range from standard to gourmet. The North 9 ($8.25 / $18.95) is a spicy olive oil-based pie (no red sauce) topped with mozzarella, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, pine nuts and fresh basil. There's the Santa Fe ($6.75 / $17.95) with mozzarella and cheddar, lime-marinated chicken, black olive and red onion, and topped with fresh tomato and fresh cilantro. Take your pick from a total of 11. You really can't go wrong. 9 N. Washington St. Call 838-0260 (MC)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM), Mike Corrigan (MC) or Marty Demarest (MD), unless otherwise noted.