The board behind the counter at Hong Kong Restaurant on Zebulon Road has everything you would expect from a Chinese take-out restaurant. The moo shu, the egg foo young, the chow mein, they're all there.And if you're looking for run-of-the-mill, average, "Americanized" Chinese food, use the board. However, if you want something that's a little more adventurous and authentic, go with the specials.
When you enter Hong Kong Restaurant, you will walk to the counter to place your order then wait for it at one of the formica booths or tables. As we waited, we noticed that many people chose to place take-out orders. The business seemed to come in waves, either they were very busy or very not. The beverages are self-service but the employees are very attentive and make sure you have everything you need.
The board to the right of the door as you enter advertises the Thai specialties and their lunch specials. While the items on the Chinese specials did not impress us, there was an item on the Thai side that we really enjoyed. The Sweet Basil Leaves with Shrimp and rice was fragrant, light and unusual. As we would taste the Kung Po and be disappointed, our forks would float over the perfume of the basil leaves back to that dish and all was forgiven. Even the shrimp in that dish seemed better prepared, but it was probably just the originality and favor we had for it that made us less critical.
The only two items on the regular menu that we enjoyed were the order of spring rolls and barbecue spare ribs, but they were nothing out-of-the-ordinary. The egg rolls were not especially enjoyed, nor were the fried wontons, dumplings or chicken wings. The other ordinary dishes we tried were the Chicken with Broccoli, Shrimp Fried Rice and General Tao's Chicken. Each of these dishes were passable but no better than any other Chinese restaurant's.
Usually in this space, I write advice for the consumer, not the producer. In this case, I'd like to encourage the owners of Hong Kong Restaurant to build on what we found to be the standout item during our meal. Don't give us more of the same-old same-old. Give us more Sweet Basil Leaves and dishes like it. Someone in your kitchen has a wonderful pallet and imagination, encourage it.
Keep the top 20 items on your menu that your regular customers can't do without, but don't offer your clientèle 100 items they could find in the frozen section of the nearby Kroger. Take that sweet basil dish and run with it. Give us more specials, find out that we like unusual, authentic dishes, give us something new in Macon. If you want the same business you've had, keep doing what you're doing. If you want to build a reputation as an authentic, crowd-drawing restaurant, which that dish proves you are capable of, give us something new.