I've had the opportunity to go to a local Chinese restaurant that's been reviewed well called Hunan Manor a couple of times. They have a really nice lunch special during the week that gives you a soup plus entree with rice. You get a good amount of food for a fairly affordable price.
For my first go around I got the Mapo Tofu with Hot and Sour soup.
The hot and sour soup is pretty standard for what you'd find in most Chinese restaurants. There's less stuff in the soup as you might normally find, but it's a satisfying soup. It has a good spice kick, and it has just the right amount of sourness to match. The tofu slices and tofu skin absorbed the flavor of the soup well. The only drawback is that I found a gray-ish blob near the bottom of the container and thought a piece of pork fell into my bowl. Instead it was a blob of cornstarch loaded with white pepper. It was a pretty bad experience, but it didn't make the soup bad.
The mapo tofu was tasty. There was a good amount of heat to the dish, and you could really taste the black bean portion of the black bean chili sauce. My only gripe was that it was a touch heavy on the salt. Overall it was a good dish that the rice soaked up nicely. I do prefer M's home cooked version more, though.
For my second lunch I opted for the Prawns with Hot and Spicy sauce and the Wonton Soup. I figured that since I was feeling a bit under the weather the wonton soup might be best.
The broth was nice and rich. You could definitely taste that it was a bone broth base, but I couldn't tell if it was pork or beef bones. The two wontons had a really sticky and doughy texture that wasn't all that appealing, and the pork interior was pretty dry. They completed the broth with scallions and wood ear mushrooms. I'll probably go back to hot and sour soup for my next visit.
There were 5 fairly large prawns with this dish, and as you can see from the picture, the hot and spicy sauce was no lie. There were garlic slices, ginger pieces, and scallions in the sauce along with a ton of sliced up dried red chilis. There was a bit of soy sauce mixed in as well to add a touch of salt. The prawns themselves were battered and fried, but the sauce obviously made the batter soggier. I did like that there wasn't too much salt in this dish as you could really taste the sweetness of the prawns. I tested out eating a couple of the slices of red chili to see what they were like, and they packed a HUGE wallop. Learned my lesson there. Overall this was a tasty dish, but I don't think I'd get it again.
Overall I totally see why Hunan Manor is so well thought of. The food, even for mass produced lunch specials, are very tasty. I can't wait to try the specialty Hunan dishes as time goes on.