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Friday, January 14, 2011

Newest Henry's Hunan Sticks to Well-Worn Formula

Posted By on Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 3:18 PM

click to enlarge The sixth outpost of Henry's 1970s original opened in the old Granada Cafe space in the Excelsior. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • The sixth outpost of Henry's 1970s original opened in the old Granada Cafe space in the Excelsior.

Established restaurants continue to expand in the Bay Area. We recently visited the newest location of Henry's Hunan, its sixth. Henry's is one of the oldest continuously family owned and operated restaurants in the city. The first launched in 1974.

Henry's 2-month-old Excelsior branch took over the space once belonging to Granada Cafe, a '50s-style diner with vinyl booths and Formica tables. Now there's a private dining room in back and a full bar in a separate room on the left side. Both are available for parties, says Eddie Zhu, the friendly grandson of company founder Henry Chung. Zhu and his wife manage this location.

click to enlarge Spicy chicken over rice ($6), a daily lunch special. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Spicy chicken over rice ($6), a daily lunch special.

It seems Outer Mission residents are taking a liking to the spicy cuisine from China's Hunan province. A few of the most popular dishes here are named after family members. There's Henry's special ($9.95), chicken, seafood, and vegetables stir-fried with a very spicy bean sauce. Diana's special meat pie (named for Henry's wife, $6.50), is like a deep-fried quesadilla, filled with thick, meaty sauce, vegetables, and Parmesan. And Marty's special ($8.50, named after Henry's son) is a stir-fry of smoked ham and chicken in black bean sauce.

Spicy chicken over rice ($6), one of four daily lunch specials, came with tea and a cup of hot and sour soup. It was spicy enough to drive away winter's chill, though not exactly sinus-clearing. (You can request a spicier or non-spicy version of any dish.) Brown rice is available for those who want more fiber in their diet, and we saw a few diners ordering wine. Clearly, after opening six restaurants, Henry's has figured out how to appeal to everybody.

Henry's Hunan: 4753 Mission (at Leo), 585-8838. Open daily, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

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Luis Chong

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