[ China ]

Gustatory surprises at Sunny’s Cafe

NOT all good food comes from restaurants with attractive and bright showcase windows and attentive food staff waiting outside to lure you in. Not in this particular restaurant anyway that is located beside a Laundromat, an Internet café and several other shops in San Antonio.

From the outside, it looked more like a warehouse of some sort and one would never think of venturing beyond its doors, but push open the green, printed glass doors and you’ll be in for a surprise — a splendid culinary feast that is unbelievably affordable than you would expect.

I have passed by this place several times in the past two years but somehow, I never thought of exploring until I received three emails recommending the place, plus word-of-mouth recommendations from those who have been there. Oh okay, so off we went at 2 p.m. on Saturday, not sure if the place was like the same as the others that ends lunchtime at 2 p.m. but it was miraculously open. The inside is just like an ordinary canteen, with round tables dominating the place and a small aquarium filled with guppy fish near the counter. A food staffer named Chen handed us menus and we browsed through it, wondering how tiny the servings were judging from the $1 to $10 prices advertised.

I ordered the sizzling tilapia which was brought to the table on a hot iron plate wrapped in foil and literally sizzling on a delicious sauce, and a huge serving of rice. I also tried the $8 spicy fried chicken with bones (without bones also available if you prefer), a perfect chaser for your favorite drink.

My out-to-eat buddies ordered the Bokchoy and mushrooms, a serving of egg fried rice, and crispy fried shrimps. Chen convinced us to try the breaded fried shrimp which was served on an attractive platter with white sauce in the center.

The place may not carry the best “restaurant atmosphere,” but the food is superb, the servings generous and the prices great.

The menu will give you a wide selection of “Sunny’s Greatest Hits,” (sounds like the cover of a song book) but these are all-time favorites ranging from $3 to $6 such as spicy shredded pork, roast duck or pork, spring rolls, noodles, fried fish sticks, and more — your choice of spicy or non-spicy food.

Try the clay pot specialties cooked in authentic Chinese cooking style such as mushroom chicken, pork intestine, seafood with tofu or mushrooms and spicy eggplant, or any of the Sunny’s Sizzlers served hot on an iron plate.

Get the soup of the day, fried dumplings, spring rolls, shao mai, fried wontons, spicy potato salad, cucumber, or papaya salad — all at $1 each. You can also order from the various bento meal sets for take-out between $5 to $6 such as the mapo tofu, roast pork, fried fish, shrimp vegetables and more. The bento sets include the main course, rice, soup, and side dishes.

Hot tea or ice tea, or soft drinks are available for $1, beer at $2 and Shaojiu at $5 each. Sunny’s Café serves everything hot and freshly prepared and you don’t have to wait forever for your order. Check it out and try their promise of “leaving Sunny’s with a full stomach and a big burp.”

Sunny’s Café is open from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. It is located a few yards past the former MGM Garment factory. Only cash is accepted for now. For reservations, call 235-6666.

This article was first published HERE

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