Heading to South Jersey for Old-School Chinese

Although this blog is focused heavily on sandwiches, I’ve periodically written about old-school Chinese restaurants – the type of places that have menus and decor out of the 1970s and 80s. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but I had the first of two such meals that have been planned for the next couple weeks at Hunan East of Turnersville, New Jersey. They’ve been serving up Americanized Cantonese-style Chinese food on the old Black Horse Pike since 1985 and have a classic look to match the era in which they started doing business. 

Turnersville, NJ

Hunan East offers most of my old favorite dishes – with the notable exception of the very-hard-to-find foil-wrapped chicken – but they have a scaled down lunch menu, as is often the case with Chinese restaurants. 

My two dining partners on this occasion were friends and former colleagues, Kamala and Helene, both of whom have been with me for several past meals that I’ve reported on. Helene ordered a sweet and sour pork lunch special that came with wonton soup. Kam and I opted for combination platters, which included both wonton soup and egg rolls. Her entrée was baby shrimp in Szechuan sauce, while I chose shrimp with lobster sauce, a dish that I’ve been eating for almost as long as my memory goes back. 

Hunan East’s scaled down lunch menu
I ordered the Combination Platter #3 with wonton soup.

We were presented with tea and fried noodles with duck sauce to hold us over until our soup arrived.

Although they were buried under the wontons and aren’t visible in the above photo, there were at least a couple small strips of pork in the soup’s tasty broth – but not as much as I’d like to see.

And we were just finishing off the soup when our entrées arrived. While they were enjoyable, I wasn’t thrilled to see the egg rolls served on the same plates as the main courses. It’s almost inevitable that sauce will wind up on a portion of the egg roll when that happens, and this time was no exception. I consider it to be better for meal pacing – as well as to keep the egg roll’s crust dry – when the egg roll is served between the soup and the entrée. 

On another serving note, Helene’s sweet and sour pork came with the sauce on the side. I’ve written on my preference for it to be served over the pork – or shrimp – at least when being eaten on site. That’s how I always ate it during the late twentieth century, but I understand it’s no longer the norm. 

Helene’s sweet & sour pork with pork-fried rice
Kamala’s baby shrimp in Szechuan sauce combination platter
My shrimp with lobster sauce combination platter
I always welcome the sight of pork inside an egg roll.
The lobster sauce was beautifully eggy.

Kam was complimentary of her Szechuan shrimp and I didn’t hear any complaints from Helene about her S&S pork. 

I was also generally pleased with my shrimp with lobster sauce, which was wonderfully eggy and had an abundance of peas. The one issue I had with it was the lack of ground pork. But again, while that was standard in this dish during my formative years, it is now just as likely to be absent as included.

As I alluded to at the start of this post, if all goes according to plan, I will be eating at another long-standing Chinese restaurant in a couple weeks. If my advance research is on target, that meal could feature a PuPu Platter that includes foil-wrapped chicken, something I haven’t seen since Bill Clinton – or possibly even H.W. Bush – was in the White House. That would be special indeed.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

5 thoughts on “Heading to South Jersey for Old-School Chinese

    1. It’s the same thing as General Tso’s Chicken. It may be more common in this area to see it called Grandpa’s or Grandfather’s Chicken, although this was the first time I’ve seen that in a while. It seems to me that it used to be more common.


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