I'm sure the staff at Hong Kong Alley's Kitchen were just trying to be nice. They were effusive in their greeting when I walked into the strip mall storefront restaurant on East Colonial Drive. And the young man who took my order had a smile on his face at all times.
But no one could quite believe me when I told them, multiple times, I didn't need the fork they kept trying to place on my table. The chopsticks were fine, I said. Not showing off, I just think Chinese food tastes better when the proper utensils are utilized. And I eat less.
I had stopped in on a whim, noticing as I drove by the banner out front announcing Dim Sum, Roast Duck and Crispy Pork.
Since it was noon, a lunch special menu was in effect, which allowed for an ample array of the restaurant's signature dishes along with a choice of soup or egg roll and white or fried rice. I went with soup -- the egg drop -- and pork fried rice to go with my main course of Hunan Chicken.
The soup was a deep yellow and had feathery wisps of egg. It was a bit too thickened for my tastes -- I prefer that my soup not jiggle -- but it was hot and the flavor was good.
The Hunan Chicken featured bite-sized pieces of meat sauteed with broccoli florets, snow peas, baby corn and red bell pepper chunks. Although it's generally meant to be a spicy dish, this one was more subdued. I don't know if that's the way it's always done or if the kitchen was toning it down, the equivalent of giving me a fork.
The pork fried rice was delicious and had nice chewy hunks of meat in it, as well as bits of egg and scallions.
I also couldn't resist ordering something from the dim sum menu, presented in both written and pictorial versions. The offerings are also split into small, medium, large and weekend specials headings. I had the Steamed Roast Pork Bun, which, though from the small section, was a large enough serving to take some home for later. The delicate balls of dough were filled with a well seasoned barbecue mixture.
The dining room is spacious and tastefully appointed. Tables are covered with cloths topped with glass. Red lanterns hang from the suspended-panel ceiling. If you step around to the back of the dining room, you'll see the roast ducks hanging in a display case.
I'm glad I stumbled upon Hong Kong Alley's Kitchen. I almost took a different route that day and I might never have noticed it. I'm glad I took the right fork in the road.
Hong Kong Alley's Kitchen is at 10663 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-969-0886.