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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chi's Too can't quite break through

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 8:57 AM

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A few years ago, Chi's Too on Markham would have been perfectly acceptable Chinese take-out: it's quick, it's cheap, and while nobody would consider it gourmet, it's tasty enough. Unfortunately for Chi's, Little Rock has come a long way in terms of delicious Chinese that doesn't hit the pocketbook very hard. Midtown has Pei Wei, the P.F. Chang's spin-off that boasts ample portions in the $6-$10 range, and South University is home to the Chinese-food wonderland that is Mr. Chen's. Compared to these powerhouses, Chi's Too is just a distant also-ran, a throwback to a time when Chinese take-out was just a step above microwaving a TV dinner.

But all that's not to say that Chi's doesn't have its good points. First, the place will deliver to the surrounding neighborhood, and there are some nights where a drop-off in quality for convenience is an acceptable trade. The staff is generally quite friendly, and orders placed for pick-up or dine in arrive hot and fresh without much wait at all. As for the food...well, I don't want you all to get the wrong impression. Chi's food is perfectly fine. The pan-fried potstickers are tasty, if a touch soggy, and the kung pao chicken is savory and good nestled on its bed of fresh steamed broccoli. Less successful to me was the Sichuan beef, which lacked any sort of spice whatsoever. I understand that "Sichuan" is just a generic descriptive term in these parts, but I'd like to see a Chinese place in Arkansas actually do true Sichuan cuisine — the kind of pepper-laced deliciousness that burns to the point of numbness while exploding with flavor. Chi's version was a mild beef dish that only had a fresh crunch of onions to give it some pep.

All of this is not to say that Chi's should be avoided; it isn't nearly so bad as that. As a quick option for lunch, it's a perfect idea, and as I said before, the delivery option wins it a lot of points in my book. For something really excellent, though, there are just options that blow the place out of the water in terms of taste while coming in right at the same price point. Chi's Too was a place I really wanted to like (especially given its proximity to my house), but unless I'm feeling lazy I don't foresee myself heading to the place over other nearby options.

Chi's Too is located at 5110 W. Markham, and they are available for delivery from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. and again from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. Call 604-7777 to place your order.

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