It’s no secret to anyone who knows me, that I really love Asian food. Growing up in the Seattle area where there was a large Asian community, afforded me the opportunity to experience all kinds of regional Chinese fare including Mandarin, Cantonese and Szechuan. But in the early days, (I’m not divulging how long ago) Chinese restaurants in Western Washington were not as abundant as they are today. Our family had to drive from Bellevue, over the I-90 bridge to downtown Seattle’s Chinatown (now called the International District), to get our Chinese food fix. And we usually made it a whole family affair. My aunts, uncles and all the cousins would go to Eight Immortals, our favorite place, and sit around a huge round table with a Lazy Susan in the middle. Great memories and great food!

My favorite Chinese dish has got to be Szechuan Kung Pao Chicken. Why? Because it has everything I like in an Asian dish; succulent chicken, veggies, hot peppers, a spicy sauce and a crunchy peanut topping. So when I check out a new Chinese restaurant, it’s always what I try first. And, when I went to J’s Asian Flaming Grill in Terrace Heights, that’s exactly what I ordered.

Attempting to be carb conscious, I ordered it without rice. From what I have found, most places give you more food than you can eat in one sitting anyway. However, they immediately asked if I would prefer a salad instead and I said yes.

The salad was more of a slaw. Shredded cabbage, some carrot and a little green onion in a creamy, slightly sweet and tart sauce. The slaw was crisp and fresh and a perfect starter to my meal. And, the portion was easily enough for two!

While enjoying my cool slaw-salad, they were hand-making my Kung Pao on their open-flame grill. Sizzle sounds filled the air along with some great aromas. When the plate arrived at my table, I was delighted to see so many veggies in the dish. Onions, carrots, baby corn, broccoli, bamboo shoots, zucchini, and red and green peppers. I couldn’t wait to dive in. With my first bite, I was in love. Everything was cooked perfectly, the chicken was very tender and the sauce was rich and spicy with a touch of sweetness. The peanuts were mixed in, giving every other bite some added saltiness and crunch.

I’m sure that if I went to the Szechuan province of China, they may not even have Kung Pao as we know it in the states. But, I know what I like and this Chinese dish was — Zài sìchuān hěn hao (very good)!

J’s Asian Flaming Grill has a fairly large menu, including favorites like pot stickers, yakisoba, fried rice and General Tso’s chicken, to name a few. They offer seating inside and have a drive through for that grab-and-go Chinese takeout meal. And if you find yourself in the Tri-Cities, they have a location in Kennewick to try as well.