One traditional dish features slender wild mushrooms (picked in Chou's home city and brought to her by her son) that appear with chunks of golden fried potatoes and tender pieces of chicken. With its aromatic broth, it's a rustic feast that will have you swooning. Another Dongbei classic, di san xian (loosely translating to "three delights from the Earth") is a stir-fry as straightforward as it is satisfying. Chunks of bright purple eggplant wedges, potatoes, and firm, fresh peppers tossed with vinegar and garlic make for what could be a habit-forming dish.

In Dongbei, the repetitiveness of starch is remedied with vinegar, a trademark of the cuisine. Found on every table at Chou's Kitchen, it can be used as a dipping sauce for juicy boiled dumplings and pot stickers and to liven up bland samp (cornmeal congee soup). Or, along with her homemade suan cai (salted, fermented cabbage that tastes like sauerkraut), it can pep up a warm broth of lamb and cellophane noodles. For the uninitiated, its intense flavor can be off-putting or, like Chou's cold smoked fish, an acquired taste.

The restaurant boasts a small, pleasant interior bathed in light green, adorned with photos of the food, and packed with several tables, mostly with chairs for four or more — appropriate, given the restaurant's primarily Mandarin-speaking customer base of families with little ones barely able to brandish their beef pies, 20-somethings in sneakers and hoodies sharing spicy plates of tasty cabbage salad and stir-fried noodles with jalapeños, and groups of salt-and-pepper-haired seniors catching up on the news of the day over a hearty bowl of za jiang mein (Chou's homemade thick wheat noodles topped with slices of salty ham and crunchy cucumber).

Unique dishes — possibly the only ones of their kind in the Valley — await at Chou's.
Jackie Mercandetti
Unique dishes — possibly the only ones of their kind in the Valley — await at Chou's.

Location Info

Map

Chou's Kitchen

910 N. Alma School Road
Chandler, AZ 85224

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Chandler

Details

Chou's Kitchen
910 North Alma School Road, Chandler
480-821-2888
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday

Beef pies (3): $4.98
Green bean jelly with vegetables: $7.98
Eggplant with potatoes and jalapeños: $7.98
Chicken and mushroom warm pot: $11.98

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The unfamiliar fare, bare-bones menu, and a language barrier may seem the ingredients of a daunting experience. But first-time diners should note that helpful service, usually from Rizzo, means experiencing an array of unique dishes from a region in China unknown to most. And at Chou's Kitchen's wallet-friendly prices, this culinary journey is an affordable one.

During your meal, you most likely will see Chou crafting her doughy creations behind a glass window for the day's dishes or for the freezer in the dining area, where many of her customers buy them by the bag to enjoy at home. For the pot stickers alone, Chou makes about 1,000 every day, she says.

Which may make Ping Chou queen of the "dough people." At least in Arizona.

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2 comments
Dominic Armato
Dominic Armato

I'm embarrassed I didn't know this place existed. Nice piece, great restaurant. These guys deserve even more attention.

Paul
Paul

Yummy review, Laura! (I'll have to bring it along to make sure I order the correct dishes!) I hope I pronounced everything correctly when I read this aloud for Sun Sounds, a service for persons who cannot read print due to a disability. It airs this Saturday night at 10:00. (If you know of someone who would benefit from this service or would like to support it, please visit www.SunSounds.org.)

 
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