Chow Bella

Cafe: Hope Kee

There are some (namely just us) who would call us asian food enthusiasts. Dim sum? Yes, please. Udon? Slurped loudly with chop sticks. We know where fish sauce comes from and it makes us want to eat it even more.

That's why we're salivating like bakas (idiots in Japanese) and the mere thought of a new eatery filled with asian delicacies. We speak, of course, of this week's Café column on Hope Kee.

Food Critic Michele Laudig on Hope Kee:

Hope Kee is the perfect place to plot your shopping strategy, and frankly, it's so good that you'll likely lose track of time as you enjoy plates of Chinese barbecue and fragrant Cantonese cuisine. Situated inside the Peoria outpost of Lee Lee Oriental Grocery Store, the multi-ethnic market whose elder sibling is based in Chandler, it's partitioned off from the store, but not so much that you can't see the sign for the produce department from your table or booth.

However, it's easy to block out the bustling grocery store, once you glimpse the focal point of Hope Kee's casual dining room. You see it as soon as you walk in, a brightly lit glass case filled with all kinds of Chinese barbecue -- cuts of pork, shaded dark red from their aromatic glaze, racks of ribs, and several whole roast ducks hanging in a row, their crispy skin glistening a deep chestnut color. This alone is reason to come here.

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Jonathan McNamara