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Raymond's Hong Kong Cafe

It has all the elements of your typical neighborhood Chinese restaurant: Strip mall location. General Tso and kung pao chicken. Fortune cookies accompanying the bill. The plastic dragon decoration that looks like it was ordered straight from the Oriental Trading catalog. But it is the nontraditional aspects of Raymond’s Hong Kong Café that allow it to stand apart. The menu goes beyond standard Chinese fare with dishes that range from Vietnamese (beef noodle soup) to American (crispy Cornish hen). The Portuguese-style baked chicken references Western European influences on Chinese cuisine with an assemblage of fried rice, peppers, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and squash all simmering together in a creamy bath of yellow curry sauce. Steam-filled clay pots provide a beautiful presentation for seemingly endless helpings of seafood, Szechuan-style eggplant, or chicken in a Malaysian curry sauce. And the cheese xango—a Mexican dessert of deep-fried cream cheese, drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with whipped cream—will haunt many future sweet-tooth cravings. Eclectic successes, however, should not suggest that the old standbys are merely tolerable. The Crab Rangoon wontons are the perfect balance of crispy outside and creamy inside. The Mongolian beef is tender with a subtle kick, nestled in a pile of plump and juicy veggies, and the lemon chicken belongs nowhere near a mall food court. It’s as if the menu graduated with a double major in Chinese and International Studies. Deciding what to order is a challenge, but at least you won’t be disappointed.

Raymond’s Hong Kong Café, 11051 Clay Dr., Walton, (859) 485-2828, hongkongcafe.us

Originally published in the November 2013 issue.