Soochow Chinese Cuisine House656 E Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431
Our waitress at Soochow, a Chinese restaurant in Sparks, was incredibly sweet and spoke very little English. This isn’t a situation you run into around town very often. You run into language barriers at some of the Mexican restaurants, but Reno sustains a large enough Spanish-speaking population that this isn’t a surprise. But unlike those Mexican joints, the majority of the patrons at Soochow were speaking English. Can you imagine waiting tables in a language in which you had very tenuous grasp? Our waitress was up to it. She’d ask a question if she didn’t understand and smiled and laughed a lot. A friendly attitude can bridge any language barrier.
Still, there were some service problems, the foremost being that the pace was a bit brusque and a little bit brisk. The soup arrived too quickly on the heels of the appetizers, and the entrees arrived while we were still eating the soup.
The food itself is of workmanlike quality, well-crafted but lacking any real surprises. Sara and I both had the special dinner plate for one, $8.25, a choice of entree, the Soup of the Day (egg flower for us), an egg roll, a crab rangoon, a fried wonton, a choice of fried or steamed rice, and for an extra buck, we both added the chicken chow mein.
I had the Chicken Egg Foo Young. Though it wasn’t listed on the menu, the waitress assured me through a carefully calculated series of smiles and nods that it was fine. Sara had the cashew chicken, which had a nice balance of cooked and raw cashews. Both entrees were quite good. The chicken chow mein was also good, though we couldn’t help noticing that our servings were quite different. Mine was loaded with vegetables and meat, while Sara’s was, pathetically, mostly just noodles, (Don’t worry, I shared). It seemed like they had a whole bunch of chow mein already made up and just served us two big spoonfuls without noticing how different the make-up of each actually were.
We also had an extra order of eight crab Rangoon for $4.50. They were delicious but a little weird. The wonton skin was so crunchy and sweet that it almost tasted like a fortune cookie, filled not with meaningless platitudes, but with crab and cream cheese—an improvement in my book.
Soochow’s decor leaves much to be desired. The hanging lanterns are adorned with beer logos, and there was a pile of stuff along the wall across from me: a cooler of iced tea, a stack of phone books and a bunch of boxes. One wall is a very pretty, nice light blue. Sara wasn’t sure if it reminded her of her grandmother’s eyes or her grandmother’s carpet, but it was a happy association regardless.
This place is great for take-out. The food’s good and cheap and the portions are righteously huge—we had enough food left over for lunch and dinner the next day. Plus, with take-out, you avoid the lackluster locale and the potentially awkward service. We had a nice cultural-exchange type of time with our waitress, but it could just as easily been very frustrating.
Altogether, we were served enough food for three meals for about 10 bucks apiece!
How do you say “bargain” in Chinese?