SOUTH PORTLAND – To be able to eat and run is one thing.
But it’s not often you find a place where you can eat a lot in a hurry.
That’s one of the great things about the lunch buffet at the relocated Asia Restaurant in Mill Creek Shopping Center. For years, the restaurant was across the street, behind a drug store.
But earlier this year, it moved. The new space is bigger and brighter, and complete with a lunch buffet to complement the extensive menu.
The restaurant specializes in Cantonese, Szechuan, Hunan and Mandarin cuisine.
It’s located in a shopping center with a CVS, a bookstore and several other stores. So it’s a good place for a quick lunch while doing errands.
I was seated immediately during a recent lunch visit. When I said I wanted the lunch buffet — $7.50 a person — I was told to help myself right away.
There were two buffet tables with a dozen or more choices — plenty of variety, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed.
I bypassed the fried appetizers — crab rangoon was one — and got a cup of egg drop soup. It was smooth and full of velvety egg floating in the broth.
I also tried — small portions, mind you — some Hunan pork, vegetable lo mein, pork fried rice and cashew chicken.
All were good. I especially liked the fried rice, which was lighter than many fried rice dishes I’ve had, with very tender pork.
When I got back to my table, I had a glass of water — which was refilled every time I took a sip — and a pot of tea waiting for me.
Just to do my duty as a reporter, I went back for seconds to sample some rice noodles with vegetables and some pan-fried dumplings. I liked both. The dumplings, with a slightly tangy meat filling, were crunchy and very good.
There was also some fruit and Jell-O for dessert, but I passed.
If you don’t want the buffet, the menu has more than two dozen lunch specials for under $7, ranging from $4.50 for pork chow mein with fried rice to $6.95 for cashew chicken, fried rice and choice of appetizer.
Mandarin specials are also offered at lunch, about a dozen of them, most priced at around $6.75. These include kung pao chicken; chicken, beef or pork with garlic sauce; Szechuan spiced shrimp; and Hunan beef, chicken or pork.
There are appetizer combination plates for lunch such as beef teriyaki, egg roll and fried rice for $5.75; and boneless ribs, egg roll, chicken fingers and fried rice for $6.25.
All the lunch specials are served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Because of its location just over the Casco Bay Bridge near Route 77, the restaurant is on the commuting route for a lot of people. There are lots of choices for take-out dinner, including about 16 dinner combos for $8.25 each.
The features staff of The Portland Press Herald anonymously samples meals for about $7.