Simon's Chinese Cuisine

3975 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta. 678-762-0038

A common snare among many Chinese restaurants specializing in quickie lunches and dinner standards is phoned-in filler served in a standard-issue environment. Not Simon's Chinese Cuisine.

Gusts of freshness, keen presentation, generous portions and affordable prices unite making Simon's a step ahead of its contemporaries.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Tight times call for budget cutting, and dining out often becomes the first spending aspect to receive a trim. Yet Simon's accessible pricing makes it worth the trip. We arrive at lunch to find more-than-abundant helpings at a reasonable cost. Lunch entrees, less than $7.50 a pop, each hit the table with a side of fried rice, a light, crispy spring roll and a choice of soup (egg drop, won ton or hot and sour). The hot and sour, however, is the rising star. Owner Simon Chan says its signature flavor banks on the heavy use of white pepper and a little extra vinegar, which bumps up the sour.

A sensational knoll of seafood and veggies with a jab of spice makes up the kung pao shrimp and scallops. We leap into the eggplant in garlic sauce. This zesty cluster of sauteed eggplant wedges and vegetables has a fantastically warm, slow-building bite.

DINNER DELIGHTS

Most of the sizable platters fall into the $9-$11.50 range. You can skim the menu to find all-time faves like Mongolian beef, moo shu pork and General Tsao's chicken featuring featuring a mix of tradition, and smart and savvy creation. Other dinner options receive a larger jolt of imagination. A fried-potato bed holds the bird's nest seafood, an arrangement of shrimp, scallops, grouper, crab and veggies soaking up a white wine sauce. Track down the Hong Kong-style filet mignon. Cut pineapple encircles a batch of beef hunks and onion slices sploshing in a hearty brown sauce.

Additional surprises come in the form of a selection of Cantonese-style noodles. These pan-fried works come with the addition of chicken, pork, vegetables or shrimp, or in meat or seafood combinations.

Simon's tidy, contemporary decor with customary Chinese accents has the crispness of a thoughtful Thai eatery. So it makes sense to find a small selection of Thai dishes on the agenda. (Curry dishes, pad Thai, Thai soups and more.)

FOR THE HUNGRY

Both the lunch and dinner entrees remain plentiful enough to keep appetizers and desserts at bay. But growling guts may consider the Mandarin short ribs, thin shards of juicy, marbleized, bone-in meat proclaiming a sweet, tangy marinade. Or have a sugary epilogue with a dessert choice like mango ice cream or raspberry Key lime cheesecake.

With a well-crafted cache, Simon's succeeds on many fronts, but most importantly adds a fresh, casually cool perspective on wide-appeal Chinese grub.



Hours: Lunch Mondays-Fridays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays noon-3 p.m.; Dinner Sundays-Thursdays 4:30-10 p.m., Fridays 4:30-11 p.m., Saturdays 3-11 p.m.
Reservations: Yes.
Recommended dishes: Hong Kong-style filet mignon, hot and sour soup, eggplant in garlic sauce, bird's nest seafood.
Entree prices: Lunch, $6.10-$7.35; Dinner, $6.75-$15.50.
Verdict: A fresh look at all-time faves.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.