We have a Chinese Restaurant!

When we first moved out her almost 10 years ago, the first thing you do in any new town is find the best pizza and best Chinese restaurants.  We found a Chinese place almost immediately – the shrimp toast was by far the best we’d ever had, each dish that came to the table was so fresh and flavorful.

But after that first visit, each and every subsequent visit got worse and worse, until the last time we went, Tony ordered a beef and broccoli dish and the the beef was actually raw – so gross!  Needless to say, they are no longer in business.

Last week Tony was waiting for an appointment and overheard some ladies talking about going out to dinner.  In Tony’s usual sense of humor, he butted in and wanted to know where they were going and what time should he be there.  They mentioned a Chinese place that Tony and I have probably passed by 100’s of times and never gave it a second glance.

Here is our new Chinese restaurant!  Gourmet House in Algonquin.  First sign of a good restaurant?  It is busy.   Second sign of a good restaurant?  It was clean. Third sign of a good restaurant?  Attentive service. Fourth sign of a good restaurant?  The manager asking how everything was.

They have a lunch menu that includes choice of soup (sweet and sour or egg drop), egg roll, rice and entree – and almost all of the lunches cost:

yep, $5.50!

Neither Tony or I are huge fans of egg drop or sweet and sour.  We ordered the sizzling rice soup for 2 – $4.95.  It was enough soup for each of us to have a bowl and one serving was brought home.

I love that Tony automatically asks any server no matter where we go, if there is hot sauce 😀  This one did not disappoint.  A little went a long way.

So the server brought the soup – put the rice (which we later found out was deep fried) and then added the broth and the rice did sizzle.  I’d never had that soup before but I loved the texture of the rice, the broth was not too salty, and the shrimp was so tender.

I do tend to play it safe the first visit to any restaurant – but there are several dishes I can’t wait to try – one that Tony pointed out was a Chef’s Specialty – Combination Hot Pot:

Shrimp, chicken, beef, scallops, bbq pork and tofu with vegetables – all for only $12.98!

I stuck with my stand by of Kung Pao Chicken.  I love that it came with brown rice (I didn’t ask for brown rice) and the chicken was so tender.  And I ate the whole egg roll – it had a nice crunch, and wasn’t greasy at all.

Can’t wait to go back – and Mom, next time you come out here, we’ll have to go!

I had a great grocery shop – we only spent $49 and I got chicken wings, a 4 pound pot roast, ground turkey and bone-in pork chops.

You know I couldn’t have the weekend go by without being Bizzy in the Kitchen!  I made a cauliflower and cheddar cheese soup.  It is really good – tastes like I used heavy cream but I didn’t, and the added lemon zest brings this soup all together.

Cauliflower Cheddar Cheese Soup (printer friendly version)

Course: main meals

PointsPlus™ Value:    4

Servings:  6 (1 cup each)  (7 Plus Points for 1.5 cups)

Preparation Time:  10 min

Cooking Time:  20 min

Level of Difficulty:  Easy


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 cups chopped cauliflower (about 1 large head)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk, divided
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • oops – forgot to add 4 ounces cheese of your choice 
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in large stock pot.  Add garlic, and cook for a couple minutes.
  2. Add cauliflower, 2 cups milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is soft, about 15 minutes.
  4. Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of milk with the flour in a small bowl.  Add to soup and cook for a few more minutes.
  5. Using a stick blender, puree the soup.  Remove from heat, add cheese and lemon zest and let sit 10 minutes until the cheese melts.

I used an extra sharp white cheddar I bought at Whole Foods - it has bits of cranberry in it, but I could't taste it in the soup

I love cauliflower - yet I didn't even try it until a few years ago

next time I'll have this with a hunk of artisan bread 😀

We had made plan to go out to dinner with our neighbors prior to everything else going on in our lives, but we both felt up to it.  I mean, how can you pass up a Jewish deli??

I like to think that besides Allison, I am the #1 aficionado when it comes to Reuben sandwiches.  The bread can’t be too soggy, the corned beef has to be nice and tender.  This one fit the bill – grilled marble rye on the bottom, delicious kraut, melty cheese – my guess is that this open face sandwich is about 14 points – so worth it!  I ate half a potato pancake, so dinner comes in at 19  points.

this picture doesn't do this sandwich any justice! heaven on a plate 😀

And this place had a full deli and bakery.  It was all I could no not to leave with this!

Stats for Sunday:

  • 32 points
  • 30 minute Biggest Loser on Demand (Tara from BL was actually the leader!)
  • Average blood sugar??  I didn’t test once yesterday – oops!

Check out Dana’s BSI Couscous round up here – lots of cool recipes!  And then check out Debbi Does Dinner Healthy for this weeks BSI.  Um, pretty sure this ingredient screams me – Buffalo Sauce/Hot Sauce! 😀

This week’s weather is going to suck.  Here in Chicagoland we are expecting up to 20 inches of snow by Wednesday – um, not the way I wanted to start February!

Question of the Day:  Is a good pizza place or Chinese restaurant more important to you?


44 thoughts on “We have a Chinese Restaurant!

  1. That Chinese place looks awesome! Usually a pizza place is more important to me because we tend to eat it more often, and we were lucky enough to find an AMAZING place on our second try here in Dover, first try..yuck! We still haven’t found a good Chinese place though, which makes me miss our favorite place in Louisiana, the lunch special there was awesome, huge portion of the entrée plus egg roll or soup and pop for $4.25.

  2. Hubby loves going to the pizza place he used to go to when he was growing up. (We only live minutes from my in-laws…). I don’t really care that much for pizza. I like “unusual” pizzas and it has to be super, super thin crust…

    I love a good Chinese restaurant but sadly the one we used to go to just isn’t good anymore….

    Your soup sounds great!

    Thinking of you guys!

  3. haha YES AND YES! Luckily i live in the North end in Boston…aka best pizza outside of Italy ;D It’s hard not to get it every night! Chinese is harder to find, but we have a good one down the street that has the exact same delish combo- brown rice and amazingggg egg rolls, haha i like to think the rice cancels out the greasy egg roll! Sushi is muchhhh harder to find, and don’t even get me started on mexican food here :/

  4. I”m not as picky about my pizza but I am picky about my chinese. It vary’s SO much! I hate when I go to a chinese restaurant and all the sauces taste the same or they are bland and the veggies are mushy. So I’m all about a good chinese place!

  5. Sadly, no one in my family like Chinese, so we never do Chinese takeout, so you know my vote is for PIZZA!!!

  6. All I could think about this morning while watching the weather was y’all – when is it going to stop? You guys just keep getting slammed and it keeps missing us. I am so sorry.

    The Chinese restaurant looks awesome. I love what you ordered. I think I would go the same.

    And I am sorry – I grew up with a New Yawker for a Mother [Brooklyn] and I know my Ruebens [so I want into the club]. I never had one opened faced before – I will have to make them like that next time – it will save me a little sodium. OH, how I miss Ruebens.

    Hope Tony is feeling good today. Please give him our best and let him know we are thinking of you all.

  7. How much cheese did you use for the soupt? I didn’t see it listed or I totally missed it. I want to recreate it but with broccoli.

  8. You can have mediocre pizza, but a bad Chinese restaurant is scary, so I vote for Chinese! We have a good one locally – clean, attentive staff, good score from the health dept., and hey, the food tastes good! 🙂 Never heard of sizzling rice soup and except for the shrimp, I’d like to try it.

    Looks like yesterday was a day to not think about things, including blood sugar. I think once in a while you need that. 🙂

  9. The Reuben looks delicious! A go-to Chinese and pizza place are a must!

  10. I can’t tell you how much I’ve been craving Chinese food. This post was right up my alley! Even though I’m Italian, it’s more important for me to find a good Chinese spot. I could eat the stuff every day!

  11. I puffy heart Chinese food! I always judge a Chinese place by their dumplings! Some are really gross!!

    Now, I want Kung Pao Chicken! I think I have a homemade version still in the freezer. Off to dig…

    Hope you had a nice weekend, Biz 🙂

  12. Yucky snow! One of my friends lives in Chicago and isn’t happy about it either.

  13. First I hope that weather doesn’t mess with any schedule stuff with Tony. That’s something that mother nature doesn’t need to pile on with.

    I don’t know how you do the pictures and everything with your posts. I went mental today trying to do my best Biz impression. I think I’ll stick to the wee posts I normally post. You certainly have a talent, and I love what you do.

  14. DiningAndDishing

    I am more of a pizza than a Chinese fan but it’s nice to have some variety! Glad you guys found a nice, new place. Chinese is always a nice treat and it helps that it’s usually quite cheap!

    – Beth @ http://www.DiningAndDishing.com

  15. i am chinese, so of course a good chinese restaurant is more important! unfortunately there aren’t any good ones closeby but if we venture out 30 minutes there is AMAZING stuff

  16. We’re lucky enough to have both a fabulous Chinese restaurant and pizza place around. However, we rarely make use of them since we can only order food for an army when we’re there (and eat enough for an army too!)

    Sizzling rice is so fun to order. I’ve seen it with soup or stir-fry poured on top to get the sizzle.

    We all laugh when snow is in our forecast because it usually means that it’s going to be cold and sunny. 🙂

  17. You’d probably be in heaven where I live Biz, I swear there’s a Chinese restaurant on every corner! If you ask what’s the best you’d get 20 different answers from 20 different people.

    That reuben looks DIVINE. Oh my I do love a good reuben.

    Hmmm, sounds like we both were a bit off our normal schedules yesterday… you with your no testing and me with no cooking. Shocking, I know! But I have to say sometimes a little respite is good for the soul.

  18. I’m a pizza girl all the way! But it’s always nice to have options……. 🙂

  19. I have to find a good Chinese and Pizza place wherever I live, but am so picky about Chinese that it’s very difficult. I am so weird that I have to go there for a good year before I’ll even try anything with chicken in it LOL

    This soup sounds so delicious, and I have everything to make it in my apartment except for the cauliflower. I think I’ve found my lunches for this week once I pick up a head!

  20. oh i love sizzling rice soup! i’m so glad everyone is becoming health conscious! brown rice woohoo!

  21. Wow – it all looks great. Nothing better than a good new restaurant find. I love the way you tally your points, use a few of the weekly, and enjoy ENJOY it all. I’m so conscious of every bite/point, and I’ve made choices I’d rather have not had in the interest of lower points. I get into that thinking of wanting to stay at the daily number ONLY, which is sort of self defeating. So now I not only want you and your family to come cook and barbecue for us, I also want your brain!

  22. We have an awesome chinese restaurant (always voted best in the Jewish newspaper) but of course it is always a long wait cause it is so busy. We never go out for pizza, I haven’t found a pizza to match up to my fav in SA and the family are not pizza lovers.

    I love Rueben sarmi’s and often make my own healthier version at home – yum!!

  23. Glad you found both a good Chinese restaurant AND got to go to a yummy Jewish deli with friends! (That Reuben looks heavenly! I prefer pastrami and provolone, myself, but a sandwich like that might convert me, as long as I could get it without the Thousand Island dressing.) Sounds like a nice weekend!

    Pizza or Chinese food? I’d hate to have to pick, which is one reason I love living where I do. It’s like the Epcot Center of food! 😉 But I would pick good Chinese food. We can make a pretty darn good pizza, and even so-so pizza is still pretty tasty. My kids could care less about Chinese food, and their idea of “good pizza” is Costco or Round Table. (At the “good pizza” places, they prefer crust + cheese, no sauce.)

  24. Answer of the Day: you need a restaurant that makes a great Chinese pizza.

  25. Good pizza! I can’t recreate any pizza dishes for REAL, but like to think some of my Chinese ones get pretty close! So glad you found a new chinese place though and SO NASTY about the raw beef. ug.

    OMG – that BSI is PERFECT for you! Tell me you’re submitting your chili!!

    I thought there were so many great couscous recipes in that round up!

  26. erintakescontrol

    Chinese is a must! There is ONE place in our town that I will eat at. The other places do not compare. That Reuben looks freakin’ fantastic! I’m hungry now!

  27. pizza vs chinese?! oh my…i don’t know if i could possibly choose, but if i had to, i’d say pizza. i just couldn’t live without good pizza every few weeks or so.

    what fun dining experiences, they both had me just drooling!

  28. I love great Chinese restaurants!! And…I don’t even like reubens, but that one looks delish!

    We are preparing for this snowstorm, too! I don’t think we are going to get as much as you though!

  29. How funny that you would post about a cauliflower soup with cheese you got from Whole Foods – I’m a chef at a Whole Foods and just last week I made a cheesy cauliflower soup to put out on the soup bar! It was very similar to yours, only I didn’t use lemon zest (I will have to try that!) and used potato instead of flour to thicken it up.

    I would say a good Chinese restaurant. There are many more healthy options at a Chinese restaurant than at a pizza place. In my experience, it’s easier to find non-scary, good-tasting frozen pizza at the grocery store than it is to find quality Chinese. In my city there are quite a few places with “traditional” (more authentic) Chinese menus, too, and that’s always fun to try something new! (avoid the jellyfish salad… haha!!)

  30. I like Chinese food… but I LOVE pizza!

  31. So glad you have a good Chinese place to go to again! I think pizza is more important, because we just don’t do a lot of Asian unless it’s a buffet so obviously we could care less whether its “good” Chinese. hahaha! We just want a lot of it.

  32. Both are important if you ask me. At Ft Drum everything was Italian. I love Italian but this lady needs some Chinese and Mexican in her life. They had 2 Chinese places that both sucked ass and 1 Mexican place that wasn’t any better. Twas so sad. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t have to go back and live there! All part of my grand scheme!

  33. I’m a weirdo and don’t really like Chinese takeout at all so definitely a good pizza place!!! We were just talking about cauliflower being so underrated last night, it really is so good and can be used in so many recipes. The soup sounds very good!

  34. Both! I know , I know, you asked us to choose one over another and I just can’t!

  35. There’s a Chinese place around here that has always been the cheapest, the greasiest, and the dirtiest, but the good is actually decent. It actually caught fire in 2009 and just reopened so I haven’t experienced it since, but the dance club on the 2nd floor has some giant scorpion bowls that I had Saturday night :/ blahhhh 🙂

  36. Weighting For 50

    Hi Biz….oooh…depends on the mood. Chinese or Pizza?? We actually treated ourselves to pizza tonight, so guess that wins out today. Have a great week.

  37. For those special occasions, we like to go to Chinese Seafood restaurants. Normally, we never do Chinese take out. We cook it at home. Less grease and oil.

  38. YUM! I love Chinese…good Chinese, that is! But I think pizza is something we get more of. And a happy husband makes for a happy marriage, and HE is THE pizza man.

    I’ve been reading your blog for how long now and I didn’t realize what burb you live in — are you in Algonquin or a nearby burb? This soup looks fabulous! I will definitely be trying this, especially with a low points value like that! Weee 😉

  39. Luckily we have both good pizza and good chinese in our neighborhood. Our favorite pizza place recently closed because the owner passed away. We’re keeping our fingers crossed his family will reopen and continue to run the business. I miss the special Sicilian zazza. MMMMmmmm…damn, now I want pizza.

  40. Biz – I made this cauliflower soup last night and brought it for my lunch today. So delicious!

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