Monday, April 9, 2012

China Blue Restaurant

(Second Review -- May 2012)
(OregonMania I with Naader Reda -- May 2012)

China Blue Restaurant, located on NW 9th St. in Corvallis, Oregon, is an Americanized Chinese restaurant and home to the Lucky Seven Challenge.

(Nope, not my car)

The place is somewhat dim inside. An Americanized Chinese food establishment, for the record. Silverware? Fork, butterknife, and a soup spoon. Nope, no chopsticks or tea cups at the outset.

Feeling extra hungry? Would you like to eat an entire chicken coop and cause mother hens all over the galaxy to infinitely torture your soul? Take on the Lucky Seven Challenge.

At the beginning of April 2012, the pot was at $600

What it supposedly looks like
I kept staring at the challenge the entire time. You must eat seven different chicken dishes (orange, lemon, sweet & sour, Hunan, General Tso, Mandarin, and their signature hazelnut chicken), nearly a pound each. The pot starts at $100 and goes up by another $100 each month the challenge stays unbeaten. You must complete it in an hour by yourself, with no bathroom breaks (and obviously, no reversals of fortune).

One of the servers brought out the challenge dishes
(Hazelnut chicken goes the blue bowl and placed in the center of the red dish)

Biggest winner to date won $1,000!
April 2012 hit, and the pot grew to $600. It costs $29.77 to take the challenge. If you win, you get the money in the pot, the meal free, and your picture on the wall by the entrance. The pot then goes back down to $100 when the challenge is defeated. The challenge is only chicken, no sides.

I counted five winners on the wall overall. Some lucky dude won $1,000 last March, while another person a while back took home $900. I could tell the female server wanted me to give the challenge a go. Unfortunately, I'm a spicy food panda and haven't earned my second and third stomachs yet.

Yet, I wanted to at least get a "mini-sample" of what the challenge would be like. So I went on my own chicken bender.

Menu cover
(Hey, a panda on the cover!)

"Mix and Match" is a great option if you want to try many dishes!

Hazelnut chicken is the signature item!
At lunch, you can "mix and match" (2-item minimum) various entrees with a side of rice (steamed, brown, or fried rice). Their way of saying a combo meal, I guess. I went with three items: orange chicken, Hunan chicken, and spicy chicken ($12).

Spicy chicken (front); orange chicken (back right); Hunan chicken (back left)
(China Blue Restaurant)
Brown rice
(Don't worry, the lighting was not the best)
I told the server to make it extra spicy. Heck, the receipt even said "XXXXXHOT." I might need to show these people what quintuple-X hot really means.

But seriously, all three chicken choices were delicious. From the first bite of spicy chicken to the last bite of Hunan, each cluckin' piece was kickass. The Hunan had fresh, crunchy stir-fried veggies, further pleasing my gut.

Spicy chicken
Orange chicken
Hunan chicken
The meal came with a cup of Hot & Sour soup (Egg Flower also an option). Temperature-hot (awesome!), with an excellent balance of spicy and sour.

Hot & Sour Soup
I had little trouble taking out all the chicken and the cup of soup. My server was impressed. Yup, I'm good for something, anyway. I figure I put away about 3.5 lbs total, with soup and some rice included. Guessing my max intake is about 5.5 lbs, which is still far short of what the Lucky Seven Challenge contains. In short, I'll likely let someone else defeat this challenge for now. Panda must build up capacity first!

I got to sample the signature hazelnut chicken: light-breaded and marinated chicken with a white, creamy sweet hazelnut sauce. Holy crap. I would seriously take the Lucky Seven Challenge just so I can have an entire portion and still have six other kickass items to go. Otherwise, the hazelnut chicken $10.99 as a special entree. No worries, vegetarians can get tofu instead of chicken.

Hazelnut chicken sample
Definitely wanted more of this one!
I mentioned a female server above who was very friendly and jovial. I also encountered another server there who wasn't as talkative, with a much more serious demeanor. Guess I saw the yin and yang of this establishment in one visit.

Anyway, this was a great first experience. I just may have to break into crazy panda mode and take this challenge on anyway. Honestly, the money would be awesome, but merely a bonus to me. I just want to eat kickass food. China Blue has that.

I kept dreaming about that food on the drive home. Mmm...cluckin' chicken overload.

They are open every day at 11 a.m., serving lunch until 3:30. Dinner runs until 9 Sun-Thu (and until 10 on Fri and Sat). And yes, I'd rather head here for lunch than Panda Express.

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