Lim's Specialty House 

Let me start by saying that all restaurants are not created equal. High-end restaurants serve high-end food, and low-end restaurants sort of hover between good-bad and bad-bad. Harsh, I know, but certain places are consistent in look, taste and price, and you can't really judge them for delivering exactly what they advertise.

Lim's is one of these places. It's attached to Ves' Broadway Bar (infamous for having the cheapest, stiffest drinks in Boise), and from the moment you approach the windowless blue door with bits of primer peeking out, you pretty much know what to expect. The interior is tidy but weathered, and bulbous mauve lanterns lead the way to a tank full of bulbous gold fish (whoever decided visible brain matter was a highly breed-able quality should have considered its potential proximity to dinner). The lone waitress yelled to the kitchen that we had come for our to-go order of Broccoli Beef, "Special" Fried Rice, Mandarin Chicken and two egg rolls, and having heard Lim's served up some mean crinkle-cut fries, we threw in a small order of those, too. She topped it off with three and a half (seriously) fortune cookies and some soy sauce packets for $26.99.

The boy and I raced home with our brown paper sack, the smell of old grease permeating the air. We spread everything out on the counter, and the first warning signs were two enormous objects wrapped in tinfoil. They looked like large burritos, and by process of elimination, we realized they had to be the egg rolls. They each took up almost half of a dinner plate, but we managed to squeeze an assortment of the other dishes into the mix. The Mandarin Chicken looked harmless enough, but the meat and breading were at a 1:1 ratio, and the neon orange glaze did little to disguise the lardy flavor of the coating and the almost flavorless chicken. The Broccoli Beef was a bit better, a benign mosaic of sliced carrots, water chestnuts, canned mushrooms, limp beef and broccoli florets that had been boiled to an almost drinkable consistency, all swimming in a bland soup of spices and thickening agent. The fried rice wasn't too bad, its medley of browned grains, tiny shrimp, scallions, peas, bean sprouts and slivered pork making for a nice visual. With a little soy sauce, this dish somewhat redeemed the others.

But then, unwittingly, I tried the burrito roll. The breading was a centimeter thick and doughy like dumpling batter, and the filling tasted like microwave stir-fry (with actual balls of pork). It was one of those things I wouldn't eat again unless I was dared. The boy and I discussed the experience as we washed it all down, and he asked the pointed question: "Do you think this food has ever been eaten with chopsticks?"

His point was that Lim's Chinese food was more like watered down American fare--at least the night we went. And it makes sense considering the fact that much of Lim's business comes from the adjoining bar crowd (most of whom aren't concerned with flavor after a few cocktails). The prices were reasonable, the service very good and the food overall what I expected--not good, but good enough.

--Erin Ryan double-fists fortune cookies

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