Dining review: Add Mei's Kitchen to the list of eateries leading Anchorage's flourishing Asian food scene

Mar. 28—I know that as parents we are supposed to want more for our children than we have ourselves, but I draw the line at Chinese food. My youngest daughter, who is attending college just a stone's throw from New York City's Chinatown, has been expressing a lifetime of gratitude and respect for her mother through a series of photos of herself eating dumplings, salt and pepper tofu, and sesame noodles. They can only be described as taunting. But as much as I respect her game, these blows aren't landing as hard as they would have, say, a decade ago. Because Anchorage's Asian food scene is flourishing.

Add Mei's Kitchen in Midtown to the list. I've been hearing good things about this hole-in-the-wall but hadn't found the opportunity to try it. Last week, low on time and with company coming, we decided to let Mei's Kitchen come to the rescue and do the catering. Bonus points were given early for the convenient online ordering system that works perfectly. My husband picked up our dinner, piping hot and as scheduled, from the friendly owner and we were already off to a good start.

Mei's Kitchen offers a mix of traditional Chinese American takeout classics as well as authentic Sichuan specialties. For our feast, we opted for a little of both: egg rolls, sweet and spicy chicken wings, spicy noodle salad, shrimp fried rice, hot and spicy chicken, Mongolian beef and chicken chow mein.

There were two disappointments, and I'll get those out of the way. The Mongolian beef ($15.75), to me, lacked flavor. I was looking for more ... well, everything: spice, salt, sweetness and sauce. I was also underwhelmed by the shrimp fried rice ($14.75), which was pale and bland. It was missing char from the wok and the grains of rice felt overcooked, giving it a too-soft texture. In a great fried rice dish, the grains should feel distinct with a bit of bite to them. That said, the shrimp was tasty and the ingredients seemed fresh. It was eaten up but served more as a pumped-up side dish than as a main course.

For those diners who simply won't start a Chinese American meal without an egg roll (me!), theirs were crispy and well-rolled with a filling that tasted nice but was a bit bland ($7.75). We doctored these up with dipping sauces and were satisfied, though they hit the bar without raising it.

Everything else was a hit. We loved the sweet and spicy chicken wings ($9.75) and had a moment of silence for the diners that night who missed out (we got the last order). These are plump, charred and chewy, with a nice glossy glaze leaving you with happily sticky fingers. These meaty wings, paired with a noodle dish, would make a delicious and ample entrée.

The spicy noodle salad ($13.75) was a delight. Thin, slippery noodles are tossed with a tingly, tongue-numbingly spicy dressing. It packs a ton of flavor without being blazingly hot. A generous amount of fresh herbs cool this dish down and bring a fragrance and nuance to this light and luscious dish. It's going straight onto my summer go-to list and will be on a lot of Severin family picnic tables this season.

The hot and spicy chicken ($15.75) was another one of our favorite dishes. Thinly sliced, tender chicken is cooked in a complex spice blend (including, I think, the homey and warming flavors of Chinese five spice), along with peppers and sliced onion. This dish delivered heaps of flavor.

The chicken chow mein ($14.75) is a bowl of pure comfort. The noodles are perfectly cooked, and full of lightly sauteed slices of sweet onion that still have a bit of bite in them, and a generous portion of flavorful chicken. The sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and savory. This is a perfectly executed version of the classic and a dish I could eat every day.

All of the dishes, including those we were less excited about, were generously portioned, tasted freshly made, and were pleasingly light. No dishes were swimming in sauce or weighed down by a too-heavy hand with cooking oil. After sampling every dish, I felt satisfied but not in danger of going into a food coma — always a danger when it comes to me and Chinese food.

Mei's Kitchen is a friendly, family-run eatery turning out well-prepared American Chinese classics. I love welcoming new additions to Anchorage's growing Asian food scene. We may not have a Chinatown but I'm delighted that we have become a town with good Chinese. And that makes my daughter's New York City foodie selfies a little bit easier to bear.

If you go:

Mei's Kitchen

3609 Arctic Blvd.

(907) 771-8168


Monday — Friday: 12 p.m. — 8 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday: 2 p.m. — 8 p.m.