Juices ran down my chin after I bit into the beef pot sticker at the new Lan House in downtown Lincoln.
Later, when I returned to interview owner Max Z, he told me the mark of a good pot sticker is an explosion of juices after biting into one.
“When juices come out … that’s the beauty of a pot sticker,” Z said.
Not surprisingly, the two kinds of pot stickers on Lan House’s menu have been among customer favorites since the new Chinese restaurant opened on March 1 at 1226 P St. -- the former site of Dickey’s BBQ.
They, like most of the menu, are handmade from fresh ingredients. These are not the kind pulled from a freezer and reheated. They are meticulously prepared from scratch.
Lan House also hand pulls its own noodles for its soups and lo mein. The taste of a fresh noodle opposed to a frozen one is different. The taste reminded me of noodles my mother made by hand for her chicken-and-noodle dish.
The menu is authentic Chinese, not Chinese-American. You’ll find squid salad and pot stickers among the appetizers instead of, say, crab Rangoon. There is no sweet-and-sour anything, and the cold dishes include such fare as a spicy sliced pig ear ($7.95) and chicken feet with pickled peppers ($7.95).
Because of that, Lan House already has become a favorite of mine.
Z, a former University of Nebraska-Lincoln employee, opened Lan House to bring a taste of home to Lincoln. He’s originally from Lanzhou. He’s been in the country for seven years, the last four-plus in Lincoln.
He targeted downtown because its location to the university, where there are number of Asian students. They already have found the Lan House. When my wife and I dined there on a recent Saturday were the only non-Asian students there.
That should tell you something.
Z said the menu is only “20 percent” of what Lan House intends to offer. He wanted to get his kitchen staff trained before adding more entrees. He hopes to have the full menu in place by the end of this month.
The current menu is a mix of appetizers, noodle soups, cold dishes, fried rice and lo mein, with entree prices ranging from $7.95 to $10.95.
My wife and I enjoyed the beef pot stickers (8 for $7.95); the combo lo mein ($9.95), featuring chicken, beef, shrimp, bean sprouts, carrots and green onions with the homemade noodles; and spicy chicken ($7.95), a cold dish with steamed chicken, Lan House’s special chili sauce, cilantro and crushed peanuts.
Spicy it is. The special sauce “burned” my lips, the way an extremely hot wing sauce does. But, boy, it was good. My wife, nor I, could not stop eating it despite the heat. Grade: A
Some signage at the entrance will help new customers. When my wife and I arrived, we weren’t sure to wait to be seated or to seat ourselves. The staff tries to greet newcomers quickly, but, sometimes, they are already engaged.
Servers are friendly and knowledgeable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Since dishes are handmade, it can take a little time for food to come out of the kitchen. We received our cold dish quickly after ordering. But we nearly had it finished before our hot food -- pot stickers and lo mein -- arrived. I had wanted to try and enjoy the foods the together. Grade: B+
Z said the dining room also is work-in-progress. The wagon wheel light fixtures, for instance, is a holdover from the BBQ restaurant and seem out of place in Chinese eatery. Z has some temporary wall decor while Z awaits the arrival of hangings and such from China.
The most interesting feature about Lan House is the community table in the middle of the dining room. It seats around 20, allowing for large groups or singles to meet and enjoy conversation with strangers if so desired. Grade: C+
Plenty of options exist for vegetarians. Many of the appetizers come in two sizes, with the larger size working as an entree. These include the sliced potato salad ($3.95 or $5.95) and black mushroom salad ($3.95 or $6.95). Among the entrees are tofu fried rice ($9.95) and tofu lo mein ($9.95). I expect vegetarian selections to increase when Z grows his menu to full size. The menu makes no reference to gluten-free eating. Grade: B+
Reach the writer at 402-473-7213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @LJSjeffkorbelik.