Homer Glen restaurant offers traditional Chinese—with a few twists

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A small, fine dining restaurant in Homer Glen, the Orient Cafe, offers traditional Chinese cuisine-with a few twists and a dash of flare, according to its owners.

Orient Cafe, which allows customers the menu option of custom creating their own dish from a variety of meat, vegetables and sauces, opened in November 2009. Co-owners Susan Chang and her husband opened the restaurant at 14108 S. Bell Road to fill a void for fine Chinese dining in Homer Glen, said Susan Chang.

'I wanted to be closer to home and to provide fine (Chinese) dining for Homer Glen,' said Chang, a Homer Glen resident for more than 20 years.

Chang selects the menu for Orient Cafe, focusing on providing quality, fresh ingredients.

'I think Chinese food is better to have when it is very fresh,' Chang said. 'You know, the stir fry from the wok.'

She strives to give customers more than traditional Chinese cooking. 'I like to update Chinese cuisine,' she said.

For instance, besides giving customers the option of picking their own ingredients, the restaurant has what the Changs call the 'combination war bar'-because of the hissing noise made when meat and fresh stir fry are served over sizzling rice, Chang said.

She also comes up with such menu innovations as Phoenix chicken, described as honey ham wrapped in white meat chicken that's breaded, deep fried and served on top of mixed vegetables.

'He [my husband] likes to have his own business and I like to create things,' Chang said.

Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese cuisine influence most of the menu, but the menu also includes items such as spicy shrimp, popular in Hong Kong, Chang said, explaining that Chinese food can vary by region, and some Thai.

Susan Chang was initially from Hong Kong, but grew up in the U.S. She's the third generation in the family to go into the restaurant, following the footsteps of her mother and grandfather.

The menu is not the only display of creativity for Chang, who is also a professional interior designer and artist. She designed the restaurant's interior, a mix of traditional and modern mix where she also displays her reverse painted glass artwork.

'It is a very soothing place,' Chang said.

The Orient Cafe has 16 tables that seat up to about 70 people and a small bar with seating, Chang said. It is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and also offers carryout. The majority of the entrees are in the $9 to $15 price range, she said.


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