He Cheng: A First Take

He Cheng
215 N Stadium Blvd
Columbia, MO 65203
(573) 499-0001

A first glance at the menu of Columbia’s newest Chinese restaurant, He Cheng, isn’t going to wow anybody. Lots of standard, Americanized Chinese dishes to satisfy the masses. But they will offer you an “authentic Chinese” menu if they catch you poring over some of the slightly more adventurous items. This menu is the one you want, with ten or so dishes that’ll stretch your palate a bit.

Off the standard menu the pork dumplings, egg drop soup and Fujian-style wonton soup check off the boxes but little more. Then, Chicken with Chilies shows up and steals the show. Fiery, crispy and gorgeous, it belonged to one particular diner but disappeared under a flurry of four sets of chopsticks. Riotously fun and addictive. The other dishes – twice-cooked pork, chicken lo mean and cumin beef – don’t quite reach the same lofty heights but each show promise (the lo mein for keeping picky kids/adults happy, the cumin beef for resembling Chinese fajitas and the pork for satisfying seekers of an authentically Chinese use of of the less-glamorous cuts of meat). Each had its hits and misses, nothing surprising for a new operation.

So, am I going to drive past Bamboo Terrace to hit He Cheng? Not anytime soon, and not only for its location in the dour environs of the Shoppes at Stadium. And is the frenetic menu-circus that is ABC Chinese in danger of being eclipsed? Nah. But nor is He Cheng just another outfit lazily turning out 80s-era American-Chinese classics. There’s potential and ambition here and my guess is they’ll only get better.
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Posted in Go

Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

4 thoughts

  1. Scott,

    What are your go-to dishes at Bamboo Terrace right now? I’ve been enjoying the lamb off their authentic section but would appreciate your input.

  2. Velvet Beef in Chili Oil, Fish Filets in Chili Oil, Shredded Chicken with Cilantro and of course, you can’t beat the Malaysian Curry Hot Pot. Eggplant with Garlic Sauce Hot Pot is solid too. And Chicken with Jalapeno Peppers. Oh hell, I guess I just haven’t had much I didn’t love there.

  3. The Roast Salmon with red Curry Sauce is great. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, give the Sliced Beef with Beef Lung in Chili Oil a whirl. It is quite lovely.

    Know how to read Chinese or can lasso someone to do it for you? Check out the specials on the board as you walk in. Sometimes they have the English translation and sometimes not. The ones that don’t can be very interesting…and good! One time we ate there, I saw the list of specials and I asked a woman if she could tell me what they were. I pointed to one and she asked if I liked to try new things. Sure, I said. She said it was Stir-Fried Pork Kidney. I ordered it and I will not lie…it’s one of the best dishes I ever had there.

  4. You’re right, Michael, the Sliced Beef with Beef Lung is awesome. They can’t get lung here so they use tripe and yeah, it’s pretty spectacular. I too find opening yourself up to whatever the staff recommends is a solid tactic…haven’t had the pork kidneys yet. Thanks for the tips.

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