Tien Hong

6749 NE Sandy Blvd, 281-1247

Tien Hong is sort of like smack. Once you put the first slithery, salt-and-pepper squid in your mouth, you'll be hooked. In fact, my friends and I don't even refer to Tien by its name, but merely as "salt-and-pepper squid." This appetizer is made up of big pieces of calamari, thinly battered, deep-fried, salted and peppered equally, and cooked with green onions left slightly raw. Even if you claim not to like squid, you should try this squid. I have seen many a non-seafood eater come over to the squid side, and then jones weekly for another serving.

Though S&PS is clearly the mantelpiece of the menu, the side dishes and entrees are very good. The leafy Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce is mildly salty and crunchy, but not undercooked. The pork spareribs are to die for, as the meat is slow-cooked, very tender, and served on the bone. The inch-long mini-ribs are lightly breaded and tossed around in a sweet and sour sauce. My last meal there was the asparagus and shrimp in black bean sauce, and while I was into the expertly cooked greens and pink seafood, the blackbean sauce wasn't quite pungent and bitter enough.

The Pho at Tien is another fail-safe item. You get a friggin' gigantic bowl for $4.50, the broth is lean and slightly sweet, and the meat isn't over-boiled. (Note: if you'd like to take your extra Pho to go, order the rice noodles on the side. If you get them in the bowl, they'll suck up all your broth by morning.)

The one major flaw of Tien Hong--be warned--is the service. A friend of mine was horribly screamed at once for innocently asking about the ingredients of a certain dish--and has been sheepish about going back ever since. Actually, that's why she often goes to Yen Ha across the street. She even claims Yen Ha's squid is better, but c'mon, it's really because of that violent and unnecessary tongue-lashing, now wasn't it?