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Best Chinese restaurant in Providence, by a long shot: LEMI'S BBQ

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Best Chinese restaurant in Providence, by a long shot: LEMI'S BBQ

Luke | Aug 9, 2005 12:20 PM

I’ve seen a couple of mentions of Lemi’s BBQ on the board, but I wanted to give it another plug as the best Chinese restaurant in the Providence area, bar none. I’d been living in Providence for four years already and had resigned myself for the standard Rhode Island Chinese fare–greasy, generic, and catered toward the western palate (takeout places even going so far as to give you a loaf of Italian bread with your meal). Then I discovered Lemi’s, this little restaurant over on Pontiac Street, off Route 2, by the Providence-Cranston line. And lo and behold they have authentic Chinese food at very reasonable prices.

Their trademark, of course, is their Hong Kong/Chinatown style barbequed meats. Chicken, duck, roast pork (cha siu) and, my personal favorite, roast pig (with crispy skin)–all served with hoisin sauce (but other sauces, like a scallion/ginger blend, are available upon request). You can order the meat of your choice by the pound (they do half pounds or quarter pounds too) both for takeout and for eating in. You can even order a whole suckling pig, though I imagine you’d have to give them some advance warning for that. If I’m dining with someone else, I’ll usually just order a quarter or half pound of barbeque to go with whatever else I’m having for dinner.

While there is some standard Americanized fare on the menu, I steer towards the more authentic stuff (including all of the specials), and I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve ordered. Some favorites include the clams with black bean sauce, the crab or lobster with ginger and scallions (a bargain at $11.95), and any of the wide selection Chinese vegetables (ton-choy, o-choy, peapod leaves–it’s hard to describe these, but you can take my word that they’re tasty). My girlfriend’s favorite is the minced beef congee, a sort of rice soup with beef and ginger in it–I prefer the version with preserved egg, but it’s all good stuff (I think Lucky Garden’s the only other place in Rhode Island I’ve seen congee offered). The house specialty is peking duck, and since they specialize in barbeque meats anyway, they make an excellent peking duck–nice crispy skin, served with scallions and sliced cucumber and steamed buns instead of the traditional crepes.

The icing on the cake is the wide selection of specialty drinks and desserts that Lemi’s offers. If you like bubble teas or milk teas they have many to choose from. And just last week I had a really tasty red bean grass jelly freeze that they put on the menu for the summer.

Unfortunately, business at Lemi’s seems pretty terrible–my girlfriend and I have been the only ones eating dinner there a number of times, even on a Friday night. It got to the point that the owner decided to close the dining room and only do takeout for a while. They finally just reopened the dining room, but with limited hours (now it’s only open until 8:00 at night–I’d call ahead to make sure they’re open). Part of the problem seems to be the restaurant’s out of the way location, but that’s no excuse. I’m tired of people complaining about the Chinese food in Rhode Island, when there’s such a great spot (and believe me, I’m pretty picky about Chinese food), and I’d HATE to see the place close down because there isn’t enough business. Go check it out!

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