But no szechwan shrimp: Buffet best choice at Carson Hunan Garden

Always eager to try a new Chinese restaurant, and the Hunan Garden on South Carson Street beckoned last weekend. The Hunan Garden up in South Lake Tahoe is a pleasant buffet, but it's 30 miles away. The new local version seemed worth checking out.

Not to wave chopsticks, the new place is OK. The sushi is close to authentic (whatever that is in this day of the un-Japanese "California" roll). and the hot-and-sour soup is close to being hot enough (it never rises to Hong Kong levels). The walnut shrimp in sugar is tasty, but not very united; the shrimp and walnuts are separate. All the old standbys are there: chow mein, chicken in paper (in aluminum foil, that is), fried rice (do Americans know that fried rice is something Chinese make out of leftovers and never serve to guests?), fried whole shrimp (eat it all). There is plenty of fresh fruit, egg foo yung, cold shrimp in shells.

Hot tea comes with the buffet, and guests can order off the menu. But the buffet is the top choice, even though Chinese food should always be eaten as soon as it is cooked. Prices are mid-range, $5.95 for lunch, $8.95 for dinner buffet. The manager swears the two Hunans are owned by different people.

"Friends, but not same," she said.


Friday from 8-10 p.m., it's "Open Mic!" (Remember when microphone was spelled "mike"?) at Comma Coffee. Jen Scaffidi runs the show, and signups begin at 7:30. On Saturday from 8-10 p.m., Comma's very own Athena and her rock band "Wicker Box" will make their debut in the Courtyard.

It's all original music, and it's rock.


Pam Brekas will be at the Nevada Appeal this evening at 5 along with a generous sampling of her swirling paintings. You can also see her work at the Brewery Arts Center, but come to the Appeal and meet the artist.

Yes, there will be refreshments, thanks to Tahoe Ridge Winery and Grand Central Pizza.

Her paintings, a combo of digital and brushwork, are along the abstract genre. But even if abstract doesn't appeal to you, her paintings will.


Charles Lloyd was a new name to me in the jazz world, but not any longer. His "Jumping the Creek" on ECM is a fine collection of originals, with Lloyd on tenor and alto and the targato (whatever that is), Geri Allen on piano, Robert Hurst on double bass and Eric Harland on drums and percussion.

The quartet rambles around between modest bebop and swinging jazz.

It's a nice leap.



I loved my silver Mustang ragtop. I bought it full-well knowing that it wasn't the car to match my lifestyle.

But I figured I could find a ski rack eventually and manage to squeeze in enough gear for a long camping weekend. Negative to both bits of wishful thinking. While my friends all admired it, they still did the driving when it was ski time.

And youthful memories aside, driving a California freeway with the top down required near-full power for the CD player. Yes, I learned a lot about Nevada drivers with the top down: how pickups always want to race a convertible, how many drivers roar up to a red light and slam on the brakes at the last minute - folly.

So I did what no self-respecting environmentalist would do - I bid farewell to the Silver Bullet Mustang and bought (gasp!) an SUV. It's underpowered, leans on bends, and feels like I'm pillaging the earth.

But now I can camp, carry skis and snowboards, and even hear my old Janis Joplin CDs. Now if it could just corner ....


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