Like we’ve said before, Alli and myself have really been taking advantage of the nearby quality Chinese restaurants since moving to Cheektowaga. We have our favorites but in the name of Buffalo Eats, we are always looking for somewhere new to eat. Luckily Alli stumbled across a dine365 posting for 80 China Cafe and told me to grab a menu on my way home from work. With a generic/odd name like 80 China Cafe and close proximity to UB, this place had the potential to be the next great homestyle Chinese restaurant find. After grabbing their menu, we were even more excited. The menu is filled with mostly traditional/homestyle items but still has approachable options for the less adventurous eater. You’ll find everything from Fried Rice with Bacon and General Tso Chicken to exotic menu items like Sauteed Pork Kidney with Garlic Sauce and Crispy and Spicy Pork Intestine.
The restaurant is located in the fancy new student housing complex on Sweet Home, across from UB’s entrance. Since UB’s Fall semester hasn’t started yet, the restaurant was completely empty on our visit.
In comparison to the other Chinese restaurants, the dining room at 80 China Cafe is the smallest we’ve been to (~20 seats) and also the nicest. The design is very sleek but with some quirks. Polaroids of their regular customers hang along the back wall and Hello Kitty figurines (Alli’s favorite design choice) are everywhere. They were playing a very relaxing soundtrack of singer-songwriters that matched the dim lighting and contemporary design.
We started our meal with Meat Dumplings in Spicy Sauce ($4.95). The dish involved several homemade dumplings that were filled with ground pork and coated in a sweetened chili oil. We’ve had similar dishes in the past that have been unbearable but this sauce had just enough sugar to cool down the heat while providing an awesome flavor contrast. The dish isn’t very large and is perfect for sharing a small bite before a bigger meal, but I could have easily eaten another order.
Up next was our favorite dish at the moment, Double Cooked Pork ($11.95). We absolutely love Miss Hot Cafe’s thin and crispy pork and recently tried a thicker cut pork belly version at Peking Quick One. 80 China Cafe falls somewhere in between. The pork belly is cut thin but still contain a few juicy fatty bits. The plate was 95% pork with some thin slices of green onion and was coated in a spicy chili sauce. It wasn’t as hot as the version at Miss Hot Cafe and may have needed a little extra kick of heat but overall, it was quite good.
The Sauteed Cabbage with Hot Pepper ($8.95) was good, but not great. The cabbage had a nice bite and a good but not overwhelming amount as heat. In comparison to Miss Hot Cafe (our go-to if you haven’t noticed), it was not as good as their version which comes served with (and technically under) the Double Cooked Pork.
For our final dish we had to order something unique and ideally involving offal, so we tried the Spicy and Crispy Pork Intestine ($12.95). The pieces of intestine were deep fried and like the menu description alluded to, very crispy. Due to the heavy use of Sichuan peppers and deep fried exterior, the actual meat didn’t have a strong flavor. That said, the texture was fantastic. Crunchy on the outside with a fatty and melt-in-your mouth soft interior. I found myself breaking into a slight sweat as I ate the dish, so be warned. It may not sound like it, but anyone who enjoys spicy foods could really enjoy this dish.
We walked away from our Wednesday dinner feeling satisfied and excited to add another Chinese restaurant to our rotation. Their prices are mostly on par with Miss Hot Cafe/Peking Quick One. There is good value in the smaller dishes and sides but their entrees can get pricey ($13-19). Their menu offers more exciting dishes that I’d love to come back and try (pork feet, preserved cabbage pork, pork blood and beef cabbage stew), most likely while UB is still out of session and I can actually grab a seat. But just judging by the small sample we tried, we liked what we saw.