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House of Chu Chinese Cuisine and Cocktail Lounge
5365 Camden Ave., San Jose
Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; dinner Sun-Thu 4:30-9:30pm, Fri-Sat 4:30-10pm

'DO YOU PLAY bass for the Grateful Dead?" a grizzled barfly in a baseball cap asks me in the seedy cocktail lounge at House of Chu while I wait for a takeout order of its famous Chinese Chicken Salad. I order a $5 whopping portion of Maker's Mark bourbon and tell him no. Other local scribes have waxed poetic about House of Chu's Chinese Chicken Salad ($10.50 or $5.75 for a half-portion), so I'll just mention that it's a tossed salad with shredded chicken, green onions, lettuce, several spices and rice vermicelli. It's got a surprising zing to it.

But no one ever talks about the pleasantly seedy cocktail lounge adjoining this restaurant. It's only open until 10pm, but it's a great place to wolf down a few Tsingtaos while you're waiting for a takeout order. I only chose bourbon to see how strong the drinks are. And they are. One lady even returned her Kahlua and coffee because it was too strong. Blasphemy, I cry.

A dish at House of Chu I'd recommend if you're dining in is the Tippan Saday Beef, served on a searing steel platter, a wonderful tenderloin and scallions concoction tipping the scales at $7.50. Or try the $7 Triple Mushroom plate with button, black and straw mushrooms.

Back in the bar, my takeout order arrives, and after another bourbon, I ask for a receipt. The bartender gives me a blank one and says, "Write whatever amount you want."

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From the March 20-26, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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