Editorial: Food Review – The House of Three Gorges

Robby Cole, Staffer

It was quiet as I drove into the shopping square which I presumed was because of the dark hour and heavy rain. As I got further past the Target parking lot though, I realized I was in the right place. In comparison to the supposed big-box store, the small asian food center was attracting half of North Austin. Other than the struggle to find a spot to park, I didn’t think the House of Three Gorges located in Research Boulevard appeared to be very well known. When I walked closer, I quickly realized my mistake. People consistently flowed in and out of the front door and formed a line from the front desk. Stepping into the House of Three Gorges places you into a narrow room, barely three tables wide, still bustling with people nonetheless.

Clearly this type of business was not abnormal for owner and host Jim Li because he had everything figured out and under control. Easy online check in and the very friendly host provided me with a table in shocking time, and I was soon surrounded by clean plates and bright smiles. Not one customer seemed to stop smiling, except to put more food in their mouth. It seemed as if everyone there had been going for years, but I soon realized that was due to the surprisingly comfortable atmosphere. 

Upon arriving at the ordering counter I was met with Li’s now familiar smile and instantly felt comfortable. I entrusted three of the five orders in his hands, and I’m glad I did. As suggested, my family ordered the fresh pepper jumping fish filet, Sichuan dry stir fried chicken, Sichuan twice cooked pork, and I ordered a Mapo tofu with ground pork. 

After ordering, I returned to my table. Surrounded by steaming bowls of food and a crowd of excited conversation, it was impossible to sit still. Regardless of the absurdly fast service, it felt like ages waiting in anticipation. As soon as the food arrived, the table turned into a mad dash, everyone trying to take from each other’s orders getting a taste of all the magnificent plates in front of us.

Personally, Chinese food usually disappoints me, not because of the flavor but because of the large chunks of vegetables that slow me down and prevent me from eating it fast enough. Somehow, at House of Three Gorges I didn’t run into this issue and ended up finishing two meals alone, plus some dumplings and egg rolls. The western Chinese Sichuan style of cooking utilizes the piquant Sichuan pepper to create intense and vibrant flavors, and chefs Tracy Li and Larry Bai do so masterfully. I think most audiences would appreciate the spice level, but individually I would actually ask for more spice next time. This didn’t subtract from the experience or flavor and the only remotely unenjoyable part was choosing which meal to take a bite of next. 

Walking out was physically difficult compared to on the way in, partially because I didn’t want to leave, but also because I probably gained a few pounds while inside. House of Three Gorges is unsuspecting at first, but the busy, gleaming spirit shows just how good the food is. As much as I wish I could gatekeep this restaurant, I highly recommend visiting House of Three Gorges as you will surely leave with a smile and a full stomach.