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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: December 10, 2018

Get a lot for a little at Chia Sen in Scarborough

Written by: Ray Routhier

Chia Sen Chinese Cuisine on Payne Road in Scarborough, located in a shopping plaza that includes a Bull Moose music store.
Photos by Ray Routhier

It was a cold and rainy November afternoon, and I was in search of some warm comfort food.

Chinese would be good, I thought. Some fried rice, some egg drop soup. The Chinese food of my youth.

I found my desired comfort lunch at Chia Sen Chinese Cuisine in Scarborough, with its extensive menu of Chinese restaurant staples. What I didn’t expect was the financial comfort I’d get – how easy on the wallet it would be.

Being lunch time, I went right to the lunch specials section of the menu and was happy to see how many there were, more than four dozen. Each one was some sort of main dish with a choice of soup and rice. I chose ginger pork with string beans, with plain (no meat) fried rice and egg drop soup, for $7.95.

And because I was eating in, I got a giant bowl of fried wontons to nibble on as well.

 

Egg drop soup, fried rice and ginger pork with string beans from Chia Sen Chinese Cuisine .

Once I ordered, I scanned the menu and noticed that most of the chicken and pork lunch specials were around the same price, with some beef and shrimp dishes about $1 more. A couple dishes were a little more than $11, but a ton were in the $7.50 to $8.50 range.

For $1.75 extra, I also ordered a vegetarian spring roll, figuring it might be good for a snack later.

The egg drop soup had a rich, golden broth with wispy eggs floating in it. There were also big chunks of tender mushrooms, and a slightly smoky flavor. Perfect on a cold rainy day.

The ginger pork dish had tender strips of pork tossed with green beans and scallions in a light, gingery sauce. The beans had a nice snap to them.

The fried rice had carrots, peas and eggs and was lightly flavored. It went well with the ginger pork.

After eating all the soup, and a lot of wontons, I saved half the pork and half the rice, plus the spring roll, and had a second lunch the next day.

I had gotten takeout from Chia Sen before and was impressed with the online ordering system. I’ve ordered online, driven about five minutes to get there, and had my lunch waiting for me.

But on my most recent trip, I was happy to sit in the surprisingly cozy dining room, which has a little bar area as well. The restaurant is in a shopping plaza that also has a Bull Moose music store.

Besides lunch specials, the place has an extensive menu of appetizers, soups, specialties and classics like General Tso’s chicken, orange chicken, Kung Pao scallops or sesame beef.

But I know I’ll definitely return for the inexpensive lunch specials. I feel pretty comfortable in saying that.

CHIA SEN CHINESE CUISINE

WHERE: 456 Payne Road, Scarborough; (207) 883-7665 or chiasenme.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: About five to 10 minutes, dining in on a weekday; there is also an easy online ordering system for takeout.
PARKING: Yes
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

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