Chef Sheng Li, server Maryan (no last name given), and kitchen worker Felipe Lemus are part of the attentive staff at 168 Cafe.
Chef Sheng Li, server Maryan (no last name given), and kitchen worker Felipe Lemus are part of the attentive staff at 168 Cafe.

I had to stay a couple of nights at my friend Tim’s house due to some housing renovations. I’m not exactly an easy house guest. Within minutes of my arrival, accompanied by my two large, furry dogs, I went right for his refrigerator, where I complained there wasn’t enough beer. I then proceeded to take over his TV. That night I wondered if he would change my pillows as I didn’t care for the ones in the guest room. By the end of my stay, he wasn’t shedding tears to see me go. To thank him for his never-ending patience with me, I decided to take him to dinner at 168 Café, as we’d both wanted to check the place out for a while.

168 Café is in a strip mall just south of Plumb Lane. The décor is simple but nice and clean, with bright white walls and some Asian inspired decorations. Tim and I arrived at a strange time, so we were basically the only ones in the place, which worked out well because we spent a lot of time reviewing the extensive menu that ranged from more “Americanized” dishes, like beef broccoli, to more exotic dishes like jellyfish and even hot pot. I like that they offer both because it means there is something for everyone. Our waitress, Maryan, was very friendly and made suggestions as to what we should get and tried to steer us away from ordering too many similar dishes, which I really appreciated. She brought out some hot tea and sweet and sour soup to start. The soup was wonderful, with large slices of vegetables and a sweet, tangy finish. Maryan even offered us seconds, treatment I certainly didn’t get staying at Tim’s house.

For entrées, we went with dry fried beef Ho Fun ($7.95) and chicken curry ($8.95). We also decided to order from the Chef’s specialties and went with the Shanghai sweet and sour ribs ($10.95). The food took a while to arrive, which made me happy because I knew it was actually being cooked instead of shoveled out of pre-made pans, plus Maryan had warned us that the ribs would take about 20 minutes.

The food was well worth the wait. The dry fried beef Ho Fun arrived first, and was the favorite of the night. It had thick noodles, lots of tender beef, and green onions that exploded with flavor in my mouth. The ribs arrived next, and we were both impressed by the large plate of ribs sprinkled with sesame seeds. I had to be careful, as these were rib tips, so the first one I bit into got my tooth a little, but it was worth the work. The ribs had a lot of sauce, but it had a nice tangy flavor, so I didn’t mind the mess. The chicken curry arrived next along with some white sticky rice. The curry had a ton of chicken in it along with some red and green peppers, onions and bamboo shoots. The curry was just OK. I prefer spicier curry, but we had plenty of other food to keep us busy—so much that we got to take some leftovers home.

Overall, I really enjoyed my dining experience. I definitely want to come back and try some of the more adventurous dishes. Good Chinese food is hard to find in Reno, but this place seems to be the solution. In fact, Tim was so impressed I might actually be able to stay at his house again as long as I take him out to dinner at 168 Café.

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