The clock was ticking. We were already an hour overdue. We were minutes away from a total meltdown. It was well past the kids dinner time and the natives were getting restless. We had taken the afternoon to explore Icon Park, home of the Orlando Eye, Ripley’s Aquarium and other entertainment attractions and restaurants. The kids were enjoying themselves with the outdoor space and warm weather. We had lost track of time and now the price for that mistake was going to be paid…in full, if we didn’t think quickly.
There were a few Halal options nearby, despite the flagship Halal spot Paramount Fine Foods having closed down a couple of years ago. There was Café Istanbul 34, a hookah restaurant that served halal meat but also alcohol (As we note in our About page, we try to avoid those spots). There was also Makani, an home-style Egyptian restaurant with glitz and glamour, but they were still in their soft launch phase, not a place you want to take two hungry screaming children. My wife desperately popped the last of the snacks into our kids mouths to buy some time to think.
“Fried rice” she expertly suggested.
Chaat House, home of Little China, was about 20 minutes away…too far. We remembered there was a small Halal Indo-Chinese restaurant near Slim’s Phillycheese Steak called CHINA 3. Only 10 minutes away.
It was short quick drive from the Orlando from the Orlando Eye, despite the kids loudly reminding us they were hungry. They are located right next to Slim’s Phillysteak, a famous late night halal fast food spot amongst the locals. They are not too far from Disney Springs making it a convenient location for tourists to the city. There was plenty of free parking in the plaza.
While the name states CHINA 3, the décor of the restaurant lacks any personality or character. The large vase at the back of the restaurant was the only hint that this was restaurant that served Chinese food. The bright orange walls screamed louder than our kids. The dining area setup was interesting with square tables on one side of the restaurant and round tables on the other side. There was outdoor seating to take refuge under the blue sky from the orange walls.
We entered the restaurant and sat down at the first round table near the windows so the kids could be distracted by the traffic outside. The server lacked any enthusiasm when bringing us the menu. We knew exactly what we needed. Chicken fried rice and beef lo mein. We knew when she brought out paper plates for us, we weren’t in for a fine dining experience. She did crack a smile after seeing the kids practically attack the fried rice before she even got a chance to put it on the table. Later on in the meal, the owner came out to greet us and ask how the meal was. Both my wife and I replied “Merciful”.
I’m not sure if it was because the kids were so hungry or because the food was intrinsically good, but we did enjoy our dishes. The food came out steaming hot and as the owner repeatedly said “food was freshly made and prepared to order”. Compared to Chaat House and their Little China menu, the food was comparable in portion but the taste and meat quantity was more. We didn’t get a chance to sample their Indian grill menu, but they have several offerings including chicken tikka and kabobs.
Clearly this isn’t a fine dining restaurant as indicated by the sparse décor, sparse service and ample paper plates. Having said that, there was value in the food given the taste, quality and quantity. The portions were decent for the price and comparable to that of Chaat House to within a few dollars. Most dishes fall in a price range of 9 to 12 USD and can be shared amongst the family creating costs savings for the family dining experience. Given the more convenient location, there is added value for tourists not wanting to travel further from their Disney or Universal resorts.
While this spot is not the fanciest or most formal of the Halal restaurants in Orlando, it is a good spot for eating if that is the only factor you are considering. The décor and service are basic, but the fact that it is a Halal spot open late (up to 2 AM) makes it great especially for those Muslim visitors that have spent a long hot day in the theme parks. The family size portions make it easy to order a few different dishes so everyone can try and enjoy the meal together.
Food Category: Indo-Chinese
Guru’s Rapid Review: 3.0 of 5 Stars
Must Try: Beef Lo Mein
Address: 11981 S Apopka Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32836
Phone: (407) 465-0788