Chances are that if I were to ask you what comes to mind when I mention Chico, CA, you’d probably give a laugh and mention something about its party school reputation, if you’d heard of it at all. While I hate to break it to you that it was only voted the number one party school once (in 1987) by Playboy Magazine, there’s something even more fantastic in Chico than what constitutes the party school atmosphere. It isn’t the lovely tree-lined streets, nor abundance of parks. It has nothing to do with the multitude of friendly faces greeting you at every turn. It’s a Mongolian barbecue restaurant, and its name is Hula’s.
Hula’s became a staple in my life while going to school at CSU, Chico. Not only is it a fabulous and healthy meal (usually 2 meals, as the portions are so large); it serves as the perfect hangover cure. I swear by it. I’ll buy it for lunch/dinner, go out at night, and will myself back to life with it the next day. I went up to Chico for Charise’s birthday and true to tradition, we made use of Hula’s hangover cure. Find yourself in Chico, CA wondering where to eat? I highly recommend Hula’s.
The following is what you can expect at one of their two locations. You start with an empty bowl, fill it with whatever you want, they saute it on a larger-than-life wok and throw it back into a new bowl, and then you dig in. The freshness and variety of the veggies available always surprises me. Bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli, onions, celery… and that’s not everything! You single-handedly (okay, I suppose double-handedly if your bowl gets out of control..) get to mix and match everything that is in your bowl, including any combination of meats and sauces. Please, don’t even get me started on how delicious the super thick Shanghai noodles are.
Over my years of frequenting Hula’s, I’ve perfected my own recipe card for the most glorious and delicious bowl, as well as my technique for stuffing as much goodness into my bowl as possible. I’ll give you a hint: use one bowl for filling and one for smashing everything down throughtout the process! I’m always sure to include tons of noodles, tofu, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, squash, and carrots. I always use at least 12 spoonfuls of a combination of my favorite sauces, including teriyaki, soy sauce, cooking wine, and garlic oil. I know it sounds like a lot, but you have to realize that some of the sauce is lost in the cooking process. Once the fully cooked bowl of amazing is delivered back to me, I top it with pineapple chunks, grab some chopsticks, and head back to my table to dig in. A trick of the seasoned Hula’s vet: when getting your to-go box for your leftovers, put the rice (it comes with your meal) in the box first, then throw your leftovers on top. When you reach for your hangover cure the next morning (or later that night..), all of the sauces and flavors will have melded into the rice, YUM! Here are some mouthwatering photos of what you can expect, should you ever venture to Chico, California.