Just off I-78 on Hamilton Boulevard is Hunan Springs, the fanciest Chinese restaurant I've ever been to and home to what I consider to be the best Chinese food in Lehigh Valley.

Aside from the variety, quality and presentation of the food, what really sets Hunan Springs apart is the atmosphere. The building is a huge old farmhouse with exposed beams, stone walls and an enormous oak door that makes me feel like I'm entering a castle. Instead of the standard lanterns with tassels and Asian artwork, you'll find an enormous salt-water fish tank and cozy booths with bamboo shoots in glasses on the tables.

Speaking of atmosphere ... according to Lehigh Valley lore, when the building was Widow Brown's Inn (prior to Hunan Springs moving in) a "presence" had been sensed in the front area of the restaurant. For the record, I've never felt or seen anything "unusual" during my visits there.

Anyway, in the six years I've been eating at Hunan Springs, I have never (that's right, I said never) had a bad dining experience. The presentation of the food is always beautiful and unique. For example, my staple appetizer, Teriyaki Beef: four pieces of marinated beef on skewers each topped with a chunk of pineapple and a cherry served aside a tiny hibachi grill for you to heat up yourself. Fun and delicious!

You can get the standard cuisine found at any Asian restaurant at Hunan Springs, but they also have things like quail, duck and squid for people (unlike me) who like the exotic and things like bean curd and eggplant for my vegetarian friends. I've tried several of the beef and pork entrees on the menu, but my favorite always comes down to their very simple yet incredibly tasty Lo Mein.

One last thing that sets Hunan Springs apart are their phenomenal servers. They are on top of everything, from taking your order to refilling your drink to wrapping up your leftovers. Plus, they are always so pleasant. That alone makes Hunan Springs worth trying in my book!

Have you experienced Hunan Springs?