Focus 2020: Kearney Area Eats

By MARY JANE SKALA Hub Staff Writer KEARNEY — “No one’s a stranger here.” That’s what Mary Livingston says about Tex’s Cafe, the restaurant she has owned at 23 E. 21st St. for 31 years. She should know. She’s worked there for 47 years. Livingston became a waitress there in 1973 when she was a senior at Kearney High School. She never left. At that time, Tex’s Cafe was located at 1810 Highway 30, where Foote’s Convenience Store and gas station are now. “I always wanted to cook and do all that stuff. I got my high school diploma and kept working at Tex’s,” she said. “I did every- thing. I made homemade gravy and meatloaf like Mom did. I even fixed leaks. If there was a leak in the ceil- ing, I just got out the duct tape until the plumber got there.” The founder of Tex’s Cafe was TEX’S, PAGE 9 2020 KEARNEY AREA KEARNEY HUB • SATURDAY, FEB. 22, 2020 By MIKE KONZ Hub Enterprise Editor KEARNEY — For Chuanyao ‘Yao’ Zheng, a meal at Hunan Chinese Restaurant is like a trip home to Shanghai. At Hunan she can enjoy eggplant and pork, lamb with green onions or — for the days she’s not eating meat — vegetarian tofu and green beans. If Zheng’s favorites sound unfamiliar to American fans of Chinese food, it’s because they are authentic Chinese cooking. Those dishes and others are available at Hunan, but only if you order from a second menu written in Chinese. There’s not a word of English on the menu, so a translator might be helpful. Oh, yes, and you should call ahead so Hunan’s chefs have the ingredients on hand for your authentic Chinese meal. “We’ve been frequent customers at Hunan for years,” said Zheng. “They catered our wedding food. We had half authentic food and half American-style Chinese.” Zheng and her husband, Alex Golovin, are among a limited number of Hunan cus- tomers who usually order from the restau- rant’s authentic menu, which lists tasty and unusual items that are commonly served in her native land. Although some of the menu’s ingredi- ents may sound familiar to Americans, the flavors, combinations of ingredients and textures can be surprising to diners who have never had a fish or duck’s head look- ing back at them from the dinner plate. Peter Jianduan, who owns Hunan Restau- rant with Michael Zhao, the head chef, said the recipes on his restaurant’s “American Get real at Hunan Chefs prepare authentic Chinese dishes — and popular ‘American Chinese’ entrees Sautéed golden onions “ If you want to eat traditional Chinese, start by trying a little bit of everything. ” Alex Golovin HUNAN, PAGE 9 Erika Pritchard, Kearney Hub Flames leap from under the wok as chef Jian Lin, front, and Michael Zhao prepare authen- tic dishes at Kearney’s Hunan Chinese Restaurant. You can count on Tex’s Erika Pritchard, Kearney Hub A club sandwich and fries is a classic lunch that may be ordered at Tex’s Cafe in down- town Kearney. Menu doesn’t change on purpose One of Tex’s Cafe’s Friday lunch specials is mountain oysters served with two sides for $9.75. At left, Glen Jonas of Lafayette, Ind., left, and Jim Zecha of Kearney met for mountain oysters at Tex’s Cafe on Valentine’s Day. Jonas made his once-a-year trek to Kearney to visit his old friend and to eat Tex’s mountain oysters, which he has been enjoying since about 1987. Jonas used to visit the restaurant and Zecha, who co-owned Inter-Motion in Kearney, more often when he bought equipment for Caterpillar. Double sautéed Chinese sausage Sliced pork with snow peas A bit spicy, the sliced boiled pork dish is filled with meat, broth and tender-crisp vegeta- bles, an authentic recipe from the kitchen of Hunan Chinese Restaurant.