A lot of things are little at Little Monk's, a new stir-fry restaurant at 4734 S. Broadway.
For one, the menu is little — 11 stir-fry combinations and a few appetizers.
The prices are little, too. Most dishes cost $5 and under.
The dining room is also small, in a cozy kind of way, and it occupies the space that once housed Panda Chinese Restaurant.
But the portions aren't little, which is drawing decent traffic to the restaurant, opened in June by partners Jose Mendez and Nathan Gasser.
The duo has dreams of expanding its little restaurant into a local chain.
ON THE MENU: The menu includes a list of stir-fry combinations served with a choice of white or fried rice or lo mein noodles and featuring lots of fresh vegetables, homemade sauces and choice of meat (chicken, beef, pork or shrimp).
Also offered: egg rolls, crab Rangoon and a sweet-and-sour chicken appetizer as well as a kids' menu.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: They cost only $5, so it's hard to complain too much about the tasty dishes served at Little Monk's.
A favorite was the island curry, which we ordered with shrimp ($5.99) The coconut curry sauce truly did invoke the flavor of the islands, and it also included fresh celery, broccoli, carrots and zucchini. (And when's the last time you had a shrimp dish that was $5.99?)
Also good — the ginger stir-fry, made with onions, celery, snow peas, broccoli and a rich ginger sauce. Again, we ordered it with shrimp and were impressed by the freshness and tastiness.
The pineapple stir-fry had similar tastiness potential: Its teriyaki sauce was perfectly sweet, and sliced carrots, broccoli and celery were perfectly crisp. But we ordered it with chicken, which was overly dry and disappointing.
The beef in our Mongolian stir-fry also was dry and chewy. That dish was the only major disappointment, with an odd-tasting, bland sauce and too many monochromatic vegetables.
We also sampled all three available appetizers — crab Rangoon (79 cents), egg roll (two for $1) and sweet-and-sour chicken ($1.99 for five pieces). All were basic but tasty versions of themselves, and all were inexpensive.
AMBIENCE: The dining room is painted in rich oranges and reds and nicely decorated.
PRICE RANGE: Reasonable. Stir-fries with chicken, beef or pork are $4.99; dishes with shrimp are $5.99; veggie-only dishes are $4.29; and combo chicken and beef dishes are $6.99.
SERVICE: Customers order at the counter, take a number and wait for their food to be delivered to the table. Our wait was a little long, but the staff was friendly and helpful.