Most people associate comfort food with hearty, stick-to-your-ribs dishes.

Not Elizabeth Denneau.

"Most comfort food is mac and cheese," says the local fashion designer and business owner. "Mine is Guilin."

The Chinese restaurant known for its healthy vegetarian offerings has been a part of Denneau's life for years. A friend introduced Denneau back when she was a poor, fledgling vegetarian.

"I fell in love and then we discovered they deliver, and it was all over," laughs Denneau, 34, who owns CandyStrike, a downtown clothing store catering to plus-size women.

Her life-changing order: kung pao shrimp, with extra shrimp, brown rice and a side of veggie drumsticks.

"The vegetables are always cooked perfect, not too soft, not too crunchy," says Denneau, a newlywed who introduced her husband, Neil, to Guilin long ago. "They cook the shrimp just right, they're never overcooked."

The shrimp are nestled in a bed of veggies - cubes of carrot, zucchini and celery along with peas. The kung pao sauce strikes that delicate balance between spicy and sweet, says Denneau, who prefers a gentle heat. Though she's no longer vegetarian, Denneau still snacks on the deep-fried, soy drumsticks.

Denneau estimates she orders from Guilin two or three times a month, but back in the days when she was cranking out clothing for monthly fashion shows, Guilin was practically her kitchen.

"I was just exhausted," says Denneau, who loves to whip up Vietnamese specialties at home. "You don't want to cook anything. You're just beaten down because you're making all these clothes. Comfort food was ordering that dish - and they deliver. I wouldn't even have to go in."

She'd call in often enough that invariably the voice on the other end would ask, "Is this Lizz?" Denneau recalls with a laugh.

"It was kind of this little family that would feed me when I was stuck under the sewing machine," she says.

The kung pao shrimp always satisfies.

"The best part is leftovers - cold Chinese food. There's nothing better."

Guilin Chinese Restaurant

3250 E. Speedway, 320-7768

The dish that makes local designer/business owner Elizabeth Denneau swoon: kung pao shrimp, with extra shrimp (you get three for $1), and brown rice ($9.50) along with a side of vegetarian drumsticks (four for $5.95).


It was kind of this little family that would feed me when I was stuck under the sewing machine.


Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194.