Frankly, I don't know why this place isn't more popular. I no longer live in the area, so anytime I come back to Birmingham I try to stop and have at least one meal at Hunan Garden because it's been so consistently good over the last two decades.Everything about this place is old school Chinese restaurant, from the décor to the worn booths, to the menu. Even the way the waitstaff acts around customers, it's a whole different vibe. It isn't chic, it isn't trendy and it sure isn't slick and modern. But it is really, really good food, and isn't that the most important thing?The last time I dined in, I tried the Hunan Combination, which has shrimp, chicken and pork in a sweet and spicy sauce. Think of General Tso's but with a lighter, brighter sauce and you get the idea. It was good, but not very spicy at all, and there were only a few shrimp in the entire dish. Everything was super tender, at least.My dining companions picked their usual favorites: Lemon Chicken and Mongolian Beef. The Lemon Chicken is almost like a citrus candy it's so sweet, and the breaded and fried chicken is tender, but with a crunchy crust. The Mongolian beef is a real standout thanks to the thin, crispy slices of beef. There's a deep umami flavor at work here that compliments the tang of the green onions.Sweet tea is always good and sweet and strong, too, which is nice. The servers might seem to be kind of aloof or even rude at first, but they open up quickly and are good with suggestions and advice. Drinks are quickly refilled and the overall dinner pace is usually on the slow side of efficient but good enough.After all these years, it remains my single favorite Chinese restaurant anywhere in the state of Alabama. The quality of the food, the flavor and the great prices charged are just an unbeatable combination, even if it is old and showing its age, and out of touch with the hipster diner ethic of today. That just makes it all the better in my book.