Hunan Gourmet on West Seventh Street claims to have the "Best Vegetarian Cuisine in Frederick." As I'm a vegan, I decided to give it a try.

The restaurant, which specializes in Hunan and Szechuan cuisine, is simply and tastefully decorated on the interior.

Just inside is a beautiful wood and painted-glass partition, which separates the diners from the entranceway, with a small fish tank next to it.

In the back of the restaurant there is a large fish tank -- with an even larger fish in it.

The walls, which are a golden-orange, are lined with comfortable black booths. Over each booth is a low-hanging, red paper lantern that creates a feeling of intimacy.

Square tables fill the center of the restaurant.

When my guest, my boyfriend Michael, and I walked into the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly woman and asked to seat ourselves. We chose to sit at one of the booths.

On the table there were paper placemats with Chinese zodiac signs on them. Michael pointed out that 2012 is the year of the dragon, which happens to be my Chinese zodiac sign. As a dragon, I am considered driven and eccentric with a temper that easily flares. This is surprisingly accurate.

During lunch hours, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays, Hunan has a special menu. Both my boyfriend and I were surprised at how inexpensive the lunch specials are.

Lunch dishes are all served with a spring roll, fried rice, and a choice of soup (egg drop with corn, wonton, or hot-and-sour. Prices range from about $5 to $7.

You would be hard-pressed to find a meal that wasn't fast food for less money in the area.

I ordered mixed vegetables with bean curd in a vegetarian brown sauce. Michael, unlike me a through-and-through carnivore, ordered chicken lo mein.

Our dishes were presented to us in what felt like just a few minutes and were arranged tastefully on square, white plates. The portions were also reasonable -- just enough to satisfy my hunger.

My tofu was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of crispness to it. The brown sauce, a staple of Chinese cooking, that covered my tofu and vegetables was yummy. The rice was also cooked perfectly and my spring roll wasn't overly greasy.

Besides specializing in vegetarian dishes, Hunan uses zero trans fat oil.

Michael enjoyed his chicken lo mien, although he thought there was a little too much soy sauce for his taste. Michael is notoriously picky about food.

He did mention that he loved the crispiness of the bok choy -- or Chinese cabbage -- that was mixed in with his lo mien.

We received our token fortune cookies with the check. The paper inside my cookie read, "Heroism is endurance for one moment more." I believe that makes us all heroes.

Michael and I walked out of Hunan satisfied and only having spent about $15.

If you're in the mood for classic Chinese food and want an inexpensive dining experience without having to sacrifice taste, Hunan Gourmet is the place to go.

The Dish reports on an unannounced dining experience and is not meant to be a critical review.