Owners Peter and Andrea Nguyen apply 20 years of Chinese cooking experience to fill empty tummies with an extensive buffet of bottomless eats and cooked-to-order dishes for delivery. Diners stroll down the alley formed by glass-domed counters to search sizzling trays filled with fresh dishes, such as stir-fried beef or bubbling soups. A chilled section shelters a colorful spread of fresh fruits and salads to fill out meals with natural sugars and roughage. A private dining room accommodates up to 50 guests with room enough to sate a large celebration or seat an emergency session of the state senate.
In the eyes of New China Town's proprietors, dining, at its best, should be a communal experience. That's why an entire section of the menu is dedicated to family dinners. Accommodating up to six people, these shareable feasts include staples such as crab rangoon, kung pao chicken, and those tasty strips of paper inside fortune cookies.
Of course, all of New China Town's traditional dishes––from BBQ pork to orange chicken smothered in housemade sauce––are available as individual portions, too. Alongside Chinese specialties, the culinary team whips up a handful of Thai dishes, including beef pad thai and red curry with shrimp. Meals unfold inside a cozy dining room with simple white booths, lime walls, and orchids.
"A computer can't understand a handshake," says Jack Schwindler, explaining why he retired after 32 years as a food broker. He missed the face-to-face aspect of the business, which diminished as technology swiftly advanced. So when he and his wife found a defunct marina on Lake Lotawana, where Jack spent his childhood, he found his calling. In 1993, Jack and his wife opened Marina Grog & Galley, and now, Jack says, "I'm shaking hands again."
Marina Grog and Galley is run by a tight-knit crew of longtime employees, including servers who have worked there since 1996. Their menu boasts dry-aged steaks from a local purveyor and fresh fish flown in from Hawaii three times a week. The smell of steaks searing over mesquite charcoal drifts out to the front driveway, creating an aroma that attracts passersby and envious traveling steak peddlers. Other specialties include baby-back ribs crafted from a recipe Jack penned when he was 21 years old, and a range of fried, boiled, and stuffed shrimp.
Every night, Jack visits with guests at the tables arranged around the dining room, which look out at the lake or a 1,500-gallon saltwater tank that houses a 48-foot living reef. Leather seats in cobalt blue comfort backs, and stone fireplaces warm the stone walls and light wood around the restaurant. Outdoor tables along the water seat up to 150 people, and on-deck fireplaces keep diners comfortable. "Something happens every night in the restaurant business," says Jack, and he doesn't want to miss a minute of it.
Within Blue Yuu’s kitchen, chefs harmonize influences from Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean cuisine. Sushi chefs wrap rice and fresh fish with sheets of nori as servers deliver sizzling iron plates of Szechuan-style seafood and black pepper beef. Hot stoneware cossets bibimbaps, which consist of vegetables, kimchi, egg, and hot sauce. Dulcet sauces coat Chinese dishes such as mango chicken and General Tso’s chicken, and provide contrast to fiery Thai curries.
Add some sepia tone and photo grain, and a snapshot of Hereford House could make it pass for an old Western saloon. But the photo would actually be of a modern steak house that churns out aged steaks, seafood, and ribs—the same fare that put Kansas City meat markets on the map at the turn of the century. In the dinner menu, most everything walks across the grill before being served. The steak oscar entree eschews the barriers that separate land from sea by teaming up a 6-ounce filet mignon with jumbo lump crab pilfered from crustacean birthday parties and pan-seared to perfection. Juicy tenderloin medallions come smothered in red-wine demi glace, and oven-roasted cuts of salmon arrive in pools of garlic herb butter.