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.
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.
"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.
Armed with a culinary education from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, Chef John Westerhaus uses classical techniques and international flavors to create refined American cuisine. His inspiration stems from a deep love for the simple menus of Parisian sidewalk cafés. For starters, a chipotle-spiked hollandaise sauce blankets a plate of smoked salmon and corn cakes, and garlic-ginger dipping sauce graces lobster spring rolls. For entrees, the restaurant's chefs demonstrate their mastery of traditional American cuisine by grilling rib eyes, Kansas City–style strip steaks, and trout fillets over a pile of smoldering baseballs.
Purple booths and napkins add a splash of color to the dining room's gently lit earth tones. Stone walls divide the dining area from the kitchen, and two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows separate the restaurant from the outside world. To keep things lively indoors, the restaurant hosts live performances by local musicians Wednesday–Sunday, serenading diners with cool jazz and gentle R&B melodies.