Diners' eyes rise as soon as they enter Grand Buffet's front doors, gazing up toward the ornate crystal chandelier that dangles from the ceiling and casts its gentle glow throughout the dining room. Beneath this glimmering light, guests have the opportunity to indulge in a menu of regional Chinese cuisine inspired by recipes found throughout the country. Dishes such as spicy, Hunan-style chicken, moo shu pork, and fiery, Szechuan-style beef represent the menu's broad geographical scope. Lobster fried rice, vegetable lo mein, and other familiar favorites help round out the selection. To ensure that their cooking can be tailored to suit almost any palate, the chefs are willing to adjust the amount of spice in certain dishes. These entrees can feature anything from a mild, warming spice to an incendiary amount of heat that could turn an ice sculpture into a steam sculpture.
The Tan brothers grew up in the restaurant industry, as their father was a renowned chef of China. At Rong Tan's, this trio of siblings brings its family traditions to the states with a menu honed overseas. Diners can savor sichuan-spiced lobster stewed with veggies or order the Empress chicken, lightly fried and served on a throne of pure gold. Rice and noodle dishes, house specialties—including the orange-flavored beef—and vegetable options round out a menu with dozens of entrees.
The carved bodies of fierce dragons, their eyes aglow with neon red lights, corkscrew about Magic Wok’s foyer as if awakened by the aromas of Sichuan, Hunan, Mandarin, and Cantonese dishes. In the dining room, lime-green walls come alive with red tapestries, accented by canary-hued Chinese pictograms. After polishing off a Thai-style fish fillet, guests retreat to the bar to sip plum wine, elixirs wrung from apples and pineapple, or champagne with all the bubbles picked out.
Now entering the fourth generation of familial ownership, Ding Ho continues its 55-year tradition of prepping and polishing plates stacked creatively with savory meats. Although many delectable dishes compete for top honors, regulars often launch off from the safe, satiating platform provided by an order of crispy egg rolls ($1.50 each). The char sue bok toy arrives steaming with barbecued pork with Chinese greens in a hot pan ($7.75 dinner only), and the kung pao beef engulfs taste buds with beef, diced vegetables, and peanuts glazed with a hot, spicy sauce ($9.50 dinner only). For eclectic forkfuls of flavor, noodle mavens can indulge in orders of lo mein with pork ($5.75/lunch, $8/dinner), vegetables ($5.25/lunch, $7.50/dinner), or beef ($5.75/lunch, $8.50/dinner) or dig through the curry-splashed Singapore rice noodles in search of buried teeth treasures such as shrimp, chicken, and barbecued pork ($9.95 dinner only).
What made you want to work with food? When did you first develop that passion?
I've been involved in the food service industry all of my adult life. I enjoy preparing and serving [food for] my guests, friends, and family.
What is one of your most popular offerings? How is it prepared?
It's hard to pick one dish that is the most popular item. We make a great jambalaya?it is a slow-cooked meal filled with shredded pork, Andouille sausage, tomatoes, and shrimp, served over rice. Our most popular sandwich is the black bean burger?it's prepared from scratch. It's a spicy blend of black beans, carrots, onion, oats, and cilantro.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
A friendly menu for a variety of diners. We enjoy accommodating the needs of our guests.
A part-time college job turned into a career when John Ko married the daughter of China Dynasty's original owners. John, his wife, and his in-laws are content with maintaining the same traditions that have lasted more than 25 years. John's mother-in-law continues to work in the kitchen as head chef, cooking a familiar assortment of classic Chinese dishes that draws inspiration from various regional styles throughout the country. Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce, Cantonese-style roast duck, and spicy Szechwan green beans with chicken represent just a handful of dishes that have endured at China Dynasty over the decades.
A golden statue of a jovial, laughing Buddha greets diners as soon as they enter the restaurant's expanded space, which features two dining rooms as well as a full-service bar area. Lipstick-red chairs surround the tables that fill the intimately lit space and red accent walls similarly add a splash of color amid the rooms' pale green and tan color schemes. In addition to the Buddha statue, China Dynasty features a small collection of traditional Asian artwork and artifacts on its walls, including silk clothing, oversized Chinese hanzi, and baby pictures of the restaurant's first lo mein noodle.