Going Local is a new feature where the WKTV News staff visits a local Wyoming-Kentwood business for lunch.
By: Mike DeWitt
When Joanne pitched the idea of Going Local during an editorial meeting two weeks ago, I said yes faster than Google’s response time (.84 seconds) when you type “food” into the search bar. I almost came up with as many results (1.9 billion) too.
My love for food cannot be quantified, and the thought process behind it is simple – if people eat it, it must taste good! People don’t prepare and eat things they don’t like. I treat every meal as a date with the contents on the plate and my eagerness to try local delicacies makes my heart flutter and taste buds melt.
Joanne, you had me at “Local.”
The inaugural lunch trip for Going Local was to China City in Kentwood. After hearing rave reviews from co-workers and commenters on Facebook, it’s safe to say my excitement was through the roof. A quick visit to the restaurants Yelp! page had me giddy as a school girl. However, there were a couple of reviews that were negative and completely off base from what others had personally told me. Turns out there’s a China City in Grand Rapids as well. Those commenters were probably commenting on the wrong page.
China City is located in a small strip mall on Eastern Avenue. The restaurant has been around for 10 years, seven in the current location. The neon glow of the “Open” and “Bakery” sign greet you from the window. Yeah, that’s right, a Chinese bakery as well! We hadn’t even walked in the door and I was already head-over-heels.
Upon entering, the contents of the bakery greeted you with their sugary delight – temptation before we even sat down. The seating area is small and homely with four booths lining each side and four tables in the middle of the room. It presented a quiet feel and a pleasant place to hold a conversation throughout the meal.
Once seated, we were able to dive into the menu. One thing that immediately jumped out was how affordable the lunch prices were. All of the dishes were under $7.50 and included a choice of soup (egg drop or hot & sour), choice of crab cheese or an egg roll, and a choice of fried or white rice (not included with a noodle meal). Top it off with hot tea and a fortune cookie and no one leaves with an empty stomach.
After a quick glance at the menu, my eyes locked in on chicken lo mein and my mouth began to salivate. I had found a my date for lunch and was sure we would hit it off!
First came the egg drop soup and it was packed with flavor. While some renditions can taste a little bland, the soup was sweet and a nice primer for the main course.
About that main course, it was a larger portion that I was expecting for the price and it wasn’t overly salted. In fact, the taste was quite soothing. Some might describe it as “bland”, but I loved it. The taste wasn’t overpowering and it was effortless moving from a bite of the lo mein to the egg roll. The tastes complimented one another.
When it’s all said and done, I leave every restaurant asking myself two questions:
1. Am I full?
2. Would I go back?
The answer to both of these is a resounding yes, and it only cost $7.
By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
China City Bakery and Restaurant on Eastern Avenue, just south of 52nd Street. Not to be confused with China City Chinese Restaurant in Grand Rapids.
I thought the restaurant’s sign was adorable with the green and white giving it an old road-sign feel.
Inside, the restaurant was cleaned and inviting with the owner showing us to a table. I lingered a little as China City has a bakery case that included little heart-shaped strawberry and lemon cakes along with rather large almond cookies for 35 cents. “Life is short, eat dessert first” ran through my head as I pulled myself away from the bakery case. Besides, I have to pass it on the way out anyways.
We scanned the two-page lunch menu – well I scanned, Mike took photos of the menu. My goto Chinese dish is chicken broccoli or some variation of that. I went with the variation, pineapple chicken, which had broccoli, chicken, pineapple and water chestnuts. Lunch servings all come with a choice of soup, crab rangoons or egg rolls and white or fried rice.
Just by tasting, you could tell the soup was made fresh. It also had just a touch of sweetness.
The lunch meal came out fairly quickly. It was a nice portion size with at least a cup and half of the entry and fried rice. I don’t normally order fried rice, but a friend had recommended trying China City’s, so I opted for it and was not disappointed.
With many Chinese restaurants, the lunch version usually has a small egg roll. This was not the case as the egg roll was very plump, another obvious sign that the food is made fresh daily. The pineapple and chicken was a little on the bland for me, but some soy sauce kicked it up a notch.
A couple of items: if you are allergic to shellfish, check to see if the egg rolls have any. I found a couple of small pieces in mine. Also, the food is not overly salted so if you like salt, you may need to add it.
On the way out, I decided to get a small box of almond cookies to “share” and try the vanilla cake, which had a coconut filling. The almond cookies literally melted in my mouth and I had eaten four before I knew it.