Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beckley Edition: Young Chow's Chinese Cuisine

While on our way to Charleston for a Ring of Honor match, Chris and I stopped in Beckley for some grub. I had a vague idea of some restaurants that I wanted to try, but when I knew we were stopping for sure, I did some research. A few people had suggested Young Chow's. I don't need much convincing to try a Chinese restaurant.

It's located off Exit 44, so it's near that cluster of restaurants. But you do drive about a mile back on Pikeview Drive, so there is some sense of seclusion from the hustle and bustle.

The building is awesome - it's not a boring storefront. It's designed and complemented with some flora. When you walk in, it's almost like a different world. A high skylight brings in the sun's rays, while plants' leaves drape from the ceiling. A light trickle of water splashes from a mellow waterfall. The dining area is fairly large, and there is also a bar and a drive-thru/carry-out area.

We happened to be here for lunch time, so we were able to get a good amount of food for a fairly low price. The lunch menu seems to be a condensed version of their full menu. Unfortunately, we didn't get a sushi menu, even though I would've loved to. The lunch items didn't have definitions beneath, so while some items were clear, some were a shot in the dark. I took a shot in the dark with their "Young Chow's Special Chicken."


It also came with some extras that were kind of unclear. The menu reads - "Served with an egg roll or 3 piece cheese wonton, fried rice, and choice of garden salad or one of the following soups: (1) egg drop, (2) wonton, (3) hot and sour.

I opted for my egg roll, fried rice, and wonton soup. But I wouldn't have had the slightest idea based on that mangled mess of a paragraph. It could greatly benefit from some semicolons.

"Served with an eggroll or thee-piece cheese wonton; fried rice; choice of garden salad or one of the following soups (1) egg drop (2) wonton (3) hot and sour."

Long story short, I didn't know if I was going to get the cheese wontons, so we ordered an appetizer of those. Chris ordered the Kung Pow chicken, which was another dish recommended to us.

The woman taking our orders was very sweet, and she brought us out some dishes as a pre-appetizer, I guess you could say. It was like a build-your-own-eggroll of sorts: an oil/vinegar cabbage slaw and some fried egg roll wrappers. We also had some duck sauce and hot mustard sauce for dipping. I tried this combination a few times, and it wasn't bad. It was kind of fun, actually, but without some meat or other filling, there wasn't much substance. But for a free appetizer, it was great - especially considering at some other places all you get is the fried wrapper and some duck sauce. Here, you get a tone-downed version of an eggroll for free.

Wonton Soup
Our soups were quick to follow. My wonton soup was good - a basic beef broth, with scallions and a thick noodle in the center was tasty. But then I tried Chris' hot and sour soup and was immediately jealous. While it may have been a bit too much to eat the hot and sour soup alone, I really enjoyed mixing his hot and sour with my wonton to give mine a sweeter taste.

Our cheese wontons came out soon. They were much smaller and fewer in number than I anticipated. The shape resembled more of a pouch than those four-pointed cornered ones. The cheese mixture inside was tasty, though. It was full, so you got a good taste of both the creamy cheese and the crisp outside. Some were a little too greasy though, and I got a taste of oil. But overall, pretty tasty.

Kung Pow Chicken - Chris'
Hot & Sour Soup
When our main dishes came out, they looked fantastic. The fried rice was speckled with egg and veggies. A small eggroll was placed on the side, along with a few broccoli florets. And on the center stage sat the "special" chicken.

I tried the fried rice first; I usually go for white rice, but this was good. I hate the rice that's overcooked, dripping in grease. This was moist and added a good base for the special chicken - which was essentially a sweetened BBQ. It was almost too sweet, but I combined bites of the chicken with the rice to make a Chinese food symphony of flavors. The eggroll was also quite tasty, with the ingredients being high-quality.

Chris also seemed to enjoy his Kung Pow chicken. He thought it was about average tasting.

Was it the best Chinese food I've ever had? No. Was it the best Chinese food I've had near Beckley? Oh yes. The atmosphere was really interesting and a nice oasis from the busyness. The service was great. And we got a ton of different food for the price. I love being able to try a little bit of everything. And most of what I had was really great. Overall, though, had the cheese wontons been a little less oily and the chicken less sweet, I think it would've been a homerun.

Grade: B
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