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332 South Main St.
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-
10:30 p m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-12 a.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
By Leslie Pettis
W HEN I MOVED to town nearly 10
years ago there were only two
Chinese resteurants here -Leo Ping's,
where Bongiovanni's is now and the
Pagoda, still at its same location. A
recent scan of the Yellow Pages
revealed 12 Chinese restaurants in the
area as well as four Japanese, two
Korean, and one Thai. The latest entry.
into this burgeoning market is Middle
Kingdom, located at the site formerly
occupied by the Central Cafe on Main
Street at William.
Although appearing nearly un-
changed from the outside, the interior Middle Kingdom: Wok's cooking?
has been much improved. It's small but
very comfortable with two- and four- this very hot hot pepper sauce which is pea pods - all generous portions. Ti
person booths along the walls and round supplied to each table. I was disappoin- vegetables were prepared in the class
tables in the middle, wood parquet ted by the sizzling part - the rice Chinese style - crunchy but done. O
ceiling squares, soft white walls, lots of looked and tasted suspiciously like Rice person thought that it could have be(
light colored wood, one large multi- Krispies. The three flavors were heavier on the oyster sauce. Howeve
paned chandelier above the center of chicken, shrimp, and beef. This was this is from someone who buys it in fiv
the room and several smaller ones on complimented by scallions, black pound tins. This was the preferred di
the walls. The chandeliers are wrought mushrooms, bean sprouts, and cab- of the evening.
iron in appearance, replete with dragon bage, all in a chicken stock darkened by A major disappointment to one din
heads, plastic jade and red tassles. One soy sauce. was that you only get one bowl of ri
of the windows is frosted and etched The hot, spicy pork was a julienne of with each main dish. "What are y
with herons. Three dimensional "pain- pork, carrots, and cabbage. Added supposed to do with all the sauce y
tings" of flowers and birds adorn the were peas and mushrooms - oddly have left over?" More is available at a
walls. "Chinese Art Deco," said one of both fresh and canned. This had only a extra charge.
my dining companions. slight spicy taste; not typically what I was reluctant to review after on
On my first visit, my friends and I you associate with Szechuan. one visit and believing somewhat in t
chose a soup, a Szechuan dish and, in all The specialty was chicken and theory that a Saturday night is a b
fairness, I felt I should have one of the vegetables in oyster sauce. This was night because of the volume o
house specialties. The soup, three- tender chicken, broccoli, carrots, baby customers, I went again. Like ti
flavor sizzling rice, was very good and corn (a personal favorite), mushrooms previous time we selected soup,
made even better by adding a little of (caps and black), water chestnuts, and Szechuan dish and another specialty.
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The hot-sour soup was quite good with
the slight appropriately hot after taste.
Baby shrimp, tofu cubes, black
mushrooms, scallions, bamboo shoots,
chicken and a.vegetable identified for
us by the waitress as tiger lily in a
chicken/soy stock as with the first
soup. This was served with what I'd call
unsalted rice Fritos.
The spicy (Szechuan) duck again was
not very hot and like the pork dish the
duck, the carrots, scallions, bamboo
shoots, black mushrooms, and peas
were julienned. This was served on a
bed of crispy white chow mein-like
As was the case the first night, the
specialty was the best part of the meal
- this time, chicken and scallops on a
Phoenix nest. The nest is made of taro
root, which tastes similar to raw potato
and is deep fried. This was filled with
tender chicken, plump scallops as well
as broccoli, pea pods, carrots,
mushrooms (caps and black), baby
corn, and water chestnuts.
For afters there were the usual for-
tune cookie and quite tasty almond
cookies. Other appropriate desserts are
available and each meal is served with
The service was very good and atten-
tive - water glasses weren't long em-
pty. Middle Kingdom is open seven
days a week and reservations are taken
for four or more. It was a good thing we
had them Saturday night as it was
crowded both when we arrived and
when we left.
The price range relative to similar
places in the area is a bit more expen-
sive. The menu is quite varied, offering
Mandarin, Cantonese, and Szechuan
dishes of vegetables, beef, pork, poultry
(chicken and duck), and a variety of
seafood. Carry-out is also available.
Better Szechuan can be had in town
(Szechuan West) but I highly recom-
mend the Middle Kingdom specialties.
16 Weekend/Friday, March 9, 1984