Over the last year or so, I've come to love Pad Thai. I do realize that Thai food is not the same as Chinese food. But, once I developed a love for the fresh, full flavor of Thai food, it pretty much made Chinese food seem a little ho-hum. We have several Chinese restaurants here in Effingham County, Georgia and I've tried them all. There's a fairly large buffet-style restaurant in Rincon that is always busy, folks packing in to load their plates with fried rice and coconut shrimp. And, my kids are among them, sucking up their lo mein and gnawing on chicken wings. But, I couldn't help but look around me at the seemingly happy diners and wonder, "Why can't I feel the love?"
The very first Chinese restaurant to open in our county was China Delight, a small little place tucked away in a strip mall that was, at one point, anchored by Wal-mart. It did a fair amount of business being the only Chinese restaurant and all until Wal-mart relocated and the buffet giant moved in. And, to my shame, I, too, abandoned China Delight. After all, bigger is better, right? I would pass by and wonder how the place could still be there after so many years.
A couple of years ago, the shopping center was remodeled and life was breathed back into the shops that had hung on for dear life. A few months ago, disappointed by the buffet giant and yearning for some decent Chinese food, I decided to venture in to China Delight.
I can't say when it happened, but the restaurant has been beautifully remodeled and a new family greeted me at the door with what can only be described as Southern hospitality. I felt like I had entered their home. The hostess guided us to the buffet and pointed out food we might enjoy, describing each dish. Since it was barely 11:00 a.m., they were still working on filling up the pans on the buffet. But, with every dish that came out, the hostess would alert us to its arrival and encourage us to try it. And, I did try it and I liked it...a lot. No, liked isn't strong enough. I loved it!
Every dish tasted fresh and unique. The kids and I started with steaming bowls of won ton soup. It was well-seasoned and delicious. I'm a major fan of Mei Fun noodles, angel hair-like rice noodles, and there they were nestled in one of the pans. I am so happy to see you, Mei Fun! The kids found their favorites: lo mein, chicken wings, and sweet and sour chicken (without the sweet and sour sauce). And, while the buffet did have the traditional dishes of pepper steak, sesame chicken, chicken and broccoli, General Tsao's chicken, and coconut shrimp, there were more unique dishes such as lobster rolls and, my new favorite, peanut butter chicken.
While the food is excellent, it is the restaurant's warm and friendly atmosphere that has impressed me the most. The staff seems so happy to have you there and so willing to share their dishes. Just today, I sat there feeling full from their wonderful food, watching my son slurp down his dessert of cherry jell-o, when out from the kitchen doors came the hostess carrying a pan which contained Chinese seafood pizza. She insisted I try it before I left. And, you know I did.
China Delight is located in Fort Howard Square, Hwy. 21, Rincon, GA.