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Ming’s Cantonese Restaurant

17 Apr

The south side of Wichita often gets overlooked when it comes to decent dining options, but the truth is there are a number a small establishments that can hold their own against any place in town.  Ming’s Cantonese Restaurant, located on Seneca between Harry and Pawnee, is one such example. This well established Chinese restaurant has a devoted following and the food to back it up.

The first thing you notice about Ming’s is the outstanding 50s-Vegas-style yellow sign that grabs passerby’s attention as they roll down Seneca looking for sustenance. Inside you will find a pretty classic American Chinese design motif, complete with the Chinese Zodiac calendar place mats that are always good for explaining why your relationships don’t work out. Clearly you should have married that Ox you dated for 5 years. The dining room has plenty of seating both for small and large groups.

Top Notch Lo Mein with Foil Chicken

Top Notch Lo Mein with Foil Chicken

The menu at Mings is extensive, but not overwhelming. Every American Chinese stir fry dish that you have come to love is offered, including several varieties of Lo Mein, Chow Mein, Egg Foo Young, Sweet and Sour(insert desired protein), and Kung Pao. Most dishes are also offered on a lunch menu and there are family style options as well.

After some extensive internet research, I decided to go with the Chicken Lo Mein. This was a big leap of faith for me because typically I am not a big Lo Mein fan. I find most versions to be fairly unsexy with their lack of flavor and veggies. The lunch version comes with fried rice and a choice of appetizer, so I went with the intriguing ‘foil chicken’, hoping that I hadn’t just ordered something that contained shards of aluminum. The Honey Glazed Shrimp caught Steph’s attention mainly because she was hoping it would be similar to Kwan Court’s famous Honey Walnut Shrimp that we both still pine for. She chose crab rangoon for her appetizer.

Honey Shrimp

Honey Shrimp

Once our food arrived I was happy to see that the foil chicken was actually just white meat chicken pieces wrapped in foil packets. There was a teriyaki-style sauce on the chicken that made it tasty. For a lunch serving, there were ample portions of fried rice and Lo Mein on my plate. The fried rice was certainly freshly made, but overall I thought it was just average in taste. The Lo Mein on the other hand was very good, mainly because of the noodles. Typically the rice noodles used for Lo Mein are sticky and overcooked, but the Ming’s variety were cooked to slightly chewy al dentesque perfection. The brown sauce was a savory shot of MSG that proved to be much better than at other restaurants. There was a good amount of chicken pieces, however I would have liked a little more veggie action. The Honey Glazed Shrimp will not win an award for presentation as the thick glaze sat awkwardly upon the bed of fried shrimp, but taste wise it was excellent. After mixing the glaze together with the shrimp and rice we were left with a sweet and delicious combination that faintly resembled our Kwan Court memories. The crab rangoon were an unexpected delight as well. Instead of being overly sweet and laden with cream cheese, these were savory with more crab(probably imitation) flavor.

Ming’s proved to be a solid south side restaurant that is certainly worth the drive if you don’t live in the area. Their fast and friendly service along with ample menu options makes it one of the better Americanized Chinese joints in town.

Ming's Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon






Emperor’s Japanese Grill

21 Nov

When it comes to Americanized Japanese/Asian food Emperor’s Japanese Grill has it covered. Their three locations offer quick, made to order dishes that can be enjoyed by dining in or carrying out.  We visited the east side location at Central and Greenwich for lunch. The other two locations are out on the west side.

Hibachi with Calamari

Hibachi with Calamari

The menu at Emperor’s is not just relegated to Japanese style dishes, in fact most of the options are more Chineseque in my opinion. The main features of the menu are the teriyaki and Hibachi stir fry dishes. You can choose your meat or seafood and most meals come with a drink and fried rice. There is also Lo Mein, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice options, broccoli stir fry, egg rolls, and crab rangoon. The prices and quantity of food are reasonable with meals ranging from $5 to $14. It appeared from watching the open cooking area that each dish is prepared to order on their large flat top grill.

On our visit we ordered the Hibachi grill with calamari, the Chef’s Special stir fry with shrimp, and a couple of crab rangoon. We noticed a small fridge located next to the counter that contained small plastic tubs of several different sauces. We grabbed a ginger, sweet and sour, and spicy mustard  just in case our food needed some help.

The crab rangoon were fresh, tasty, and stacked up well with other versions in town. The sweet and sour sauce was very good and added the right amount of sweetness and heat. We were less impressed with the Hibachi with calamari. While the veggies and calamari were cooked properly, the sauce was weak and the dish was bland. Luckily the garlic and spicy mustard sauces we had procured earlier amped up the food. The fried rice that came with the stir fry was fine, but nothing spectacular. The Chef’s Special was much better, although the shrimp were few and far between. The slightly sour sauce went nicely with the stir fried cabbage and carrots.

Chefs Special with Shrimp

Chefs Special with Shrimp

While we were not blown away by Emperor’s offerings, their made to order menu is certainly better than something that has been sitting in a warning tray for hours. If you are in a hurry and need an Asian fix, this is a suitable option.

Emperor's Japanese Grill East on Urbanspoon11330 E Central Ave
Wichita, KS 67206

Oh Yeah! China Bistro

18 Nov

When most people think of  the Americanized version of Chinese food, visions of buffets and those little white cardboard boxes come to mind. Fortunately there are many restaurants in Wichita where diners can enjoy fresh made American Chinese food that has not been sitting for an extended period of time at the Dillons Chinese Kitchen(although they do have damn good crab rangoon). Oh Yeah! China Bistro, located just north of 29th and Rock, is one such restaurant.

Up Close and Personal With Some Delicious Pork Dumplings

Up Close and Personal With Some Delicious Pork Dumplings

At the risk of sounding blasphemous Oh Yeah! reminded me of the late great Kwan Court, at least from an ambiance prospective. The interior is certainly more upscale than most Chinese restaurants in town and there is plenty of seating. Much to our son’s delight they already had their Christmas tree up and a big laughing buddha statue.

Calling themselves a Chinese Bistro is somewhat misleading because the menu is a greatest hits of Asian cuisine. Besides a comprehensive list of Chinese dishes there are Korean, Thai, and Japanese items. If you want Panang Curry and your dining partner wants Udon noodles you are in luck. The menu is also very accommodating for vegetarians as many of the dishes can be ordered without meat or with a tofu substitute. In addition to the food options, Oh Yeah offers a plethora of fresh juices and teas. Most main dishes range from $8-$15 making Oh Yeah on the pricier side of most Asian places in town.

Honey Shrimp

Honey Shrimp

On our visit we started off with an order of pan fried pork dumplings and for our main dishes I had the Egg Foo Young and Steph went with the Honey Shrimp. The pan fried dumplings were an excellent way to start the meal. The outside was slightly crispy, while the rest of the dumpling was very tender. The filling of pork and mushrooms was good and a soy and ginger dipping sauce added additional flavors to the dish. The honey shrimp dish came with an ample amount of shrimp and just a few broccoli florets. While the honey sauce was tasty, the shrimp were breaded too

Egg Foo Young: Delicious Chinese Omelet

Egg Foo Young: Delicious Chinese Omelet

heavily for our liking. We were hoping that it would be more tempura style, similar to a dish at the old Kwan Court. My order of Egg Foo Young tasted as good as it looked. The base was a large omelet that was piled high with stir fried beef, chicken, shrimp, and veggies. The sauce was on the sweet side, but had a nice touch of spiciness to it as well. It’s not too often that I can’t finish my meal, but this large portion left me asking for a to go box.

While we thought that Oh Yeah! was a bit overpriced, for the most part the food was good. If you want to enjoy Asian food in a more upscale environment with a bottle of wine perhaps Oh Yeah! is worth trying out.

Oh Yeah China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Little Saigon

30 Apr

As I have said before you really can’t go wrong when dining on North Broadway, unless of course you suffer a momentary lapse of reason and wind up in the Spangles drive-thru. Little Saigon is a newer addition to the street and is located just down the block from the venerable grandaddy of Vietnamese restaurants, Saigon.

The owners of Little Saigon have done a nice job of updating the interior with plenty of seating and a clean dining room. Unlike several of the Vietnamese restaurants in town, Little Saigon features a full service bar with daily specials.

Doughy Pork Goodness

Doughy Pork Goodness

The menu covers all the essential dishes expected at Vietnamese restaurants including several varieties of Pho, noodle dishes, and rice bowls. There are also some Chinese and Korean dishes as well as exotic smoothie flavors. On our visit one of the daily specials were steamed pork dumplings and being a person that finds it hard to pass up any pork containing food, we ordered some. For our main course I went with a Banh Mi sandwich and Steph ordered a noodle bowl with shrimp.

The pork dumplings were a doughy treat. Served with a sweet dipping sauce, they were quickly consumed. My Banh Mi was filled with thinly

The Banh Mi

The Banh Mi

sliced pork, cucumbers, cilantro and julienned carrot and was served on a generous half loaf of French bread. The meat was tender and well seasoned, while the veggies were crisp and fresh. My only complaint  was it seemed there could have been more sandwich fillings to compete with the thick loaf of bread. The noodle bowl was filled with thin rice noodles, stir fried veggies, and shrimp with crushed peanuts and a sweet and savory sauce topping it all off. The dish was simple yet satisfying, which is something that the Vietnamese cuisine excels at.

Noodle Bowl with Shrimp

Noodle Bowl with Shrimp

Little Saigon is a solid and acceptable addition to the North Broadway dining scene. Since they are open seven days a week you can get your Vietnamese fix any time.

Little Saigon on Urbanspoon

Chiang Mai

22 Feb

Previously published in the Wichita Eagle:

Chiang Mai has flown under my restaurant radar for quite some time, but finally at the behest of a trusted friend, we headed down south to Hillside and 31st Street to see what it was all about. Judging by the bars on the windows, which in my experience is a good indicator of food quality, I expected a good meal. Inside we were unexpectedly greeted by a spacious and tidy dining room with pleasing hues of purple paint adorning the walls.

Duck Curry: Better than Whiskey on a Cold Day

Duck Curry: Better than Whiskey on a Cold Day

While Chiang Mai is primarily a Thai restaurant, their lunch menu (11am-3pm) encompasses highlights from several Asian countries including Vietnam and China. All lunch specials come with your choice of salad, soup or egg roll, plus dessert. One of my favorite cold weather dishes is Thai curry so I ordered a spicy bowl of the roasted duck curry (Gaeng Phet Pet Yang, $6.95). My wife went with the mild version of Mussman curry ($6.50). For our appetizers I had the soup, while my wife tried the egg roll.

Hearty Potato and Chicken Curry

Hearty Potato and Chicken Curry

The clear broth soup was simple, but satisfying. It consisted of sliced green onions, small rice noodles, and wonderful toasted garlic. The egg roll was small compared to some behemoths you can pick up at buffets around town, but it was fresh and enjoyable. The duck curry included bamboo shoots, cherry tomatoes, basil, and tender pieces of duck bathed in a wonderfully creamy and spicy sauce. Although I ordered it “spicy” it was not overpowering. This was some of the best curry I have had in Wichita. The Mussman curry was comprised of chicken, chunks of potato, and peanuts in another very good curry sauce. For dessert we each got a freshly fried round doughnut that was most excellent.

Baby Approved Doughnut

Baby Approved Doughnut

The service at Chiang Mai was superb. Our waitresses were very friendly and took an immediate liking to our 10 month old son. He had a fried doughnut in front of him before we even had drinks at our table. If you are in a hurry, ordering online from their website is an option.
Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Fusa/Red 8 Chinese/Chill Gelato(Sushi and Gelato Under One Roof)

9 Apr

Lured in by a coupon offering free gelato with the purchase of a meal we tried the 3 in 1 eatery Fusa/Red 8 Chinese/Chill Gelato the other day. Fusa is located in a strip mall just north of Kellogg and Greenwich. Apparently its original location was in the Towne East Mall, but since I try to avoid that place at all costs, it’s new to me. The owner of Fusa is the same person who opened the iconic Kwan Court and luckily he brought back an old favorite to serve at Fusa. I speak of the honey crispy walnut shrimp, one of my all time favorite dishes.

The Famous Crispy Walnut Shrimp

Fusa is set up much like a mall food court, with several counters offering different cuisines. There is Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, sushi, pasta, burgers, and last but not least, Gelato to top it all off. If you have picky eaters in your group there should be something at Fusa that will satisfy their needs. Ordering was a no brainer for Steph and I, we went with the honey crispy walnut shrimp and the honey crispy walnut chicken. Both dishes came served atop a bed of steamed rice(fried rice available upon request), with plenty of shrimp/chicken. The honey walnut sauce, while not quite on par with the Kwan Court version, was still very good. Coupled with some decent fried shrimp and chicken it was a satisfying meal.

After finishing our lunch we walked to the back of the restaurant where the coolers of gelato( Italian ice cream) are located. Unfortunately there were many delicious flavors, so making a decision was rather difficult. I finally settled on pistachio and Steph was won over by the salted caramel. Our single serving cups were piled high with the creamy frozen treats. We were both pleased with our respective gelato, although it was not as good as Caffe Moderne’s.

A Heaping Cup of Caramel Gelato

If you are looking for a place where you can get your teriyaki chicken and quesadilla fix at the same time Fusa is a good option. Even if you’re not interested in multi-ethnic dining, the large gelato selection is worth checking out.

Chill Gelato * Fusa * Red 8 Chinese on Urbanspoon

Cafe Asia

4 Feb

Tucked away deep in the far corner of Normandie shopping center at Woodlawn and Central lies a literal hidden gem, Cafe Asia. Without much signage, it is entirely possible for one to circle the strip mall endlessly searching in vain for the Asian restaurant. I’m sure many a hunger-crazed soul has given up their search and opted for the highly visible Little Caesars. Luckily my internal GPS came through for us and we were able to enjoy the delights of Cafe Asia.

Inside you will find a small dining area that looks similar to many of the family run Asian restaurants around town. They are very proud of Malaysia as evidenced by the numerous travel posters that adorn the wall. Once seated our party was quickly served baskets of fried wontons and a delicious sweet strawberryish dipping sauce. It was a solid way to start off our meal. The menu is good sized for a small place and has something for everyone. If you are just looking for good ‘ol Chinese dishes they have those, you can get your Thai fix with some curries and Pad Thai, and they also offer Malaysian dishes.

Steph ordered a combination plate of Lo Mein with shrimp, chicken, and beef, while I opted for something called Chow Kueh Teow, which apparently is a “famous Malaysian” dish. The Chinese dishes on the menu are served with an egg roll and crab rangoon. Being a connoisseur of crab rangoon I thought Cafe Asia’s were just ok, but their egg roll was good.  When the main dishes came out, we were both greeted with a large amount of food.

How About a Big Dish of Chow Kueh Teow?

The Chow Teow was a tasty dish that consisted of wide rice noodles, sprouts, egg, and plenty of beef, chicken, and shrimp. The ingredients were coated in a brown sauce that was well seasoned, but not overpowering. The chicken and veggie Lo Mein did not disappoint either. The thick noodles were cooked perfectly with no mass of clumped up noodles that one can sometimes get when ordering Lo Mein. Once again they did not skimp on the various parts of the meal. The sauce was a bit on the bland side, but tasted much better than when Dillons drowns their Lo Mein in soy sauce.

After our experience at Cafe Asia, we decided it will become our new place for Chinese/Asian take out. So farewell Great Wall and Dillons, we will no longer need your services, except maybe when we have a crab rangoon craving. If you are in the mood for some type of Asian dish and lots of it, look no further than Cafe Asia.  If you didn’t already jump in the car immediately at the mention of fried wontons with dipping syrup then now is your time.

I attempted to take a picture of the hours of operation at Cafe Asia because it was the only way I would remember them. Unfortunately I took the picture with a phone camera, leaving much to the imagination. Here is my interpretation: Basically they are closed on Sunday and Monday, closed for lunch on Saturday and Tuesday, and then there is a break between 2:30 and 5 on the other days(Although it could be 4:30 or maybe 6pm?). During the week they close at 8pm, but on Friday and Saturday they don’t close till 9pm. Got all that? Just go around noon for lunch and around 7 for dinner and you should be ok unless of course its a leap year and then you’re out of luck.

Tell Me What the Hell This Says and Win A Prize

Cafe Asia on Urbanspoon

Ah So- Wichita KS

14 Oct

With so many Great Walls springing up every few blocks and just about every Dillons store offering a Chinese kitchen sometimes we forget about the abundance of hole-in-the-wall Chinese places around town. I recently acquainted myself with one such restaurant, Ah So. Ah So has been serving fresh, made to order Chinese food at Oliver and Lincoln for years. Although it looks like a sketchy place tucked between a laundry mat and a liquor store, I assure you there is nothing to fear. The inside is small and reminds me a lot of Mana Wok, minus all the random books and Polaroids. There are maybe 6 or 7 tables and a smiling Budda (have you ever seen a Budda thats not though?) behind the counter.

The menu has a decent selection of Chinese favorites, a couple Korean dishes, as well as “Noodle Creations”, and “Rice Creations”. On this visit I went with the almond chicken stir fry. The dish came heaped with fried rice and two mandu. Mandu are Korean dumplings, which in this case were filled with ground meat and fried. The almond chicken was very good. You could tell that it had been freshly made with vegetables and chicken that were cooked to the right doneness. The fried rice was good, certainly not overly greasy, but not quite as good as Manna Wok’s rice. There were several sauces offered on the table, so I decided to sample those as well. If you happen to have a stuffy nose I would recommend  the spicy mustard because it will clear you out in a hurry. The sweeter of the sauces went very nicely with the fried mandu.

If you are looking for good Chinese takeout, this is your place. Their cheap prices, made to order dishes, and that fact that they serve till 9 pm on most night makes this a good alternate to picking up some Lo Mein that has been sitting at Dillons for 3 hours.

Ah-So Oriental Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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