Amidst the ever changing intersection of Rock and Central sits Yen Ching, one of Wichita’s older Chinese restaurants. The building certainly sticks out with its decorative green pagodaesque awnings and some strange stone bridge in front of the entrance. Inside, the classic Chinese restaurant motif continues with various statues, paintings, and furniture.
I doubt the interior here has been updated since 1990 and for evidence of this I submit the vintage cigarette machine that is proudly displayed in the dining room. Although devoid of smokes, it is a reminder of the good old days when anyone could buy cigarettes from a machine. Yen Ching’s dining layout is just as unique as the interior design. The main dining area consists of about 10 tables, but there is also a balcony type level with additional seating.
We went to Yen Ching during the noon hour and were presented with the abbreviated lunch menu. It consisted of about 15 of your typical Chinese dishes and a few appetizers. All of the lunch dishes come with egg drop soup, a salad, fried rice, and a crab rangoon. I decided to try the Shrimp Chow Mein, while Steph ordered the special of the day, which was a combination plate of Sweet and Sour Pork and Chicken Chow Mein. The egg drop soup and salad appeared quickly after we put in our order, but neither of us were impressed with the first course. The egg drop was ok, but it is tough to enjoy soup on a 100 degree day. The salad was basically just some lettuce with an average ginger sesame dressing. We liked our appetizer order of eggs rolls better than the soup and salad, but they tasted a bit bland.
Our main courses were much more enjoyable. Both dished contained generous servings of the main entrée as well as fried rice and a crab rangoon. I was very happy with the Shrimp Chow Mein dish. It had plenty of well cooked and fresh tasting shrimp, a good variety of stir fried veggies, a savory sauce, and wonton chips. Although I would have liked more pieces of broccoli, the wonton chips made up for that shortcoming. They provided an extra crunch and were a unique addition to the dish. The Sweet and Sour Pork was a hit with both of us. Besides the fried bits of pork, slices of pineapple and veggies were mixed in the dish. The Chicken Chow Mein was just as good as the shrimp, although if you are not a fan of dark meat, like Steph, you may want to steer clear of it. Last but not least, the crab rangoon. Unlike most rangoon, they were not overly sweet, but very creamy and rich. I could have easily eaten several more of them.