Last chance for Chinese: Two long timers closing

Farewell, Golden House. Photo by Julie Mah.

Farewell, Golden House. Photo by Julie Mah.

Fans of Chinese food in Wichita are running out of time to eat at two old favorites.

Golden House, a carryout Chinese spot at 504 S. Broadway that’s long been a favorite of downtown workers (including many at the Wichita Eagle) is closing at the end of the day on Saturday. It’s been in business for 16 years, but the owners are retiring and moving to Atlanta. A Sonic will open on the property by the end of the year.

Also, Yen Ching — which was my favorite Chinese restaurant when I first moved to Wichita — also is closing after 30 years at 430 N. Rock Road. The lease is up on the space, and the landlord has decided to give it to Qdoba Mexican Grill. Owners aren’t exactly sure when the restaurant’s last day will be and say it depends on how quickly the stock runs out. It’ll at least be open through Sunday, Mother’s Day, but will close sometime between Monday and May 18.

The closings bring to mind a question someone recently asked me. Where should Wichitans go these days if they want a nice, sit-down Chinese meal and don’t want a chain like Pei Wei?

That’s a hard one to answer. Kwan Court is gone, and Yen Ching soon will be, too. That leaves Wichita with mostly fast-Chinese places such as Great Wall or an array of super buffet restaurants.

My picks are Oh Yeah! China Bistro at 3101 N. Rock Road, which has a nice interior and good food. I also like the retro feel of both Lee’s at 6215 W. Kellogg and Ming’s at 1625 S. Seneca, and the food is decent at both.

Where do you go for sit-down Chinese food?

Even better than a BB gun

LOOK WHAT I FOUND AT WALGREENS!!! LOOK!!! LOOK!!!!!!!!!!

Those who know me know that I judge all Chinese restaurants against the Chop Suey Palace, the restaurant visited by the family in the movie “A Christmas Story” after neighborhood dogs devour their Christmas turkey.

I love that scene in the movie because it captures a feeling I’ve always loved: Being in a restaurant with your best friends or closest family members, laughing and eating good food. If you have the place to yourself, all the better.

Any Christmas that I have the opportunity, I always cajole my family into going to an Asian restaurant with me as part of my endless quest to create that Chop Suey Palace feeling.

It's a pretty good recreation, in my opinion.

So I’m sure you can imagine the squeal I let out in Walgreens on Saturday when I stumbled across the gem you see above. It was only $12.99. It’s now displayed in my kitchen, set on a timer, and admired every few minutes.

For the record, my honorary Chop Suey Palace awards in Wichita go to Ming’s at 1625 S. Seneca and Lee’s at 6215 W. Kellogg. My annual list of restaurants open on Christmas, which always includes lots of Chinese options, is set to be published on Friday, Dec. 23.

‘All is right with the world’

chopsueypalaceThe movie “A Christmas Story” has so many fabulous scenes, from the frozen tongue-on- a-pole to the arrival of the cherished and very “fra-gee-lay” leg lamp.
But as a food fan, my favorite scene is at the end of the movie, when the family — whose much anticipated Christmas turkey has been devoured by dogs — has its holiday meal at the local Chop Suey Palace.

Serenaded by the staff in broken English, they laugh, snort and dine on roast duck — squealing when the manager whacks off its head.

“That Christmas will live in our memories as the Christmas we were introduced to Chinese turkey,” the narrator says. “All was right with the world.”

That scene has always made me want to go to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day, and a few years ago, I made it happen.

To accommodate various schedules, my family had agreed to celebrate Christmas at my house on Dec. 26, which meant that on Dec. 25, we had no dinner plans.

A big group of us giddily caravanned to Lee’s, a Chop Suey Palace-esque restaurant at 6215 W. Kellogg.

It wasn’t just any Chinese restaurant meal we enjoyed that night. The cashew chicken tasted special, and all the diners in the restaurant felt like they were part of an exclusive Christmas club. The people at the next table laughed and sang along when we broke into a version of “Deck the Halls” inspired by that scene in “A Christmas Story.”

Schedules are such again this year that it looks like the Neil clan will be able to make another visit to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas Day.
All is right with the world.

Follow this link for a reminder of some of the restaurants open and serving on Christmas Day. (They’re not all Chinese.)