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Friday, February 02, 2007


China Garden: One of the Best Chinese Restaurants in the Valley

China Garden has been in business for less than a year in Darboy at W6141 Country Road KK (Calumet Street) just a couple blocks east of Wal-Mart (W6141 County Road KK, by the Tanglz Salon. I've been there twice now and find it to be surprisingly good, inexpensive, with a friendly and entertaining atmosphere, thanks to the charming personality of the owner. I dare say that it's my favorite Chinese restaurant, though there are some fine ones in the Valley.

It's a small restaurant that seems to do most of its business as take out, so it probably won't be crowded when you go - and that means the charming owner will be able to visit with you. He is more native Appletonian than I am, since he came here at age 9, but he went back to Hong Kong for several years of education and has a rich Chinese heritage that he shares at China Garden.

During my family's visits to China Garden, we've been wowed by several dishes. Tonight we tried Wor Shu Duck, a crispy duck dish which, like Peking Duck, has a delicious skin. This was one of the best duck dishes I've had, coupled with excellent sauteed vegetables in a flavorful sauce. More duck than I expected. It's one of the more expensive items on the menu at just $10.50. More than one person can eat, I think.

I was especially impressed with a vegetarian dish, the Home Style Bean Cake, which had fried tofu in a delicious sauce with sauteed vegetables. I was pleased with the flavors and surprised to see so much of this excellent food for just $5.95. We also tried Beef with Chinese Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots ($8.65) and Triple in Garlic Sauce (jumbo shrimp, beef, and chicken with vegetables, $9.85). All very pleasing with a variety of flavors. The four dishes were more than four of us could eat, including two teenage boys. I think we could have fed five or six people with the four dishes we ordered.

Previously we were extremely impressed with the Chef's special called Happy Family, a combination of lobster, shrimp, scallops, chicken, pork, and vegetables. It's tied for the most expensive dish on the menu, at a mere $11.75.

The hot and sour soup was excellent.

The rich menu of China Garden emphasizes Szechuan, Hunan, and Cantonese dishes. Like most Chinese restaurants in the Valley and in the US, this one offers foods adapted for American pallets and employing readily available ingredients like carrots and broccoli that might not play such a prominent role in restaurants seeking to provide exotic, authentic encounters with the foods of the Orient. And that's just what you need when you're taking your family out to dinner - especially on a budget.

China Garden is open seven days a week and offers free delivery (minimum order $18). MasterCard and Visa accepted. Open for lunch, with 32 different $4.95 lunch specials. Hours: 10:30 am - 9:30 pm Monday to Saturday, and noon to 9:30 pm Sunday.

I believe no MSG is used.

Call (920) 380-0058. Fax: (920) 380-0079. Be sure to say the tall guy with the family of four sent you.


China Garden is one of the least impressive Chinese places I've dined at in the area, in my opinion. The new China Gate in Kimberly is a good alternative, but there's so many better places in the Valley.
I'll admit that part of what I like about it is the hospitality provided by the owner - but they do offer some great food as well.
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