I’d like to think that here in Small-Town, USA we have a Zagat’s Rating guide just for Provo that rates all the fabulous restaurants. Alas, if you do a search for “Provo” only two restaurants come up. Pathetic. So I’d like you to humor me and consider this blog entry my very own restaurant review. It may be a bit unorthodox, but here goes.
300 S. 700 E.
Provo, UT 84604
We discovered this restaurant about a year and half ago. We had been in mourning for some time for the closing of our other beloved Mandarin restaurant—Taiwan Café—but felt it was time to move on and find a new love. Red Lantern in Orem made me puke—literally. And Panda Express is for people who also love McDonalds and TGI Fridays. Chinatown Restaurant is a pretty dang good substitute for Taiwan Cafe. Aside from the delicious food served there are many things about this quirky establishment that humor me each time I go.
Décor: All four walls of this dining establishment are paneled with very rustic splintery, knotty paneling. It seriously looks like they have a termite problem. I don’t know about you but the first thing I think about when I think of Chinese food is really bad wood paneled walls. I asked the owner once about the walls. She mentioned that the building used to be a steak house. 20 years ago. “Oh, that explains it”, is all I could say. But that doesn’t explain it. They’ve had 20 years to update the walls. Do you see what I mean by quirky? That must be how prices are kept low.
Music: Each time we go to Chinatown Restaurant we eagerly await to hear what goofball music they are playing this time. The first time we went it was something akin to the William Tell Overture. It wasn’t that, but close. It was really fast classical music that is played during movies when someone has just fallen off of a cliff. Simply not good for digestion. And it was loud. I thought maybe we were on Candid Camera or something because it was simply that humorous. I can’t believe I didn’t complain to them about the music. Tonight when we went it was really bad instrumental themes of really bad movies—Evita, Titanic, Pocahontas, etc. Paul and I would try to guess each song. The only theme we could come up with was that all of these movies sucked.
No Crowds: Tonight we were the only ones eating there. Granted, it was 5:05pm, but still. This made for a pleasant dinner because the service was faster than usual and because we could listen in on the Chinese conversation of the owners’ family at a nearby table. There were 4 of them and it seemed like very interesting conversation. Of course I had no idea what they were saying but it must have been about politics or maybe family gossip. It sounded like one of the two. Each word was enunciated and they made no effort to keep their voices down even though there were customers (just us) eating at the time. I like that. I like that we carry no airs about us so that others feel free being themselves in our presence. Or maybe it was the fact that Hallie wouldn’t stay in her high chair and was screaming and they really wanted us to leave. Nah.
Booths: If you do go, make sure you sit in the booths by the window. Those booths offer an extra bonus. When huge semi-trucks are at the stop light on 7th East your table vibrates as do your innards. Kind of fun in a weird sort of way.
Food suggestions: Wor Wonton soup and Hot and Sour soup. You’ll also love the Orange Beef (filled with lots of strings of orange zest), Pork Fried Rice, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and Chicken with Snow Peas.
Please patronize this restaurant. I don’t see why anyone would go to P.F. Changs, which is over-priced and over-Americanized, when they could have way better food cheaper and the privilege of eating in a log-cabin type building where weirdo music is played and you can actually hear Chinese being spoken. Love it.