By Ken and Angie Locke
We knew that Cheney was the plan, and Chinese food was on the bill, but we had no idea that the food at China’s Bar and Grill would transport us right to the shadow of the Great Wall of China.
China’s Bar and Grill, owned and cared for by Mary Beal, is open Tuesday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Call them at 316-540-6013 for takeout orders or any other questions you may have.
Located at 127 N. Main Street in Cheney, the restaurant features a lunch buffet of at least 30 dishes served Tuesday through Saturday, with a Sunday buffet that has extras.
It took us two trips to China’s to give the menu its due, and we’ve still committed ourselves to going back and trying the entire sandwich line, along with dozens of untried Chinese specialties.
What we loved most, and what you might expect, is that when we asked Mary and Kiki to bring us whatever they loved the best, they kept bringing stuff! We started with chicken tenders with ranch dipping sauce as an appetizer, closely followed by fried cheese wontons (also known as crab Rangoon). Of course, fullness was not an option because the kitchen was just getting warmed up.
Mary asked us several questions before she chose our entrees for us – at our request. Angie got sesame chicken, with sweet Chinese rice that, believe it or not, is a secret recipe! Mary smiled when she said it, but wouldn’t tell us the secret ingredient. The sweetness of the rice perfectly complemented the sesame, ginger, and orange in the sauce. I asked for General Tso with pork – Mary could tell I wasn’t a big seafood fan so she moved on to safer choices. I asked her to make it hot, as in, HOT, which her cook did – the kind of hot that makes a guy’s face sweat right underneath his eyes.
She even brought a side dish of chili pepper and oil, just in case I needed more fire. I didn’t. Fresh steamed broccoli accompanied both of our dishes and balanced our dinner nicely. Drink all the pop you want – she’ll only charge you once.
The entire restaurant is family friendly with the bar and the smoking area in the rear, separated by an arched doorway. The bar was a popular place on the Wednesday night we went out, and the front, smoke-free section kept up a brisk business as well. The young mother with her three little girls was just as comfortable as the party of seven right next to us having a family reunion of sorts. Whether you are in a hurry or want to sit and linger, China’s is an ideal place to do either one.
China’s offers a full sandwich and burger menu, and the sandwiches are made fresh from the same recipes as the Artichoke bar in downtown Wichita. Five bread choices and six side dish choices are part of a sandwich order. In addition to the buffet for lunch, China’s offers 17 specials specifically designed for a lunch crowd with limited time to eat.
Karaoke is a big part of the Friday and Saturday night draw. Mary waits for most of the dinner patrons and families to finish eating before she starts the Karaoke machine around 10 p.m. China’s is open until 2 a.m. both nights (or mornings, really) so if you can’t get enough singing in by then, you’d better audition for American Idol. Dancing breaks out spontaneously during these Karaoke-fests, so wear some comfortable shoes, too.
Mary emphatically told us she never serves ‘old food,’ and always makes fresh food for each day’s patrons. She always checks on her customers, and isn’t happy until she not only hears that customers are happy, but can see satisfaction on their faces for herself. She admits she is up until 3 or 4 a.m. far too often taking care of restaurant stuff, but refuses to compromise her standards of excellence. We could tell, and believe me – it was, is and always will be worth it to spend a lot of time and a tiny bit of money visiting China’s Bar and Grill.