Where to get “Chinese” when you can’t get typical Chinese
With most traditional Chinese restaurants closed, Ichiban and others offer Asian fare to get your fix
Although it may seem like a tough time to be a restaurant critic – with restaurants largely closed and all – I’ve never been busier on the food front.
Now, perhaps more than ever, people are clamoring for information on what restaurants are open and closed from week to week, who’s doing the best takeout, who’s still delivering and who’s taking a break until things clear up.
And while I’m not surprised to be fielding so many calls, emails and social messages each week, I have been shocked that the overwhelming majority of them have all been asking the same question.
Where can I get Chinese takeout?
Seeing as how most Chinese restaurants already rely on takeout for a majority of their business, I figured they’d be among the first and easiest to adapt to COVID-19’s current “carryout or delivery only” environment.
But apparently most Chinese restaurants closed up shop immediately, even abandoning their ubiquitous takeout service.
Since so many of you are still posing this question daily, though, I thought I’d compile this handy list of both traditional and non-traditional Chinese restaurants where you can still get your Chinese takeout fix.
THE RICE BOWL
The only traditional Chinese restaurant I’ve been able to confirm is still open in the Valley, The Rice Bowl in Cross Lanes has expanded its already loyal following to attract customers from surrounding cities whose local favorite takeout joints have closed.
Folks have praised this place for years, but the love is especially high now since they’re pretty much the only traditional Chinese spot still open and seem to be doing a stand-up job with food, service and safety precautions.
The Rice Bowl has temporarily closed on Mondays during this crisis, but offers its full menu of Chinese favorites for both lunch and dinner every other day of the week.
For more information: The Rice Bowl is located at 121 Goff Mountain Rd. in Cross Lanes. For more information, call 304-776-6888 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Already known for the best sushi and pan-Asian food around, Ichiban has been rocking lunch and dinner takeout with a limited menu that still offers many of the downtown Charleston restaurant’s signature dishes.
The sushi, the seafood, the noodles, the beef! I mean, seriously, my love for this place knows no bounds.
But if you do need to scratch a particular Chinese itch, there are a few delicious dishes that can fill that need.
You can start with spicy ginger chicken eggrolls, sweet chili vegetarian eggrolls or crispy beef Laotian eggrolls served with noodles and mixed veggies. Next try tangy salmon teriyaki on asparagus, grilled chicken teriyaki, savory sesame chicken with broccoli and garlic, or bamboo tempura chicken with bamboo shoots, peppers and onions glazed in General Tso’s sauce with fresh cilantro.
Or just go for two of my favorites: the chicken, beef or shrimp Singapore rice noodles with veggies in a mild or spicy curry sauce and the stir-fried Mongolian beef with sautéed bok choy, mixed vegetables and sesame seeds bathed in a rich Asian sauce with only one occasional fault. It’s often far too salty, so ask them to go easy and maybe give you the rest on the side.
For more information: Ichiban is located at 103 Capitol St. in downtown Charleston. For more information, call 304-720-7874 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
KITA MODERN JAPANESE
Open only a few weeks before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, Kita Modern Japanese at Southridge was serving up some of the most exciting, imaginative and delicious food of any new restaurant in the Valley in some time. (Check out my previous review!)
They still are, via takeout, and have a few Chinese-inspired options that should bring a smile to your face.
Although the menu is largely Japanese, Chinese fans might like the crab and cream cheese-stuffed wontons, crab fried rice, teriyaki skewers or brisket spring rolls.
For more information: Kita Modern Japanese is located at 2815 Mountaineer Blvd. at Southridge, across from Panera Bread. For more information, call 304-205-5200 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
KOBE ASIAN FUSION
Across the Valley in Kanawha City, Kobe Modern Fusion recently overcame a rocky start to start serving more consistent Asian specialties in the same building that used to house the amazing Su-Tei.
Although the full restaurant menu is offered for takeout and delivery, specific Chinese options include popular General Tso’s, Sesame, Mango Crispy and Crispy Pineapple Chicken dishes, all served with broccoli, carrots and your choice of steamed rice, fried rice or lo-mein noodles.
For more information: Kobe Asian Fusion is located at 5711 MacCorkle Ave. SE in Kanawha City, outside of the former Kanawha Mall. For more information, call 304-925-7562 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
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I’m sure there are other places, too, so what am I missing?
Please let me know your favorite Chinese restaurants or dishes that are currently available and I’ll share that info with the masses still craving it.
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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.