There’s so much about South Jersey to love regarding food and restaurants. But there is one area where I still look longingly towards North Jersey – Chinese restaurants. It’s not that we don’t have lots of them here; we do. What I long for are the Chinese restaurants that go beyond the all-too-familiar strip mall take out prattle. On a normal day, when the need to eat overtakes the desire to cook, some chicken and broccoli and pork fried rice does the trick. When I desire something a bit more special, such as celebrating Chinese New Year with a feast, the options are not so available. There are a few places scattered around, though, and so here’s some ideas for you if you’re looking to ring in the new year…again…Chinese-style:
The Mandarin Group of restaurants, which has locations in Gloucester and Cape May counties, will be once again having a special Chinese New Year feast. They will be offering a special nine-course meal on January 28 and 29 from 1PM to 9PM. You can find a Mandarin Group restaurant in Marmora, Glassboro, Mullica Hill, Sewell, Deptford and Logan Township.
If you want to narrow down your search as far as where to find good Chinese eateries, you can get it down to essentially two: the Cherry Hill area and the Atlantic City area.
In Cherry Hill, you have Hong Kong Fusion on Route 70 in the Tuscany Marketplace shopping center, which is still getting pretty good reviews (although I have seen a few bad ones pop up as well, just to be fair). There is also a relatively new place that opened on Kings Highway called Sang Kee Noodle House. Sang Kee is based in Philadelphia and comes over the river with a good reputation. Both Hong Kong Fusion and Sang Kee serve juicy buns, which is a rare treat to find in South Jersey.
A little further out from Cherry Hill, you have the tried and true Joe’s Peking Duck House in Marlton, Chez Elena Wu in Voorhees, and a another new place called Jade Spice in Mount Laurel. Jade Spice allows the diners to watch the homemade noodles getting prepared, which is an art in itself.
Heading down the Expressway to Atlantic City, here are three suggestions for you. The casinos have, over the years, been catering more and more to a growing Asian clientele. You can see this in the fact that almost every casino has some sort of noodle bar now. Speaking of now, you can give N.O.W. (Noodles of the World) at Borgata a try. Away from the casinos, one place that seems to have a solid reputation is Imperial Inn on Atlantic Avenue. It’s a little ways past the boardwalk, but there are treasures to be found if you take the chance and get away from the casinos. Mind you, we like the casinos, too.
A third option is located in Pleasantville, just down the road. Asian City Restaurant (formerly known as Joy Luck Palace) is located at the Pleasantville Shopping Center on the Black Horse Pike. Reviews since the switch over from Joy Luck Palace are, to be fair, mixed. Having said that, they do look to be offering more than standard fare, and they do offer dim sum.
So go out there and explore! And if you find a hidden Chinese treasure, don’t be stingy and share with the rest of us!
Gong Xi Fa Chai!