Steppin’ Out – Wonderful Chinese Restaurant, Pleasant Valley

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

I have always had good food and service at this little Chinese restaurant at the corner of Pleasant Valley and Mt. Aukum roads, across from Holiday Market.

Well, almost always since one time about five years ago they tried to make me hot tea with cold water. They were confused until they found out someone forgot to turn the kettle on.

The new owner, for the past four years, likes to be called Mei and she is a delight. She was taking all the orders and serving all the food when we were there around 1 p.m. on a Thursday.

My friend Russ Salazar, who actually arrived before me for once, is a great fan of Honey Walnut Prawns. He raves about the ones he used to drive miles to get in Sacramento, before that restaurant closed down. They are on the Lunch Specials Menu here (served from 11:30 – 3 every day except Monday, when they are closed), so that is what he ordered.

I decided to try a chicken dish and settled on Kung Pao Chicken, which is a somewhat spicy dish with lots of vegetables. I chose steamed rice, he the Pork Fried Rice. We both had hot tea.

The lunch specials also come with Egg Flower soup (except for take-out), a small green salad with vinegarette and a Cream Cheese Wonton.
The soup was very good, especially after a small dose of the hot oil you find on the table (Mei just looked at us when we did that and later, while smiling, offered us a second bowl of the hot oil for our table).

The salad was very crisp (Russ pointed that out to me before I even tried it) and a nice interlude between the soup and main dish.
As usual we split the main dishes and rice so that we could both try them.

I loved the Honey Walnut Prawns. The batter and sauce (it tasted like it had a hint of lemon) were both good and the prawns were fresh and perfectly cooked. Russ told me the batter was a bit thicker than the ones he used to love, but that they were very nicely done and very, very good.

Russ also commented on the Kung Pao Chicken, which I was really enjoying. Again, he especially liked the crispness of the vegetables. Now comes the most interesting part of the meal.

Russ bit into the Cream Cheese Wonton and said, “I don’t know what is in this, but it is delicious.” As Mei walked by the table, he asked her what was in them. “That cheese from Costco,” was her reply. Then she went into the kitchen and came back with a large package of Cream Cheese. He asked here if that is all she puts in them because they are delicious. Her reply was, “No…a family secret.”

The multi-page, take-out menu starts with Lunch Specials, which includes over two dozen Chinese favorites cooked different ways, all on order. Be sure to watch out for the little chile peppers printed to the left of the dishes. Those mean it is spicy.

Then come the Family Dinners (Happy Dinner and Wonderful Dinner) for a set price, then Combination Platters.

Next on the menu are a dozen Appetizers / Salads including a Combo Tray (flaming) for two with a mix of appetizers.

On the following page are the seven or more soups and a dozen seafood dishes, all based on prawns served a multitude of ways (I have to find out what Salted Pepper Prawns taste like. Maybe next time although it will be difficult to not go back to the Honey Walnut Prawns again).

The seven Specialities include sizzling platters, clay pot dishes and Egg Foo Young combinations along with Prawns and Lobster Sauce.

There are four categories of meat or meatless dishes, including beef, pork, chicken and vegetables. If you can’t find at least one of your favorites there, I don’t know what to tell you.

The last two categories on the menu include the different kinds of Fried Rice and Stir Fried Noodle dishes. Here you find the Chow Mein and Chow Fun dishes, along with a few house specials.

For beverages they serve soft drinks, tea, domestic and imported beer, house and premium wines and Japanese sake.

I have to add that the whole place was very clean and nicely decorated. The food was excellent, the service was outstanding and Mei was delightful and full of life.

Additionally, when I went to leave I found my car battery had died (dumb mistake on my part) and since I had no cell coverage there, Mei generously loaned me the business phone to call AAA, took a call back from them and even offered to let me sit inside and wait.

Wonderful Chinese Restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 until 9 and closed on Monday. Lunch Specials are served from 11:30 until 3.

For more information give them a call at (530) 647-8111.

They also have a Facebook page with lots of recommendations and good reviews from their customers (some of whom are very humorous).

So, I have always wondered why they put peas, carrots and corn in fried rice? Is it just for color and only here? I don’t think any of those are native to China.

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