Today, we went to the New China Palace restaurant on Melton Lake, 695 Melton Lake Drive,
Oak Ridge, TN. We have been there a few times before, but I had never written a review before. From the past, we knew that the dishes were smaller than we were used to at many Chinese restaurants, so we ordered three main dishes with our regular appetizers that we often order. Some Chinese places, we order our appetizers and two dishes for three of us, but we can’t do that at New China Palace as the serving sizes are smaller and probably my 15 year old son also eats a bit more than he used to.
We showed up a few minutes before they opened for a Saturday dinner and was immediately seated. The dining room/building is an older building that looks like it needs some upkeep, but it is pleasant inside. The ceiling decor looks like it has been somewhat removed maybe for taking to their new location, which I thought I had read would be available in October, but the website seems to be saying September. Can’t find the article that I know I read either. During the month of August they are giving a 15% discount on all meals until their move date.
We asked for tea to drink and looked over menus and the tea was brought out quickly and was reasonably good tea. Most Chinese tea is reasonably good, but tea in any other restaurant, according to the tea snobs who use loose leaf at home, meaning my husband and I, is not very good often times. We ordered our regular appetizers hot and sour soup for everyone, and an order of crab rangoon for my son primarily. I ordered pork lo-mein, my husband ordered a house special, General’s Chicken and my son ordered Beijing War Bar. This is a bit different than what we normally order. We almost always order some pork lo-mein, but often times order a Szechuan dish.
The hot and sour soup came to our table first and was quite good. My husband is a big fan of hot and sour soup and China Palace’s hot and sour soup is a good hot and sour soup. It is a decent spice level, without being too spicy. Then came the Crab Rangoon. We are used to the ones that stand upright and you pull them apart. These were more small triangles with a small dab of crab cream cheese in the center of the triangle. I never allow myself to eat more than one due the calories and fat in them, but my son loves them, as he loves crab. He and my husband felt they were decent, but not quite as good as we were used to. We have had much worse before where it felt like more cream cheese than crab meat.
Then our dishes came out and the rice had a few vegetables in it and some egg, I think. I was a bit afraid it had oil added to it, and so they took it back and brought us some plain white rice. This meant we had to try the dish that did not require rice first, the pork lo-mein. The dish had a decent flavor, but too much oil for my taste. The oil flavor somewhat overpowered the lo-mein flavor. Very quickly the plain rice was brought out along with my son’s dish, which is poured over a sizzling plate and served. I tried my husband’s dish, the General’s chicken next. The menu describes it this way “chicken and green pepper with garlic,ginger and fermented black beans in hot sauce.” I would have described it as chicken and green pepper with a spicy brown gravy sauce. It had some heat to it, but wasn’t as flavorful as I was expecting. I had also ordered two of the chinese pancakes as I like to have some bread with my meal to taste the juice with, etc. I did try the sauce with the pancake just a bit and it did have some heat, but not a lot of other flavor. My son’s meal the Beijing War Bar, had shrimp and beef and I guess chicken in it, as it is on that part of the menu. But my sampling mostly had beef in it, with some carrots and other small pieces of vegetables. It tasted a bit like a sweet and sour dish to me. The online menu does not give a description but the physical menu did give some kind of description, but I do not remember what it was.
We asked for a box, when we were basically done eating and they gave us one box for small amounts of left overs of three entrees and rice and a pancake. We had to ask for a second box, while each box has room for two small amounts of food and one larger amount, can’t really fit three small amounts, rice and pancake. Oh, we did get a second helping of rice this time. We have run into some Chinese restaurants that seem very rice stingy. Fortunes cookies were brought out with the bill. No one asked if we wanted dessert or anything, which surprised me. We would not have, but I am used to waiters/waitresses asking before they bring out the bill.
Overall, I find them a bit pricy for Chinese food and while the service is good, the food was only okay, except for the hot and sour soup. If you have a favorite dish at New China Palace, please let me know and when we go back, I may try it. But we do tend to have to order non-deep fat fried dishes, as our stomachs can’t take a lot of fat. Wonder if one can order the lo-mein lower fat or not.