October 13, 2010

Restaurant Review - China Lake

Last Saturday, Dan and I ate at China Lake, our new favorite restaurant in the Binghamton area. China Lake is located at 3215 E. Main St in Endicott. The atmosphere is nothing special and the service can be spotty (best not to wait for menus if it's busy, just grab 'em yourself from next to the register), but the food is definitely worth it! I also like that the food is so good it seems to break down certain normal social barriers... every time we go it seems people are talking to people at the next table - about how good the food is, about their favorite dishes, or the best ordering strategy.
China Lake has two menus -  a longer one with the usual American Chinese classics, and a shorter one-page menu with more traditional Chinese options. We have enjoyed dishes from both menus, but I am partial to the traditional menu and recommend trying dishes you are not familiar with. I also recommend going with a group of people so you can taste several dishes.
Failing that, plan to order more dishes than your party needs and take home the leftovers. This visit, we followed that strategy and ordered four dishes plus an appetizer for the two of us - steamed dumplings, home-style bean curd, three flavored chicken, pork lo mein, and pea shoots (listed on the menu as sweet pea leaf, I believe).
The dumplings were decent but nothing exciting, for an appetizer I recommend the beef scallion pancake. The bean curd was delicious, and just the right texture too, with a good assortment of veggies. Next time I'd skip the lo mein and order something else from the traditional menu. Dan's favorite was the three flavored chicken, which is cooked in small chunks on the bone with a sesame-based sauce flavored with garlic, ginger, basil, and some secret tasty ingredients (the proprietress would not divulge). The pea shoots were my favorite dish - cooked just the right amount and not too strongly flavored so the natural taste of the greens came through. I would be inclined to order these next time if I hadn't committed myself to ordering my way through their entire list of veggie options.
Although if I get enough people to accompany me next time, I can have my pea shoots and eat some other traditional Chinese veggies too. Who'd like to join me?


  1. count me in. i am overdue for a chinese feast!

    i also love pea shoots.

  2. Believe it or not, there is not just one but three places with authentic Chinese food here. None of them are quite China Village (no hot and cold salad or tea-smoked duck) but then we haven't eaten our way through the full menus yet so we'll see.

  3. I still think i have some chinese ancestry somewhere. there can't be any other explanation for my deep love of chinese food.