New China Gourmet

Game, Set, and Match

You could lose your lunch at New China Gourmet. But you could just as well win your lunch, too. Frank the cook likes to play his customers a game of ping-pong. If you win, he buys your lunch. If you lose, you’re buying. I need to point out that Frank doesn’t have to give many meals away, but it certainly happens. And where does this table tennis battle royale take place? Let me draw a picture for you: There are only six tables inside New China Gourmet, the biggest being a ping-pong table, which takes up most of the dining room. The other five are for eating and spectating. There’s also a wall of fame, including photos of matches and a list of winners. New China Gourmet has all the standards on the menu (general Tso’s chicken, chow mein, lo mein, moo goo gai pan), but you might find the flavors more homestyle than restaurant-style. Which is to say, Frank’s dishes don’t assault your taste buds. The hot and sour soup is slightly sweet, the spring rolls are delicate, and the portions are huge. The menu is substantial and includes eight different soups plus 19 shrimp entrées, curries, and Mei Fun rice noodle dishes. And Frank will put as much heat in your food as he does in his ping-pong game. (The heat in the food is optional. The heat in the game is not.) I think they take the Asian sports bar idea a little far at Frank’s place, but it’s great entertainment. Just one thing: if you find a white mushroom in your hot and sour soup that seems a little too large and a little too round…

New China Gourmet, 1183 W. Galbraith Rd., (513) 729-4197.

Prices: $5–$9. Lunch and dinner seven days.

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