April 15, 2012

Crab Rangoon Theory

OK, don't laugh at me.

My sister and I have an obsession with this Chinese restaurant in Dover New Hampshire called China Yan. Now, I love Chinese food in general, but China Yan is something special. Dover is a college town (well, right next to one) so the food is cheap, substantial, and delicious. We're talking a $6 buffet and homemade Crab Rangoon. When my sister visited from out west a few years back she went there before seeing her parents or me and claims that, upon her death, she would like her urn placed on the shelf behind the register. Yans is a family business and during my time in and out of the area I've watched their kids (a boy and girl) grow up from pigtails to high school. We use to order ridiculous amounts of Chinese food and the kid's mother would give us five pairs of chopsticks and at least ten fortune cookies, even though she knew damn well that we were the only ones eating that food.

See? Obsession isn't really too strong a word. When my sister and I were on the west coast we searched for a Chinese restaurant that could compare to Yans, assuming that the closer we got to China the better the Chinese food would get. While I'm sure there is wonderful Crab Rangoon out there, we didn't find it.

Crab Rangoon: that's how we gauge a restaurant. It's not very scientific, but the theory is that crab Rangoon is one of the easiest things to cheat on. You can get them frozen, use sub par filling, or fail to change the friolator grease. If they're cutting corner with the crab rangoon, the rest of their food cannot be trusted.

Anyway (I really was going somewhere with this) I recently found a Chinese restaurant that might be on par with China Yan. It's called Wong Garden and if you're ever in the Belchertown Mass area you should swing by. The only difficulty with my discovery is that they really aren't close to where I "live", so yesterday I concocted an entire day out based around my craving for Chinese food. I drove out to Spencer Mass where there is a great Salvation Army Store (which I only found one shirt at) and Pine Grove Cemetery. You might remember that I visited Pine Grove back in July of 2011 and not much has changed, but I got a coffee and walked about for an hour or so. It was a very nice Saturday out and the best part was that on my way "home" I drove through Belchertown and said to myself "well, since I'm in the area I might as well grab some Chinese food..."


  1. I, too, judge all Chinese restaurants by the quality of the crab rangoon.

    Sadly, living in the southwest, the crab in the crab rangoons seems to be non existent. So sad

  2. Funny thing about crab rangoons, I never encountered them until I moved to TX. At least I don't ever recall seeing them until now, and I've grown up in Chinese restaurants (not counting the ones my father owned). Weird huh! I know it's a common practice for most restaurants to carry two menus. One for the Chinese customers and one for everyone else. However it's not like I speak the language(s) save for a few bad words. I'm gonna hafta go with them seeing my mad Chinese swagger as I enter their establishment always prompts them to give me the "insiders" menu.

    I have the same personal litmus test when it comes to finding good Chinese restaurants. Crispy pan fried noodles or Flat rice noodles with beef. If the second dish is available I know the place is the real (Cantonese) McCoy. The first noodle dish is typically a Hong Kong style dish that's made commonly, but only a few get it right. If you can find a place with a Dim Sum menu then you've hit nirvana!

  3. Great post. I love Chinese food. I have to, my BF is Chinese! LOL!

    When his mom comes to visit from NYC, she cooks a lot. He loves it. I'm not a big fan of "real Chinese food" like his mom cooks. I like the American-ized stuff at the local panda garden.

    I honestly, can't say that I've ever had a homemade crab rangoon. The ones we get are usually all uniform, star shaped and are too crispy.

    I will have to check out thse places you mentioned next time I head North to Maine.

  4. Ya know i think i'm blessed or something, both my others and my kids love Chinese food, and so do i. But my obcession is Indian food, if i can't pronounce it, i love it!

  5. You struck a nerve there, Ash. I agree with you regarding the crab rangoon. If a restaurant cuts corners and use the frozen ones straight from a truck, it's a sure bit they skimp in other places, too.

    I love the rangoons that actually have a little crab in with the cream cheese - most don't. But when you find a restaurant that does, it's one to remember.... Yum... Good stuff.

    Van Trekker


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