December 13, 2010 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
Ever heard the phrase, “Sex is like pizza – even when it is bad, it is still pretty good”?
I’d like to replace “pizza” with “Chinese food.”
Crowded buffets and hipster delivery guys have provided me with a steady stream of greasy, fatty, Americanized Chinese food for years. But each dish, no matter how mediocre, has satisfied my craving for something foreign enough to be exciting, yet familiar enough to be comforting.
China Inn manages to quell the need for Chinese food and go above the minimum expectations for this style of food. I’ve spent the past several hours trying to think of something witty to say about China Inn, but really, it comes down to this: China Inn is pretty darn good.
The restaurant, which offers Chinese and Thai food, is located in the Cardinal Shopping Center on the edge of the University of Louisville’s campus. The restaurant knows and caters to its clientele – broke college students. Every entree is less than $10, very agreeable to a dwindling bank account.
There is a lot to choose from on the China Inn menu. The dishes are divided into sections based upon the main ingredient (chicken, barbecue pork, beef, vegetables, shrimp) or type of cuisine (Thai dishes, fried rice, egg foo young). There are also 26 combination plates that come with a pork egg roll and plain fried rice. All of the plates are less than $7.
China Inn is a great place to eat if you don’t want to venture out from your Chinese food comfort zone. Familiar dishes are planted throughout the menu, such as chicken fried rice ($5.85), beef lo mein ($7.70), General Tso chicken ($8.45) or moo goo gai pan ($7.45). But the Thai section of the menu provides a wider variety of noodle dishes than what is usually offered – pad se iew, pad thai, pad ke mao (all starting at $6.70) and pad ka prow (starting at $7.70).
I visited China Inn on a Thursday night when the special of the day is pineapple and chicken curry ($7.95). Too bad I didn’t call in my order until 7 p.m. The lady at China Inn said they were out of the curry, so I went with my old Chinese standby, chicken with broccoli ($7.45) and a vegetable egg roll ($1.25).
As you can see, China Inn provided a hefty portion of chicken with tons of vegetables that were crisp and fresh. The thin strips of chicken were plentiful. The whole heap was coated in a savory brown sauce that was slightly sweet and thin, a big improvement on the viscous sauce that I’ve received at other restaurants. The egg roll was as good as the chicken with vegetables and stuffed with its own hearty mix of veggies. There was some serious nomnomnom happening.
Fortunately, China Inn fits into my budget and pleases the taste buds. Since this little restaurant is in my neighborhood, I’m making my devotion to China Inn permanent by adding its number into my phone. Is that commitment or what?
Notes about China Inn:
- Like all of the other college-crowd Chinese restaurants I’ve experienced, the dining area was abandoned when I picked up my order. I’m sure most people take advantage of China Inn’s take-out option.
- If you want extra sauce, it costs 25 to 50 cents extra depending on the type.
- The restaurant sells Kizito cookies, a local favorite of mine.
- China Inn offers specials throughout the week, but order early before they run out.
- China Inn, Cardinal Shopping Center, 1925 South Fourth Street, Louisville, Ky.
- Chicken with broccoli: $7.45
- Vegetable egg roll: $1.25
- Total (with tax): $9.23