By Stacey Patton Wallace

Mike and I really enjoy eating Chinese food. Therefore, when we moved to Lee County in 2015, we quickly found our favorite Chinese restaurant in our area … the Mandarin House-Taste of Asia at 3800 Pepperell Parkway in Opelika.

  Recently, Mike and I had supper at the Mandarin House, and, as usual, we spent a delicious evening there. I love the restaurant’s beautiful décor. Also, Minji, our waitress, was so sweet, attentive and helpful. For our first appetizer (Yes, I said first. When we eat Chinese food, we don’t kid around.), Mike and I ordered the Crab Angels, which are fried wontons with cream cheese; what’s not to love? We also ordered two egg rolls (our second appetizer), which we quickly devoured.

  Next came the soup for two. Mike was a sweetie; although he prefers Hot and Sour Soup, we ordered my favorite, Egg Drop Soup. I’m a real wimp when it comes to spicy food, so I really appreciated his gallant gesture.

  For his entrée, Mike chose Mongolian Beef, which consists of sliced, tender beef, sautéed with red peppers and green onions, bedded on shredded rice sticks. I ordered Sesame Chicken, which has white meat and is deep fried and tossed with sesame sauce. We both ordered fried rice because anything fried just tastes better. Everything was SO delicious.

  Besides the wonderful appetizers we chose, the Mandarin House – Taste of Asia also offers many other choices, some of which include: Chinese Fantail Shrimp, Fried Calamari and Thai Sweet Basil Rolls.

  The Mandarin House serves a large variety of chicken, seafood, beef, pork and Chef’s Specialties, some of which include: Sweet and Sour Chicken, Almond or Cashew Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Sesame Shrimp, Schezuan Shrimp or Scallops, Kung Pao Shrimp, Pepper Steak, Sweet and Sour Pork, Lobster Peking Style, General Tso’s Chicken and Peking Duck.

Also, a lunch buffet is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday and Tuesday through Saturday. Believe me, this buffet is amazing and is NOT to be missed. Mike and I have grazed there often.

  We chatted with Mr. Alan Wang, the owner of the Mandarin House – Taste of Asia. He asked us to try Chinese Dumplings, which contain pork and cabbage with a minced ginger sauce which he comes in to make at 9 a.m. They were excellent! Also, Wang had us sample a new entrée, Coconut Shrimp, which was also very tasty. We ate so much; they could have bounced us to our car.

  Mike and I really appreciated the fact that Wang was so kind and took the time to talk with us, even though he was so busy.  Wang was born in South Korea and lived in poverty, he said, and he saved $2,000 to come to the U.S., starting out working as a bus boy. Wang said that he and his family have lived and worked in Opelika since 1994. He had owned another Mandarin House in Columbus; he sold that restaurant in 1996. Mike told Wang that he and his parents had eaten at that restaurant frequently.

  “I love America,” he said. “If you work hard, you can become anything you want in this country.” He also said the he is a proud parent of two Auburn University graduates.

  Mike and I love to support small family businesses such as the Mandarin House – Taste of Asia.

Hardworking immigrants such as Wang make this the greatest country in the world. After all, our ancestors were immigrants, too, coming to America for religious freedom and to start new lives.

Thank you for making us feel so welcome, Mr. Wang.    

  The Mandarin House-Taste of Asia is closed on Monday. The restaurant is open on Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Run, do not walk there, soon.

  The Mandarin House-Taste of Asia makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!

  Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in the Observer. Stacey may be reached at