I first visited “China Moon” back in 1990. It is apparently immune to the forces that have seen the occupants of the strip mall on either side of it change repeatedly since then and it has stood up to the competition from the popular Bill Bateman’s that is now next door. Nothing much has changed since 1990; the décor, food and service feel the same (that’s a good thing and it continues to do good business).
Inside, there are 18 tables covered in white linen tablecloths and artfully folded napkins under three rows of white globe lights sandwiched between an attractive wall of green tinted glass etched with prancing horses and the opposing wall of mirrors. At the back of the dining room, a small Asian style sushi bar (that we’ve never seen any one ever sit at it! Sushi is just not China Moon’s forte) adds color to the room)
From the moment we’re seated, we feel like valued guests as Raymond, an excellent and long time waiter here, quickly unfolds our napkins and places them on our laps. Right away, complementary dishes of pickled cabbage and fried crackers (which prove hard to resist as we dip them in either sweet sauces or Chinese mustard and get refilled as we empty them) appear on the table. The menu offers the expected wide range of Chinese dishes. Prices are a surprise though with soups starting at $1.60 and most entrees (with the exception of the “Extra Ordinaries” section) priced at $8-$12. All of us decide to start with a round of Hot & Sour soup ($1.60 !) then with a sampling of appetizers for our table: Spring Rolls (2 for $3), Egg Roll ($3), Chicken Curls ($5), Shumai ($5). For entrees, Marty orders Mu Shu Chicken ($12), John opts for Hunan Shrimp ($12), JT decides on Shrimp In Lobster Sauce ($12) and Bill goes for Tantalizing Trio ($12). Since we’re celebrating JT’s birthday, we splurge and order China Moon Fried Rice for all of us to share ($10).
The “Hot & Sour” soup nicely balanced “hot” and “sour” making for a tasty start. We’re amazed that it was $1.60 for a cup! The appetizers prove equally enjoyable. We preferred the Spring Rolls with their lighter crust and tastier filling over the traditional heavy crusted Egg Rolls. Four Chicken Curls had minced chicken with celery and carrots in iceberg lettuce leaves and were really tasty (and avoided the extra calories and fat of the “rolls”). The Shumai were 6 small steamed shrimp dumplings with a tasty brown sauce for dipping. When the dishes were cleared away (we somehow finished off all of these appetizers!), our server brought complementary little scoops of orange sherbet to “cleanse our palates” before the entrees arrived. How charming!
Our jaws dropped at the size of the entrée portions as they were set down in front of us. Marty’s Moo Shu was piled high (and even after wrapping up four pancakes full, he ended up with enough “take home” for two lunches!). John’s Hunan Shrimp must have had at least 10 large shrimp nestled with broccoli, bamboo shoots and mushrooms in a tasty brown sauce (a little salty but hard to resist!) JT’s Shrimp in Lobster sauce had another surprising number of big shrimp covered in a creamy pale (and luscious!) lobster sauce with peas and minced chicken while the Tantalizing Trio included shrimp, beef and chicken with broccoli, mushrooms and water chestnuts in a brown sauce. The special “China Moon Fried Rice” was a heaping plate of fried rice with whole shrimp as well as diced chicken and pork and diced veggies (really delicious but overkill with the generous entrée portions!) While we ate our filled, the bus boy kept our water glasses filled and made sure we felt attended to.
Having heard us say that this was our friend JT’s birthday, our waiter brought a complementary dessert of peppermint ice cream with a candle set in a cherry on top for JT. (The peppermint ice cream is unusual and delicious and worth trying if you have room left for dessert! <Wink!>)
The attentive service, really good food, generous portions, quite reasonable prices and pleasant environment impressed us and earns our recommendation and “Thumbs Up!”. China Moon is definitely a place to try if you’re craving Chinese food and out near Reisterstown.
BASICS? China Moon, Reisterstown, 100 Chartley Drive; 410-833-3992; http://www.chinamoon-md.com/ ; Open daily 11:30 am – 10:00 pm; Full bar; vegetarian options; Located in Chartley Shopping Center just off Reisterstown Rd (next door to “Bill Bateman’s”); lots of adjacent free parking