Imagine the shock of moving to a tiny town in rural Illinois and discovering a Chinese restaurant on the same level as the magnificent ones I dined in all over Asia! This is the case with the China Restaurant located on the town square in Highland, Illinois. The place doesn't look like much from the outside, but there's ample parking and even though the booth seating is a little lumpy, the staff is friendly and they all speak English fluently. The menu prices are VERY reasonable and although the portions aren't huge, they are more than enough for a substantial meal. The egg rolls are more like spring rolls, but are very tasty. The Wonton soup has big meaty wontons in a lovely chicken broth that was made from chickens instead of soup base. The Hot and Sour soup is one of the best I've had in the USA and only equalled by a restaurant in Palm Beach, FL and another one in Richmond, VA who use the virtually the same recipe. The LoMeins are tasy and filled with meats and veggies as is the fried rice, and even though this is ordinary fare, they do a very good job of it--and if you can't do the basics well, the rest won't be good either. They do excellent sweet and sour dishes as their meat pieces are mostly meat instead of mostly breading and is very crisp and not greasy.Where China Restaurant really shines is in the Chef Specialties. Their General Tao's Chicken has a very thin crisp coating and is tossed in a wonderful sauce and served with very fresh steamed broccoli and has a spicy sweet bite that can be adjusted to your taste preferences. Their Orange Beef is likewise a tasty dish with a definite orange flavor and bits of juliennes orange peel prominently scattered through the dish. The Sesame Beef is tender with a light sauce that again will have a spicy bite altered to your taste. They will also add spice to dishes that are not normally though of as spicy dishes if you request it. The Mu Shu Pork (or beef, chicken and shrimp) is wonderfully flavored and rolled up in lovely thin rice pancakes with just the right touch of Hoisin sauce and the Twice Cooked Pork is a classic in brown sauce that lightly glazes the cabbage, peppers and pork. Even the fortune cookies are good--fresh, crisp and individually wrapped. The service is attentive and water and beverage service is prompt, and chopsticks are available on request. They have a small selection of imported beers including Tsing Tao which is a very good Chinese imported beer and a small wine selection. They deliver lunch and dinner locally as well as catering and selling their sauces (sweet and sour, etc.) by the pint or quart for use in home recipes. Friendly service, low prices, fresh ingredients and an excellent chef make this little Asian restaurant jewel shine in the heartland in a place you would not expect to find it!
Food: 4 stars
Service 3 stars
UPDATE: China Restaurant has been refurbished and redecorated and looks GREAT!! They have added a full liquor bar, new carpeting, new lighting, 2 beautiful aquariums and a big High-Definition TV in the bar for the patrons. The food remains First Class!!