Tucked just off of Blacksburg’s Main Street, China Inn looks exactly like your quintessential Chinese restaurant. Just a short walking distance from campus, a neon yellow sign displaying the restaurant name ensures it will not be passed by.
The restaurant interior boasts the same idea: the walls are covered with Chinese paintings and pictures, with plants and bamboo structures decorating the inside.
After looking over the surprisingly diverse menu, I ordered the steamed dumplings.
Crispy fried strips with a sweet dipping sauce keep you company while you wait for your food. That wait wasn't long though, as the waitress promptly brought out the steaming dumplings and accompanying sauce.
From the presentation, the dumplings didn’t look like much: small, half-moon shaped pieces of dough stuffed with pork and spices. After my first bite, I was sadly disappointed. My intuition had served me right; the dumplings were average and lacking the flavor I was craving.
Disappointed, I dunked my dumplings in the paired sauce, hoping to change my mind. The sauce was definitely flavorful and packed a punch in the heat department. Unfotunately, it was the only flavor component to the dumpling meal.
Overall, I would say that China Inn is average at best. To me, it was just another inexpensive Chinese establishment. While the dumplings were around $5 — a reasonable meal cost for a college student — I would not go out of my way to eat here. Truthfully, many other offerings would satisfy my hunger rather than these so-so dumplings and other Chinese fare.
From the outside looking in, Happy Wok doesn’t look like much. Centered between popular restaurants and located right by campus, this small restaurant almost gets overlooked. Never again.
Upon entering this small restaurant, I immediately felt as though I had stepped into another country. Delicious smells permeated my senses. As for the interior, the restaurant doesn’t impress. However, a drink case containing imported juices and liquid refreshments that were unknown to me, caught my eye.
Walking up to the register, I ordered the steamed dumplings for around $5 and they were ready in a matter of minutes. After sitting down to my meal, I noticed that many of the customers at Happy Wok were regulars — a good sign.
Time for my first bite. Looking at the large stuffed dumplings, my mouth began to water. The flavor did not disappoint by any means. Homemade, soft, doughy, generously filled dumplings filled my belly, and I knew I would be leaving completely satisfied.
A sweet brown dipping cup accompanied the filling meal. While the dumplings were completely tasty eaten alone, the sauce brought the meal to a whole new level. Its sweetness was multidimensional, adding complex layers that were not too overbearing, with just the right amount of sweetness for the savory pork dumplings.
With its intimidating specials menu — it's completely in Chinese — I will admit that I was reluctant to stop in for a first visit. However, I would now be willing to order just about anything served here. I’m THAT confident in Happy Wok’s food. I left both pleasantly stuffed and definitely “happy.”I will never again bypass the entrance to Happy Wok. This is one restaurant I will definitely keep coming back to for more.