Article By: M.T. Decker
Photos By: Josh Triggs
Two years ago, when Tony and Christina Lin moved to Martinsburg, they opened the Golden China Restaurant at the former home of “La Taqueria Corita,” a drive through restaurant at 1117 North Queen Street. The location at the north end of town was ideal, but the building itself had issues.
“There were two tables,” Christina explained, describing the original layout. As she told me about the original restaurant, her husband was quick to remind her that the rest room entrance was outside the building.
“People don’t want to ask for the key,” Christina agreed, while discussing the problems they had with the original layout. “Our customers told us, they’d bring more people with them if we had more room.”
They knew for the restaurant to thrive, they would need to make some serious changes. The only problem was, they would have to close down the restaurant for 10 months to do it right. It would mean re-growing the restaurant, but that was nothing new to them.
Christina and Tony owned a Chinese Buffet Restaurant in Elkins, WV before moving to Martinsburg. While they loved Elkins and the restaurant, it was just too cold.
Their original restaurant was voted “The Best Chinese Restaurant in Randolph County, West Virginia.” Their success was due to Christina’s business acumen and Tony’s Cooking.
That combination is what has made Golden China a favorite. They knew that while they were remodeling they would lose some of their momentum, but they also knew in the end it would change their business for the better.
That rebuilding process has taken a small, drive-through restaurant and turned into something special. During the day, the place seems to blend in with its surroundings, but at night the lights and glass transform it into an exotic oasis.
Golden China now boasts seating for 30, and a design that would be at home in any major city on the east coast, anywhere in the world, even Martinsburg, WV.
The restaurant reminds me of pictures of restaurants I’ve seen in Japan and in other cities throughout Asia. The style is modern, with a hint of the exotic. To complement the remodel of the restaurant, they have also remodeled their menu, adding food that celebrates the journey that has brought Christina and Tony together and to their home in Martinsburg.
Christina explains that she was originally from Taiwan, and Tony from China. They met in Japan, and it makes sense that the food they serve reflects their journey.
Tony is at home in the kitchen and has always made dishes from different cultures. Christina describes how Tony loves to work with spices. This gift makes ‘standard’ Chinese Restaurant fair extraordinary.
Their chicken on a stick, for example, is juicy with a hit of Mongolian BBQ. Their Dumplings are tender, delicious and plentiful, and their Crab Rangoon has just the right balance of firm yet tender dough and cream cheese & crab filling.
You could easily fill up on their appetizers, but you’ll want to save room for their main dishes.
Their Mongolian Beef is sweet and spicy without being overpowering. While some restaurants are happy to use hot spices to cover flavors, Tony allows the sauce to compliment his foods rather than overwhelm them. Choose a spicy dish and the spice is part of the flavor, not something that overpowers the rest of the meal.
Their Beef with Broccoli is made with tender beef, broccoli that is steamed to that perfect point between tender and crunchy, and a sauce that isn’t just something to bring it together. It is flavorful and blends perfectly with the meal.
Meals are served with your choice of white or fried rice, and the rice is cooked to compliment the food. Their fried rice has a subtle flavor that won’t drown out the meal, and their white rice is actually a combination of three different rices.
In addition to these and other traditional foods found on the menu of most Chinese Restaurants, there are additions that reflect the journey the Lins have taken to get to Martinsburg.
There are distinctly Taiwanese dishes that have been added to the menu, such as: Pork over Rice with Egg, Beef with Sate Sauce, and coconut shrimp where the shrimp is drizzled with a coconut sauce.They have also added several traditional Japanese dishes such as Yaki Udon Stir-fry noodle, Eel on Rice (Unagi Don) and Miso Soup.
In addition to all the traditional ‘American’ Chinese foods, they also offer a very American take on Sweet and Sour Chicken. Their Honey Mustard Chicken will definitely raise a few eyebrows, and it is delicious. It has the right balance of flavors and the chicken is made from real chicken, not processed chicken meat.
And if that weren’t enough, Golden China is also the only place in Martinsburg to get Boba—Bubble Tea—a Taiwanese treat.
Christina is very proud of their bubble tea, a surprisingly tasty combination of flavors that originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s. At its base is a very fragrant Jasmine Tea, Christina orders specifically for the bubble tea. Added to the tea is the Boba (Tapioca pearls) along with other flavors including milk, passion fruit, peach They are a delicious treat that will also quench your thirst. The tea is incredible and the tapioca adds an interesting flavor and texture to the tea.
One taste of their food and you’ll know why their Buffet Restaurant was voted the top Chinese and mango bubble teas, or you can have simple green bubble tea. Restaurant in Randolph County. Their servings are generous and their prices are more than reasonable.
Whatever you order, it will be cooked fresh and served with a smile.
Whether you’re on the go, or ready for a sit-down meal, the next time you want very good Chinese food, Golden China is the place to go. If you want to try bubble tea in the Martinsburg area, there’s only one place you can find it: Golden China at 1117 North Queen Street.
If you haven’t eaten there before, you owe it to yourself to give Golden China a try.
You can visit them online at: goldenchinamartinsburg.com or on Facebook.