Mr. ValleyWriter and I love Chinese food. Well, the Americanized version of it anyway. You know, fried goodies, beef teriyaki, floured chicken in a sticky, sweet sauce, etc. I know this is not "real" Chinese food (if it were, the Chinese would all be obese and dead by age 30), but it is a nice treat every once in a while. Unfortunately, since we moved to the Valley, we've had trouble finding good Chinese.
When we were living in Hatfield, we ordered from Hunan Gourmet in Northampton a few times. They were always voted "Best of the Valley" for Chinese - and the food was good - but then one day a story came out about someone finding a rat foot in their moo-shoo pork and Hunan Gourmet quickly went out of business.
Since then, we've tried 3-4 other places, but never went back anywhere. Until now. Last fall, our neighbors joined us in the quest for good Chinese. They'd had similar experiences to ours - and worse. Finally, we stumbled across West Lake Gourmet in Southampton. We had a great experience in the fall and the good results were just repeated last night (with leftovers again tonight).
West Lake Gourmet is a small restaurant tucked into the Red Rock Plaza shops (across from the Big Y). Both times we've ordered takeout, but since they don't deliver, I did get to go inside and check out the dining room. It's pretty small - only about 10 tables - but looks comfortable. They have a bar and, of course, an extensive menu.
For our impromtu dinner party with the neighbors last night, we got an order of General's Chicken, vegetable lo mein, chicken fingers and teriyaki beef. The total came to less than $40 - and it was a ton of food! 4 of us ate last night hearty dinners last night and Mr. ValleyWriter and I had dinner again tonight. But large portions aren't exactly uncommon in the Chinese food world. The proof is really in the taste. And West Lake delivers.
For appetizers, we started out with chicken fingers and teriyaki beef. The chicken fingers were heavily battered, but when you're going all out - you might as well go all out. The first night they were good, but when reheated, they seemed kind of greasy. (That may be a problem with all fried food, though. We don't really eat it enough to know.) The teriyaki beef was tender and flavorful. Next time, I'm going to vote for a bigger order of that.
For dinner, we moved on to the General's Chicken and vegetable lo mein. The chicken was cut into even chunks that were covered in a smooth batter and fried until nice and crispy. The sauce was the perfect balance between sweet and spicy - and I really enjoyed the red and green peppers they used (instead of the usual cold broccoli). The lo mein was chock full of vegetables - water chestnuts, baby corn, mushrooms, bean sprouts and onions. The flavor was very mild and there wasn't much sauce at all, which was a good compliment to the saucy General's chicken.
I can't ask for much more from good "American" Chinese. The real test will be if we eat at the restaurant and try their scorpion bowl. The scorpion bowl can make or break a restaurant for me! But, until further notice, I'm declaring West Lake Gourmet my "Best of the Valley" for Chinese. (Now I'm off to make up for my indulgence. I'll be riding the bike for - oh - a few hours (or maybe days?)!)