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Ripons New China: Among nations best
Ripon restaurant owners proudly display their “Overall Excellence” awards recognized as being among the top 100 Chinese restaurants in the nation. From left are Wendy and John Yeung and their son Henry. - photo by GLENN KAHL
RIPON - New China Restaurant in Ripon has achieved the ranking of “Overall Excellence” among the nation’s Chinese dining spots.

The recognition was conferred during an awards ceremony last week at the National Restaurant Association’s gathering at San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.

John and Wendy Yeung have operated New China in the Town Square Shopping Center on West Main Street since 1989 with their sons Henry and Jimmy joining them while still in elementary school.

Henry remembers back to the fifth grade when he would go to the restaurant after the end of his school day at Weston Elementary School. His first chore was to find an empty table where he would sit down and do his homework. Later he would busy himself packing up “to go” orders among other things.

Brother Jimmy is two years behind Henry and in college on track with a biology major. Henry would like to mix medicine and business hoping to be a hospital administrator after finishing college. He has already spent many hours shadowing professionals in several hospitals including the Central Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera.

Henry Yeung said his extended family members are too many to count, saying it would take three pages to list all of them. His father’s parents alone had eight children, he said.

New China was recognized earlier in 2008 naming their restaurant in the top 100, with regional honors in the nation, resulting in a prestigious recognition.

Yeung said the family’s Ripon restaurant is where everything is about customer care and freshness of their products.

 “We don’t keep anything on a warmer – we strive for that (freshness),” he added.

He further noted that his dad has a very keen sense of smell in addition to being an outstanding chef.

“My dad can go anywhere and just sniff a sauce and immediately tell you what’s in it – the ingredients that made its taste,” the younger Yeung said.

New China also received a trophy and citation last week for being over the top choice with their local Ripon customers. Yeung said that meant so much to them because it represented their patrons’ feelings that supported them through their email voting.

“We treat people like family – that’s the reason they come back.” He further noted that anybody who questions their dinner will have it immediately cooked over for them.

Henry said he and his brother can both prepare Chinese cuisine, but he enjoys making Italian dinners for his friends. His brother Jimmy is all about nutrition and is faithfully going to the gym. Henry said cooking a meal is all about family and friends.

In the judging for the national overall excellence award, a total of 40 percent of the points came from a “mystery shopper” who dined at the West Main Street restaurant in August. In addition a public vote represents 30 percent of the award with 20 percent coming from recognition of past culinary awards and 10 percent from an advisory panel’s evaluation.

The mystery judge rated New China for décor and atmosphere, cleanliness and sanitation, service, food, bottom line and experience giving a 100 percent rating in all categories with these comments:

“The Honey Walnut Chicken was served hot and steaming. I had large pieces of caramelized walnuts sprinkled over the top. The chicken was tender and moist on the inside and the outside was cooked to a perfect crisp. The sauce was sweet, creamy and tasted delicious. There were plenty of vegetables and some small scrambled egg pieces mixed within the rice. The vegetables were tender, and the rice was cooked to just the right texture and lightly seasoned.

“It was full of flavor and looked great on the plate. The egg roll was large and had plenty of stuffing. It was cooked to a golden brown color and was crispy on the outside. The crust was flaky and the filling was seasoned just right. There was a section of the menu dedicated to ‘weight watchers.’ It had several vegetable and high protein items available.”

The bottom line: “The food was delicious and the portion sizes were generous. The employees were all upbeat and friendly.”