The Chen Family Opens China 1 in Vicksburg

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Kit Yu Chen answers the phone at China 1 with her daughter by her side, peeking over the counter.

By Sheryl Oswalt

According to my fortune cookie, “Executive ability is prominent in your make up.” Until then, I will continue to write for the South County News and provide you with a monthly introduction to the many great food establishments available in our area. Being a creature of habit, I had looked forward to continuing a 20-year tradition of having Chinese for lunch on Friday when I moved to Vicksburg.

So I have been watching with anticipation of the community’s new establishment, China 1.

China 1 opened May 5 to welcome customers at 113 E Prairie Street in Vicksburg. Owner and operator Duo Chen, who goes by Ronald, purchased the former hair salon in November, 2014 and has been working to renovate the building into a five-cooking-station eating place. The building is bright and authentically decorated and allows for 14 dining-in guests.

Ronald’s family was in the restaurant business in Lansing, so continuing a family tradition was a natural decision. Ronald and his wife, Kit Yu Chen, moved to Vicksburg from Ann Arbor with their children, Valerie and Keith. They were looking for a small community with good schools, a friendly atmosphere and a need for a good Chinese restaurant; thus Vicksburg! The staff totals five; Ronald, his wife Kit and three other workers they brought from their previous location.

On the night we ordered, the phone was ringing off the hook, the cooking stations were rocking and orders were flowing in and out of the door. It was obvious that the team has experience working together and runs like a well-oiled machine. Our order was promised and prepared within the 15-minute window.

They found Vicksburg a very cooperative place to open their new business, obtaining their permits in record time. Ronald commented several times how nice they have found the people to be here. They are proud to bring just one more option in a list of great places to eat in the South County area.

The Chens are pleased with the level of business they have been seeing since their opening day less than a month ago. They weren’t sure about being open on Memorial Day but found business to be pleasantly strong. Ronald says Friday is their busiest day. He feels that’s very common in the business, regardless of the type of food being served.

With the small dining area, the bulk of their business is centered on take-out. The most popular dishes have been the orange chicken, sweet and sour and fried rice. Ronald and I decided that for those looking to try Chinese food but not sure where to start, the chicken and vegetables is a great place to begin. With my husband being one of those people raised on traditional meat and potatoes, he was very happy with his choice. I went with my standard favorite, General Tso’s chicken, and found it pleasing as well. Not only was the food good, it was priced in line with other Chinese food establishments I have frequented and a bonus was the great take-out containers that allow for easy carry and refrigeration as well as great for warming up the left-overs.

Hours are 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday and noon-9:30 p.m., Sunday. Orders can be placed in person, by phone at (269) 475-5656, or via fax at (269) 475-5654. The restaurant has an extensive menu and a friendly staff ready to serve you.

Ronald made me a complimentary dish to take home and it was very flavorful. My fortune cookie today indicates “If you can shape it in your mind, you will find it in your life.” I find that very fitting for the Chen family, and my own, as we both make Vicksburg our new home.

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