The problem with Chinese food is Chinese buffets. Not that I don't love a good Chinese buffet: like every jolly blonde American with ten bucks and a spare tire, I have often found myself feasting upon orange "chicken" and "king krab salad." The bar that Chinese buffets set for non Chinese buffets is high: why pay extra for one plate of good Chinese food when you can pay less for ten plates of mediocre Chinese food?
I have to say, though, I think The Onion Restaurant & Tea House in New Albany has something good going for it.
The little mom and pop place has everything on their menu from a salmon burger to an array of teas from all over the globe. We ordered coconut bubble tea to start--a giant cool mug of slightly sweet, very coconutty beverage with tapioca pearls in the bottom. The bubble tea was the most successful part of the meal for me; it was delicate and interesting. The rose milk tea was delicate and also delicious. We ordered the Onion Special Beef, the Almond Chicken, and the Happy Family.
The main dishes were...well, they were good. Very warm, well sauced and affordable--but not exactly foodie paradise. There is something to be said for simple staple food done well, and this was done well. Though The Onion suffers from some common Chinese restaurant maladies (way too much on the menu, kitschy decor, unimaginative presentation) it's delicious food and tea at a reasonable price (three adults at lunch, with two cups of tea, for about $36.00), and the quality beats the buffet hands down. Get some coconut bubble tea or rose milk tea, you won't be sorry.
photos: Elizabeth Orrick
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