Everyone Yen Ching tonight!

By Jackie Fender on March 4, 2014

Before there was a Food Network or even a city of Lakewood, there was the Yen Ching Restaurant - a steadfast friend doling out exotic flavors from all corners of Asia as it watched other Lakewood International District restaurants come and go over its 30-year history.

Lakewood is now a city, and the strip of South Tacoma Way around Yen Ching has been dubbed "Korean Town," and still Yen Ching remains my go to for authentic Chinese cuisine with its wide variety of Mandarin and Szechwan dishes. 

Speaking of "go-to," Yen Ching Chicken ($12.95) is simply delicious. Tender, marinated diced chicken with sliced mushrooms and bits of green onions are evenly coated in a house "special sauce" teasing with a delicate smoky sweetness and an emphasis on sesame flavor. Don't expect bells and whistles. Do know a splash of soy sauce or sriracha is an option. Served up with white rice, the portion is easily shareable - especially if you start off with their splendid pot stickers.

With rich, worn reds, Chinese New Year placemats, a koi pond and a large Buddha greeting diners, here's hoping Yen Ching is around for another 30.

YEN CHING CHICKEN, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, Yen Ching Restaurant, 8765 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.582.3400