The happy marriage of keeping a family tradition while also introducing new ideas and flavors can be challenging for a restaurant.
Joe and Sue Lee started their restaurant on 24th and Monroe in 1985 and then moved where the Enterprise Car rental spot is now on 7th and Washington. Today, and for the past 18 years, they have been at their current location. The siblings took over the restaurant in 2017 when Joe and Sue retired. They have extremely delicious, homemade Chinese food, both traditional and some newer dishes created by Jenny (head chef). One of their newer focuses is to have options for all dietary needs. With the rise in food allergies, they have developed dishes for those struggling with allergies like gluten intolerance and can customize many dishes to meet those needs.
Sue and Wen, the sibling’s mom and grandma, hand make their dumplings every other week. Nancy is the face of the business and has three children. During her last maternity leave, Nancy’s mom called her to comment that the dumpling sales have dropped off. Wondering why they were being asked to make less, she suddenly realized that Nancy was the reason the dumpling quantities had fallen off. It was because Nancy was not there!
One of our favorite dishes was the Sweet Hot Beef, with a bright red sauce that could be described as both sweet and spicy. It was a great flavor and is one of the house favorites. It has a slightly crisped coating on the beef strips and is cooked in a sauce that is very delicious. It is also served with broccoli, onions and bell peppers.
Another favorite was the Wing Wah X.O. Fried Rice which is cooked in a sauce that takes two days to make. The amount of care and effort that goes into this, and other dishes, really comes through in the flavors. We also tried a seafood dish with crab, shrimp, scallops and calamari in a light ginger sauce that can range from mild to spicy and it was awesome. If you are a seafood fan, it is the order for you.
These siblings are each highly educated and were successful in their own careers. When their parents said they would like to sell the restaurant and retire, Nancy, with an air of nostalgia, said, “Wait a minute, this is dad’s legacy; we can’t just let this go.” They decided to take on the restaurant and keep it in the family. They each help juggle the restaurant around busy schedules with Jenny, the head chef, still working her day job in the mornings as a social worker. She, however, is a foodie and loves creating fun meals. One recent adventure was when they created a secret couple’s dinner for Valentine’s Day. It was very successful and highly praised. A fun start to a new tradition.
That is just what Wing Wah has to offer: a delicious blend of tradition meets homemade innovation in Chinese food. Give them a try on your next night out. You won’t be disappointed.
PS: You also must try the dessert Wonton’s Caramel Apple and Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake. They brought a tear to my eye…literally!