In the rural communities of Vermont’s Washington County, sometimes you feel like your alternative eating options are a little slim. Most of its denizens – myself included – look for excuses to head into the big city – which, around here, means Barre and Montpelier – just to have a reason to stop in for a hot and tasty meal. But most of us have to watch our wallets as well.
Here, local Chinese-style restaurants provide both vibrant, flavor-filled choices and true value, making it affordable even when you need to feed the entire family. Most also provide decent opportunities for more American fare – like fried chicken, pizza, and seafood – so those who aren’t huge fans of chow fun or lo mein can eat with satisfaction – and without chopsticks.
House of Tang boasts one of the biggest and most complete buffets in the area. Yet they also offer a full menu complete with just about all your Asian favorites, with a few additional Western-style options thrown in for good measure. If you have some time and a reason to celebrate, you definitely want to order one of their tall and festive cocktails. The drinks made with rum seem especially tasty and ably cool the fire of even the most spicy dumpling or stir fry. Some of the chicken, beef, and pork dishes are especially nice, and you have a real choice in the overall heat of different dishes.
Ming Moon, located in the Big Lots! shopping plaza on the Barre-Montpelier Road, gives House of Tang a run for its money with its sumptuous buffet. The delicate, sweet and very creamy coconut chicken, the plump dim sum rolls, and delectable stuffed mushrooms are easy favorites. But you also want to make room for one of their soups along with the very complete appetizer and dessert table. There you can fill up on shell-yourself shrimp (the sauce is tangy and delightful) and sweet treats, including delicious almond cookies, a staple of Chinese cuisine. Almost everything in their buffet, where you pay by the pound, is also available on their menu for both take-out and eat-in. If you haven’t tried crab rangoons or chow fun before, this is the place to order them.
Last, but hardly least, check out China Star, almost across the main drag from Shaw’s supermarket on Main Street in Montpelier. Although they have no buffet for simple serve-your-self dining, they have a few tables out front for dining. Their menu features all the usual suspects, like lo mein and orange-flavored meat like beef. Here again, you can opt for the cooler dishes such as Happy Family (with a real mix of veggies and various meats) or take it up several temperature notches with some excellent Szechuan fare like garlic chicken and General Tso’s chicken. You can also go for big all-in-one selections or order a bit of this and a little of that, then take it home to share with family and friends.
House of Tang is located at 114 River Street as you come into Montpelier from Routes 14 and 2. Telephone: 802-223-6020.
Ming Moon is positioned on the ultra-busy Barre-Montpelier Road in Barre at 1400 US Route 302, in the same shopping plaza with Big Lots! The restaurant is tucked into the far right corner. Telephone: 802-476-8880.
China Star is found at 15 Main Street in Montpelier, across from Shaw’s and the Savoy Theatre. Telephone: 802-223-0808.