Nov. 12 2008 12:00 AM

Golden Wok offers diners dim sum experience


As flawed as the second “Indiana Jones” movie is, the opening scene set in Shanghai is still pretty cool. Indiana Jones sits at the opposite end of a round table from a bad guy. Bad guy sets a diamond on the tabletop— which is revolving — and spins it over to Indy, who sets the ashes to China’s first emperor on it and spins it back over to the bad guy, then poisoned champagne gets spun back to Indy, etc. etc. — great for a plot device, but that’s just the movies, right?

Ahh, Doctor Jones, wrong again. It’s a special tabletop designed for a serving style called “dim sum” — a small-plates version of Chinese food — and there’s a restaurant right here in mid-Michigan that features it. On the edge of East Lansing, heading toward Okemos, the Golden Wok has been swiveling tables and serving up awardwinning Chinese food for five years now. Last year, the restaurant was recognized in chicken, noodles nation then happens.

Golden ary dim ordering make server your want it?” able root baked. diner Chinese Restaurant News magazine as one of the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the United States. Talk about credentials.

“We just serve Chinese food the traditional way,” says co-owner Ginny Cheung, who runs the Golden Wok with her husband Danny. “And we try to keep up with new dishes that come out in China, too. No other restaurant is doing that around here.”

Golden Wok moved to East Lansing from south Lansing in 2003, where it had existed for three years. The Cheungs originally opened Golden Wok in Adrian in 1990 but moved to mid-Michigan so their children could go to Michigan State University.

“And besides,” says Ginny Cheung, “We love the customers and the students here. We really appreciate all the support they’ve given us over the years. They make it fun for us to be here.”

So they try and make it fun for their customers. The Cheungs’ menu items are userfriendly and recognizable to even the most novice diner of Asian cuisine. General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour pork and pan-fried noodles are here, as is a selection of combination platters and low-calorie entrees. But then on the weekends, something special happens.

On Fridays and Saturdays at lunch, the Golden Wok serves dim sum in the customary Chinese turntable style. (You can get dim sum during the week, but it’s more like ordering a la carte). Wheeled steam carts make the rounds of the dining room, as the server behind the handlebars calls out to your table what’s inside and asks you if you want any. The answer is usually, “What is it?”

A quick primer: the taro cakes (also available as dumplings) are squares of slivered root vegetable, which are either steamed or baked. Be careful, they’re addictive — one diner was heard saying they were “like crack” for him. The shu mai are pork or shrimp dumplings, not unlike potstickers, which are also available. The chow fun is a homemade noodle dish made with black bean sauce, green onion and bean sprouts, and can be served with beef, chicken or shrimp. Most everything else is called out by its self-explanatory English name: shrimpstuffed green pepper, beef and shrimp rolls (in a crepe-like roll), sesame ball (stuffed with sweet bean paste) and barbecue pork pastry.

If you want it, the server will then place a small plate with two or three of the featured items on the Lazy Susan, you take one, then turn the table so the next person can have some in front of him or her. That person takes one, and then the game of spin-theentre continues. If you don’t like it, chances are someone at your table will, so keep it turning.

This style works best, like tapas or hibachi restaurants, if you have more than four people at a table, and the restaurant has tables that can accommodate up to eight.

Of course, there’s always that traditional dinner menu as well, and it’s got a killer selection of seafood. Ever hear that old chestnut, “fish any fresher would still be in the water”? Well, here they still are, literally. Tilapia are swimming in a tank near the front, and there are also lobster and crabs available.

The Golden Wok also recently acquired a liquor license, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be just the table that’s spinning at the end of dinner. And thank your lucky Sankara Stones there’s nothing at the Golden Wok to remind diners of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Eesh.

Golden Wok. 2755 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing. 11 a.m. – midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. Friday- Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday. (517) 333-8322.