Atomosphere: Light, airy, low-key Oriental.
Price range: Moderate. Most entrees in the $4.25 to $5.95 range. Sunday buffet for $2.95 for adults, $1.95 for children.
Credit cards: Major credit cards accepted.
Reservations: None needed.
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 10 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Special Facilities: Ample parking in the shopping center lot.
Accessible to wheelchairs. Booster seats and high chairs available.
Kam Jong, who owns the Apricot Flower Village Restaurant, says he named it after the only poem he was ever successful in learning and reciting as a schoolboy in China. In the poem, he says, a man has been walking along a dusty road for a long time and is in need of a meal. Along comes a boy.
"Boy," says the man. "Where can I get something really good to eat?"
"Right over there," says the boy. "In Apricot Flower Village."
Presumably the man in the poem would find home-cooked food in a village hut. But Jong has gone a step further. He's created a village restaurant based on the poetic fantasy.
Of course, transplanted as it is to 20th century America, the Apricot Flower Village restaurant is located in a shopping center and offers such delicacies as Peking duck, Mongolian [WORD ILLEGIBLE] concoctions and seafood creations - probably in enough quantity to feed an entire ancient Chinese village for a month or two.
Our family arrived at the restaurant early one recent Saturday evening. Light from the sunset was streaming through the sheer curtained windows for a light and sunny effect. Green potted plants dotted every conceivable ledge in the place, and white table cloths topped off with pink napkins completed an invitingly airy decor.
We were shown promptly to a table and asked if we'd like anything from the bar. Our boys, always ready for a treat, ordered Shirley Temples, which arrived with gaily painted little Chinese fans stuck into crushed ice. That got everything off to a good start.
While the boys oohed and aahed over their fans and Shirleys, we scanned the menu. But actually, my husband and I had already made up our minds based on a little black sign at the door that said. "Today's Special Peking Duck $13.95." So we ordered a round of fried wontons, at $1.25, to keep everyone happy and an order of fried shrimp with shell, $5.25, to appease our 7-year-old, and commenced to tell the waiter we'd have the duck, please.
The duck preparations took a little while, but finally along came the bird, pushed on a tea cart, its crisp skin glistening. Our waiter, wielding one of those humongous Chinese Cleavers, deftly removed the skin. Then off came the meat and finally the drum sticks of the bird, which he placed on platters while our boys watched wide-eyed. Making sure we knew how to arrange our duck, sauce, onions and pancakes, he left us to our own devices and trundled the duck carcass off to be made into soup, which we would have later.
The duck was served with a stack of a dozen light and very hot pancakes, which we started spreading with plum sauce, strips of scallions and the pieces of duck. We rolled them and had a veritable orgy of Peking duck. Anything with pancakes of course, is a great hit with children, so they enjoyed themselves through at least two pancakes each. We finally lost count of how many everyone had eaten. The duck that wasn't stuffed into the pancakes, we consumed with dishes of very good fried rice.
The shrimp, of which there were 12, were plump, juicy and fried with a garlickly, gingery sauce and made a nice contrast to the duck. About the time we were nearly stuffed, the soup arrived - a rick duck stock spiked with chunks of Chinese cabbage. Although I'm not accustomed to having my soup for dessert, it is a Chinese custom and makes a delicious conclusion to a satisfying meal.
The only problem with having stuffed ourselves with duck, was that we had no room to try any of the restaurant's other dishes, of which there are at least 60 on the menu, with such inviting names as Mom-Pul-Dow-Foo ($3.75). Five Delicious that's lobster, shrimp, pork, chicken and beef with vegetables, all for $6.25), or three Fortunes (shrimp, chicken and pork with vegetables for $4.95). Also there's something called a Chrysanthemum's Stove, rather like a Mongolian Fire Pot affair, which serves two for $12.95.
Jong says his clientele is mostly families from the surrounding neighborhood. His prices are certainly family styled. The four of us ate for $22.31, excluding tip - a bit more than the man in the poem might have paid, but reasonable, to be sure.