Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday.
Price range: Appetizers from 75 cents to $4; soups from 75 cents to $3.75; entrees average $5.75 to $6.75; family dinners start at $13 for two.
Atmosphere: Pleasant, relaxed and casual.
Reservations: A good idea on weekends.
Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
Special facilities: High chairs and booster seats; parking in shopping center lot; sidewalk one step up.
Now and then our family comes across a restaurant that is doing just about everything right. Then we wonder what took us so long to find it.
China Paradise in Vienna gets high marks in all departments as a good spot for Family Out dining. The food is well prepared, nice to look at, tasty and reasonable. Service is faultless.
And, while the decor is the typical red-flocked suburban variety, it has some nice touches. In fact, the children loved the hanging lanterns and oriental music. The art work enthralled them, too, especially the golden dragon plaques on the walls and the florescent ceiling light panels painted with flowers and branches.
With the arrival of the menu came a pot of tea, which provided good refreshment while making the all-important decisions. The menu is predictably lengthy, ranging from hors d'oeuvres to family dinners. We stuck to the specialities listed on a sheet pasted inside the front page of the menu and we weren't disappointed.
We ordered three entrees to split between the four of us. From a truly tempting selection, we picked sizzling rice triple fresh, $6.75, lemon chicken, $6.25 and yu-shiang broccoli, $5.75. The menu instructed us to specify whether we wanted "little hot, medium hot or very hot."
To start we had pork in garlic sauce, $3.50, which was a big hit. Thin slices of pork, marbled with fat, were doused with a soy-based sauce and topped with chopped fresh garlic. The waiter double-checked with us to make sure we understood about the garlic. No matter. Even the 11-year-old loved it and her formidable preteen-age appetite probably could have polished off more.
Fate intervened, however, with the arrival of our entrees. The sizzling rice triple fresh was mixed with crisp, fresh brocolli, carrots and water chestnuts and bits of chicken, shrimp and scallops, all in a light silky sauce. It was a pretty dish and tasted as good as it looked.
Lemon chicken fared as well, a nice contrast in textures and flavors. The pieces of white meat were wrapped around a thin sliver of ham, dipped in batter, fried to a crispy turn and served in pale, sweet lemon sauce.
Yu-shiang brocolli turned out to be fresh vegetables stir-fried with strips of pork and served in a rich brown sauce. Ordered medium hot, the dish was too spicy for the children, even with plain rice added. For the adults, however, it was just right.
A nice surprise came at the end of the meal. Along with the usual fortune cookies, the waiter brought colas for the kids and apricot brandy for us, as well as steaming hot towels.
The bill came to $29.22, including tax and tip, for the four of us.