Have you ever craved a particular flavor where you could almost taste it by just imagining it? Well, that is me on a daily basis. I close my eyes and think, “What do my taste buds crave today”? Then my mouth starts watering for just that flavor and nothing else will do. Last weekend while watching a scene in a movie where they were eating at a Chinese restaurant—my companion immediately turned to me and said, “Let’s go have Chinese after the movie” and since I was thinking the same thing, I said “okay”!

Great Wall Mandarin & Szechwan Cuisine was the perfect choice. Mandarin style is a delight to the eye as well as the palate. In Mandarin style cooking, presentation is key. Whether making a delicious Peking duck or simply a bit of mu Shu, it has to be done with style. This area of Chinese cuisine, style and flavor are intricately linked. Then, on the other hand Szechwan cuisine is famous for its many flavors, and almost every dish has its own unique taste. It is typically a very spicy type of Chinese food as many of the dishes incorporate a lot of garlic and chili peppers.  In Szechwan food, a single flavor is rarely used, compound flavors are most common. By blending different seasonings dozens of different sauces can be made each with its own flavor, including creamy, salty, sweet and sour, spicy and hot—well you get the gist.

Most Chinese restaurants serve a complimentary bowl of crispy wonton strips with sweet & sour sauce plus a dollop of hot mustard while you are waiting for your meal and Great Wall was no exception. Just remember it is called hot mustard for a reason, so be mindful of your taste buds and use it gingerly as your sinuses will thank you later! Besides the wontons, Great wall serves you hot tea—and with snow still on the road, it was the perfect drink. But, make no mistake fancy Polynesian cocktails are the house specialty from a sweet Singapore Sling or Fuzzy Navel to a refreshing Mai Tai or Pina Colada with a Blue Hawaiian, Zombie, Planter’s Punch and Scorpion rounding out the list and prices starting at only $5.25.

We ordered Mu Shu Shrimp, Shredded Pork Szechwan, Honey Walnut Shrimp and Chicken Lo Mein. Sweet, spicy and a little bit sour—all our taste bud cravings met! The owner, Kim came over to our table and suggested the Cho-Cho appetizer which we added as well. Now we had all our meats covered—shrimp, beef, pork and chicken.

The cho-cho was a real treat—four sticks of sweetly marinated beef surrounding a small pot of fire! The presentation was so pretty and we enjoyed having the fire pot on the table even after we finished, giving us a little heat and ambiance!

Mu Shu is a typical dish made of shrimp, green onions, mushrooms and scrambled eggs all rolled into tortillas and served with hoisin sauce (dark and thick consistency with a very strong, salty and slightly sweet flavor similar to BBQ sauce). I would call this love at first bite! The flavor combination was perfect and the sauce put it over the top.

The shredded pork lunch combination was served with a fried wonton, egg roll, wonton soup and steamed rice all for only $6.50. This is a signature dish of Szechwan cuisine and delivers a sophisticated and addictive taste: tangy, spicy, sweet and sour. Excellent choice. The rice had the perfect consistency, the soup was delicious and savory and the egg roll was very yummy (crispy, full of fresh vegetables and meat).

The main difference between chow mein and lo mein is that different methods are used to make these noodles. Chow Mein noodles are stir- fried to crispness, while lo mein noodles are boiled to softness. Lots of flavorful noodles wrapped around deliciously seasoned strips of chicken and veggies—great texture, fresh, delicious and very healthy.

I saved the best for last, the honey walnut shrimp—amazingly flavored tempura-battered large prawns, fried to a golden brown, smothered in the most fabulous glazed honey walnut sauce, topped with caramelized walnuts; just divine. Beautifully presented, creamy and nutty combined with crispy fresh-tasting shrimp.  A very tasty classic dish; sweet, savory, easy on the palate and packed with flavor. The deliciously sweet sauce mixed in perfectly to create a pleasing flavor and I think we all agreed, the honey walnut shrimp was a wonderful experience.

Great Wall Chinese Restaurant features traditional, authentic, fresh, made to order, healthy Chinese food using no MSG. They offer dine-in, fast efficient take-out, daily lunch special served 11am-2:30pm, early bird dinner served 11am-5pm, family dinners, fancy cocktails, beer, wine, Boba milk tea, Thai iced tea and smoothies with wonderful flavors like honeydew, mango, vanilla latte and red velvet; Mmmm!  If you are looking for a restaurant to have a birthday or holiday party or if you are having a meeting, Great Wall has a banquet room that seats up to 40 people.

So, if you enjoy traditional Chinese cuisine expertly prepared and served in a nice restaurant, decorated in a traditional Chinese theme and has been voted AV’s Best Chinese restaurant year after year for over 20 years, plan on dining at the Great Wall. Located at 2001 W. Ave J in Lancaster, (661) 942-3048 and open Sunday – Thursday 11am-9pm; Friday and Saturday till 10pm. Check the full menu online at www.greatwalllancaster.com. Bon Appetit!

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