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China Palace

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After spending a lengthy spell in successful recovery from a serious Chinese food addiction, the Daigle clan relapsed several years ago when they discovered China Palace in Eagle. It all began with an innocent little hole in the wall in Hawaii called Aiea Chop Suey, where monthly visits became weekly stops and weekly stops turned into daily cravings. We were saved only by an out-of-state move and a dearth of decent Chinese food joints. Enter China Palace, and then, our fall from the Chinese food wagon.

In full force, we're usually a to-go order with special won ton soup, crab rangoon, two A combos and two C combos. By the time we're done, my mom's dining room table looks like it's been bombed by takeout containers and sweet and sour sauce. We're much more civilized when we actually take a booth in the strip-mall restaurant, which is decked out in dark cherry-colored wood and rose-colored, marbled Formica.

Without doubt a family favorite from the China Palace kitchen is the special won ton soup. Its meat-based broth is a touch peppery and it would be the highlight of the dish if it weren't for all the other goodies swimming in the bowl, like delicate steamed pork dumplings (a.k.a., the special won tons), shrimp, slices of chicken and sweet pork, and big chunks of vegetables like celery, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, bok choy, carrots and snow peas. One bowl should be enough for two or three people (it's certainly big enough), but we Daigles have started enforcing a strict one-bowl-per-person rule after a near fatal chopstick duel over the final won ton.

I'm faithful to the combo C, myself, with a cup of house soup to start, pork fried rice, an egg roll, sweet and sour chicken and Mongolian beef. Though I've never been enthusiastic about deep-fried meat soggy with thick sauce, China Palace's is always hot and crispy with a drizzle of just enough sauce. My only beef is the beef. It's chock full of thinly sliced tender pieces of beef and lots of onions (which is great if you're out on a not-so-hot date), and the dish is on the sweeter side. My only request would be that the Mongolian bite back like it's "hot and spicy" menu star promises. But I've also been around the China Palace block enough times to know that for those times when I'm feeling the need for a kick in the mouth, I order Szechuan chicken (and two beers because it does bite back).

If it's only a glowing endorsement that will get you out to Eagle for food, then you have my permission to get driving.

--Rachael Daigle's fortune cookies say she will lead a rich and successful life.

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