A fresh look and new menu for Ocean City Chinese Restaurant

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Ocean City Chinese Restaurant, which had been closed due to damage sustained in the July 19 tornado, will reopen on September 14 with new menu items, including sushi. General manager Taylor Cao had been working on creating a new menu before the storm hit.

Taylor Cao, who assumed duties as general manager of Ocean City Chinese Restaurant in January when the establishment came under new ownership, was on the verge of unveiling a revamped “Asian fusion” menu before the July 19 tornado hit.

While the interior sustained minor damage, the front entryway was labeled a hazard, requiring the restaurant to close its doors. With clearance to the entryway again, the establishment will reopen on Sept. 14.

One of the most striking differences in the entrance is the exposed pillars, which were covered up before the tornado. The pillars were part of the structure when the building was occupied by Fidelity Saving’s Bank.

Because insurance will only pay to make the building habitable, and not cover the high cost to restore it to its former Fidelity Saving’s Bank splendor, the repairs that will be made to the facade are still being determined. The decision was made to reopen the establishment in the interim to prevent a further loss of revenue to the restaurant’s owners.

“My cousins bought the business — they were friends with the previous owners, and saw this as an opportunity for them, and I have experience managing a Thai restaurant in Davenport,” Cao, who is the spokesperson for the family, said.

Her cousin Qiang Sun and his wife Li Hao are transplants from Champaign, Illinois. The family originally hails from Shenyang Shi, Liaoning, in the Northeast part of China.

“The Chinese food culture is huge in Shenyang, and we wanted to share that with our customers,” Cao said. The previous owners ran it well and knew the customers’ taste, but we wanted to add some new stuff.”

Being closed down for nearly two months has allowed them to repaint the interior of the eatery, replace broken windows and repair the ceiling, as well as implement the new menu, which required extra certification for serving raw fish.

The restaurant, which had previously been closed on Mondays, will now be open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The lunch menu has been retained, with new goodies added, including sushi.

Cao said she hopes customers will be excited to try fresh, homemade sushi and sashimi, with the goal of ultimately opening up a sushi bar.

“A lot of people say they have to drive to Ames or Des Moines to get fresh sushi,” she said.

Other items new to the menu include Singapore noodles, corn with pine nuts, miso soup, fried green beans (with choice of meat), eggplant with garlic sauce and cumin flavored beef.

“We tried some of these recipes for a few months as specials, to see what customers liked,” she said.

Japanese-style appetizers will include edamame and seaweed salad. There is a total of 27 chef’s specials.

For more information, the restaurant, 5 W. Main St., may be reached at 641-753-8006.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com