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Chinese food at its best

By Staff
CHINESE FOOD Owner Shen Li cooks Beef Lo Mein in the restaurant kitchen. The restaurant buffet is filled with more than 40 Chinese favorites. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
April 17, 2002
A serving of Shrimp and Chicken, Szechuan style. A little dab of Kung Pao Chicken. A bowl of Egg Drop Soup, with fried wontons and an egg roll on the side.
Does this sound like the perfect Chinese meal to you?
All this and more tasty delicacies can be found at Meridian's newest Chinese restaurant Grace Garden.
Opened in November by owner Shen Li, the restaurant offers more than 40 items on its hot and cold buffets with many more special orders listed on its menu.
Li, a native of Southeast China, moved to the United States 13 years ago because he valued freedom of religion.
Like many immigrants, Li first arrived in the United States by way of New York City. He worked in several restaurants there, before purchasing his own business in St. Paul, Minn.
He describes the restaurant as traditional Chinese, but with an American flair. The establishment even caters to those wanting to eat dishes lower in fat.
Chinese cooking uses little oil because of the unique shape of a wok the bowl-shaped pan used in Chinese cooking. The fast "stir fry" technique moves food around the wok quickly, coating it with oil during cooking.
More oil is required when using a traditional, flat frying pan.
Steamed mixed vegetables, with chicken, shrimp or beef are the most popular items on the diet menu.
The buffet changes daily. Li develops the menu, and with help from his chief, Zhen Dong, the dishes are prepared.
A few of Li's favorite items include: Szechuan Delicacy, hot and spicy beef and shrimp; Dragon and Phoenix, seafood in a Chinese sauce; Kung Pao Shrimp, shrimp with diced carrots, celery and peanuts; and Moo Shu Beef, cabbage, mushrooms, eggs and beef.
Li works alongside his wife, Ying Lin. They have two children and are members of Northcrest Baptist Church.
His hope for the future: "I would like to be more successful, but all things are in honor of the Lord. It makes me happy when customers say they will come back."

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