Don’t Let the Name Fool You: A Review of North China in Gatlinburg

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Don't Let the Name Fool You: A Review of North China in Gatlinburg

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Howdy Partner, and Welcome to North China!

Howdy folks, Grinning Gary here from Gatlinburg! Now, y’all know I love sussin’ out all the hidden gems and heapin’ helpings of fun this mountain town has to offer, and that includes chowin’ down on some mighty fine food. But let me tell you, navigating the world of Gatlinburg eats can be a real hootenanny! You’ve got fancy fine-dining establishments nestled right next to down-home cafes slingin’ up some serious comfort food.

Then there’s North China Chinese Restaurant, a Gatlinburg institution practically since folks started hike-in’ for moonshine back in the day! For years, it’s been a beacon for folks hankerin’ for some familiar Chinese-American favorites like Kung Pao chicken and chow mein. They say folks lined up longer than a queue for the Gatlinburg Space Needle (bless its retro heart) to get a taste of  North China’s legendary sesame chicken back in the day!

North China Chinese Restaurant Gatlinburg

But hold on there, partner! The online reviews about this place are about as wild as a runaway raccoon on a trash night! Some folks rave about the portions and the spice levels, saying they could practically hear fireworks goin’ off in their taste buds after a bite of their Kung Pao. Others leave comments that sound more like a grumpy grizzly woke up on the wrong side of the Smokies, complainin’ about bland food or slow service.

Well, that just piqued my curiosity – what’s the real story behind North China Chinese Restaurant? I decided to grab my chopsticks and head on over for a firsthand taste test. So, buckle up, buttercups, and get ready for a down-home Gatlinburg review of North China Chinese Restaurant!

Sizing Up the Menu at North China

Alright folks, now that we’ve whet our appetites with a little history of  North China Chinese Restaurant, let’s get down to brass tacks – the food! I cracked open the menu with the same excitement a kid rips into a present on Christmas mornin’. Now, I gotta warn ya, it’s a classic Chinese-American spread, so you won’t find any Mongolian fire pots or dan dan noodles here. But that ain’t necessarily a bad thing sometimes! Sometimes you just gotta hankerin’ for some good ol’ General Tso’s chicken, and  North China delivers the goods.

Sure, they’ve got all the usual suspects – sweet and sour chicken, broccoli beef, egg foo young – but what really caught my eye was the inclusion of a few regional specialties. Now, I ain’t talkin’ about some super fancy stuff mind you, but dishes you don’t see on every Chinese-American menu in Gatlinburg. For instance, they have Kung Pao chicken, a Sichuan dish known for its explosive blend of peanuts, chilies, and vegetables. My mouth was already waterin’ just thinkin’ about it! They also offered Sichuan dumplings, another tempting option for those who like a little heat with their meal.

Prices seemed fair for the portion sizes, which from what I could see on neighboring tables, were definitely on the generous side. Just a heads-up though, there is an automatic gratuity added to the bill, so factor that in when you’re totin’ up the final cost. Also,  North China is a cash-only establishment, so hit the ATM before you mosey on over. But hey, sometimes a little cash-only situation adds to the charm, right? It takes you back to a simpler time!

Savoring the Flavors at North China

Alright, folks, tummy time! I opted for the Kung Pao chicken, and let me tell you, it was a flavor fiesta in my mouth! Just like a good country music throwdown, this dish had a little bit of everything goin’ on. The chicken was nice and tender, perfectly cooked through without being dry. The veggies added a delightful crunch, and the sauce – oh, the sauce! – was a symphony of sweet, savory, and spicy. It packed a punch, but not enough to leave you whimperin’ for a glass of milk. It was just the right amount of heat to make your taste buds do a happy dance.

Now, I gotta confess, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the portion size at North China. Some online reviews mentioned skimpy plates, but that sure wasn’t my experience. My Kung Pao chicken was a heaping helping, enough to satisfy even the hungriest hiker after a long trek through the Smokies. And let me tell you, the price for this deliciousness was more than fair. You won’t break the bank enjoying a meal at North China.

Here’s a quick tip, though: Be sure to ask about the spice level before you order, especially if you have a low tolerance for heat. Like I said, the Kung Pao had a kick, but it was manageable. If you’re a spice lightweight, you might want to ask for it on the milder side.

Service with a Smile (Maybe) at North China

Alright, folks, let’s talk service at North China Chinese Restaurant. Now, it wasn’t exactly a scene straight out of a Gatlinburg hospitality handbook. I wouldn’t say the staff was unfriendly, mind you. But they weren’t sunshine and rainbows either. There wasn’t a whole lot of friendly chit-chat or that feeling of them going the extra mile. It felt a bit like they were just going through the motions, taking orders and delivering food without much fuss.

Catching the server’s attention for refills or anything else could be a bit of a challenge at times. They seemed a tad busy, but North China wasn’t exactly packed when I visited either. So, it wasn’t entirely clear what the holdup was.

Overall, the service at North China was adequate, but not exactly something to write home about. If you’re looking for a place with a warm and fuzzy atmosphere and super attentive wait staff, this might not be your best bet.

The Billfold Blues at North China

Alright, chow time is over, and it’s time to settle the bill at North China Chinese Restaurant. Here’s where things get a little interesting, folks. The prices at North China are fair for the portion sizes you get. My Kung Pao chicken was a mountain of deliciousness, and the price tag definitely reflected that. You won’t break the bank enjoying a meal here, that’s for sure.

But here’s the thing to watch out for – North China is a cash-only establishment. That’s right, folks, no plastic accepted here! So, be sure to hit the ATM before you mosey on over. This might catch some folks off guard, especially with the prevalence of credit cards these days.

Now, some folks might see this as a bit of a hassle, but I kinda like it in a strange way. It takes you back to a simpler time, you know? A time before swiping plastic was the norm. Just somethin’ to keep in mind when you’re planning your visit to North China. They do add an automatic gratuity to the bill, so factor that in when you’re totin’ up the final cost.

Editors note: The restaurant does accept cards now. However, bring cash just in case as it has been widely reported they prefer cash!

The Verdict: A Mixed Bag at North China

Alright, folks, we’ve chowed down, discussed the service, and settled the bill at North China Chinese Restaurant. So, what’s the final verdict? Well, as the saying goes, if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his butt walkin’!** North China** is a bit of a mixed bag, and it really depends on what you’re lookin’ for in a dining experience.

Let’s talk food first. If you’re hankerin’ for some familiar Chinese-American favorites,  North China delivers. Their Kung Pao chicken was mighty tasty, with a good balance of sweet, savory, and spicy. The portions were generous, and the prices were fair. They even have a few regional specialties on the menu, like Kung Pao chicken and Sichuan dumplings, which is a nice touch for those who want to explore something a little different.

But here’s the thing – the service at North China wasn’t exactly top-notch. The staff wasn’t rude by any means, but they weren’t exactly goin’ out of their way to make you feel welcome either. And the cash-only policy might catch some folks off guard.

So, here’s the bottom line: If you’re lookin’ for a fancy night out with attentive service, North China might not be your best bet. But if you’re in the mood for some decent Chinese food at a fair price and don’t mind bringin’ cash, then give it a shot! Just don’t expect a warm fuzzy welcome or service with a smile.

Here’s a bonus tip for ya: If you’re lookin’ for a more local experience when it comes to Chinese food, there are a few hidden gems in Gatlinburg that serve up some mighty fine dishes. I’ll be sure to share those recommendations in another hootenanny!

Chow Down Decisions at North China

Well, folks, that’s all she wrote for my down-home Gatlinburg review of North China Chinese Restaurant! I hope you enjoyed this little hootenanny, and that it helps you decide whether North China is the right place for your next Chinese food fix.

Remember,  North China is a bit of a mixed bag. The food is decent, especially if you’re craving classic Chinese-American dishes. The portions are generous, and the prices are fair. They even offer a few interesting regional specialties. But the service can be a tad lackluster, and the cash-only policy might catch some folks off guard.

So, if you’re lookin’ for a fancy night out with all the frills, this ain’t it, partner. But if you’re in the mood for some good ol’ Chinese comfort food at a fair price, then North China is worth considerin’. Just be sure to bring cash and don’t expect a red-carpet welcome.

Hey, there are a ton of other great eats in Gatlinburg, and I’m on a mission to explore them all! So, stay tuned for more down-home Gatlinburg restaurant reviews from yours truly, Grinning Gary!

Bonus Tip: More Chinese Food Gems in Gatlinburg

As I promised, folks, here’s a bonus tip for ya! If you’re lookin’ for a more local experience when it comes to Chinese food, there are a few hidden gems in Gatlinburg that serve up some mighty fine dishes. Now, I can’t say for certain if they’ll knock your socks off like some of the firecracker dishes you might find in a big city Chinatown, but they’re definitely worth checkin’ out!

One place that keeps popping up on the radar is Fusion Cafe. It’s a little further out in Pigeon Forge, but folks rave about their authentic Chinese cuisine. They apparently have a wider selection of dishes beyond the typical Chinese-American fare, including hand-pulled noodles and regional specialties from different parts of China. Sounds mighty interestin’, don’t it?

Another spot that keeps gettin’ mentioned is New China. It’s a family-run joint with a loyal local following. They focus on fresh ingredients and traditional cooking methods, and apparently, their portions are legendary! Just keep in mind, New China** might be a bit on the no-frills side, but if you’re all about the food, it could be a hidden gem waitin’ to be discovered.

Of course, this is just a taste of what Gatlinburg has to offer when it comes to Chinese food. There are other restaurants out there waitin’ to be explored, and I’m on a mission to find them all! So, stay tuned for more recommendations in future hootenannies, folks. Until next time, happy eatin’!

Author

  • Grinning Gary McLaughlin

    Grinning Gary McLaughlin is Gatlinburg’s own treasure trove of tales, a local historian with a knack for weaving humor into the fabric of everyday life in the Smoky Mountains. With roots running deep in the heart of Tennessee, Gary’s passion for his hometown shines through in his engaging and light-hearted narratives. Whether he’s sharing insider tips on hidden gems or recounting hilarious anecdotes from around town, Gary’s writing makes every reader feel like a welcomed friend, ready to explore the wonders of Gatlinburg with a smile.

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