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China Palace

Update: China Palace has closed.

In a word: Palacious.

The specs: #0141
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews by Mike Basford, Ultimate Madison Bar Tour; comments at Chowhound and Yelp.

JM ate the sesame shrimp with a lemonade.
John ate the chicken moo shu and an egg roll with tea.
Nichole ate the Singapore rice noodles with tea.
We split an order of crab rangoon.
The bill was $36, or $12/person, plus tip.
JM, John and Nichole all gave China Palace an A (see our grading rubric).

Latest China Palace news and reviews

China Palace

The positive buzz about China Palace (see links above) is, as far as we're concerned, completely deserved. As amateur as we are (note we still order and guiltily enjoy crab rangoon), we know when a dish is packed with fresh ingredients and made with consummate skill, and this is it.

Crab rangoon

JM commented (and Nichole concurred) that China Palace is a much better use of the space than Bluefin was. They've spruced up the insides too. It looks better now that the faux medieval dining hall style (see CJ's) has made way for bright gold and red decorations.

Smoke tea duck

Nichole warmed up with the Singapore rice noodles. A curry sauce danced lightly over never-been-frozen shrimp, as well as beef, both egg and chicken, and just-crisp-enough vegetables.

Our server was awesome - after reading Chris Martell's review, we wonder if it was the same graceful fellow who wrapped up John's moo shu chicken in a few deft flicks of a spoon at tableside.

Moo shu

Straight A's and full bellies. We'll be back.


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I'd go as far to say as this is the best restaurant in all of Madison!

I went there recently as was thoroughly underwhelmed. Szechuan seafood soup for two was downright insipid. If you imagine unseasoned boiled water with egg whites and a bit of shredded pollock, you've got the idea. An off dish, perhaps, or a botched preparation? The chicken kung pao was served at slightly above body temperature, though the flavor wasn't bad — fairly average for any low end Chinese restaurant. Alongside that, we had Ma Po Tofu which, though visually appealing, had little flavor other than the heat of chilis. No discernible garlic, ginger ... anything.

My dining partner had been there before and didn't recall it being so dismal. Not sure what's up.

I would never have heard of this place without this site, and that would have been a small tragedy. I wasn't adventurous enough to try anything made out of kidneys or beef stomach (prefering instead to stick with what our waitress referred to as the "American menu") but as far as I'm concerned, this is quite possibly the best Chinese food in Madison.

As an aside, reading the welcome/restaurant introduction on the first page of the menu is downright hilarious.

Do you know why China Palace's phone number does not work?

China Palace is closed!!! Forever!

No way, is this for real?! I love China Palace! Last time we were in there I impelled them to start delivering, citing at least myself as a guaranteed once-a-week source of income, but in response the owner muttered something about a seasonal menu and the difficulty of finding a delivery driver (huh?). It'd be a pretty big loss if the restaurant gone, though not unpredictable based on their lack of business sense.

It's the curse of the Honor Roll. *weeps*

Naw, you have two curses. The Double-A Curse, and the Honor Roll Curse. This is an example of the former.

You're right. This is that rare iteration, the Triple-A curse. This just sucks!

I dunno why it is that all the good affordable restaurants close and all the bad ones thrive here, but it must have something to do with coerced mediocrity of our city's Midwest libertarian values. Don't suck too much, but don't get too good, or they'll get ya.

Could be. I also suspect it's hard to find the right combo of culinary and business skills in the same person/team.

Actually that sounds like a far more reasonable perspective.

I'm sad that this place closed, but not suprised. The service was TERRIBLE if you were not Asian (we noticed on every occasion we visited that other tables were served much faster and waited on more attentively than ourselves and the other non-Asian diners there), in consisent (sometimes we had several waiters in succession, never to see our original waiter again after we first sat down) and it took FOVEVER to get our food, let alone our bill. Let's hope the new Asian Buffet that opened up there can do better.

I'll miss the Beef Wide Noodle and other really great dishes I've had there.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



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