Like many families, ours has a meal tradition for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. On Christmas Eve, we have pizza. On New Year’s Eve, we eat at a Chinese restaurant. On New Year’s Eve in 2020, we decided to get a take-out dinner at the Ione Chinese Restaurant, which is in the Ione Plaza shopping center at 335 Preston Ave.

Before I ordered, I went on the restaurant’s Facebook page, which has a link to their menu on the site. The dinner menu has two family dinner specials that give you a choice of entrée, and we decided to order Dinner B that includes fried wontons, two egg rolls, two fried prawns, and egg flower soup as appetizers. For the entrée, we choose vegetable chow mein, broccoli beef, and steamed rice.

We called ahead and were told that our food would be ready in about 20 minutes. We arrived 25 minutes later, and we were able to find the restaurant easily. It’s on the right side of the main building in the Plaza, and the Ione Plaza Market is on the left side of that building.

Upon entering the restaurant, we could only enter the small lobby area because the dining room beyond was blocked by tables. A friendly employee was at the front podium and my mother told him her name. He gave my mother the total, and here we discovered the site was incorrect.

That is, the price on the site is listed at $9.95 per person, which was a big factor in our decision to drive to Ione and pick up our dinner. The price we actually paid was $29.99. We didn’t have any qualms about paying the extra money, but if you go there thinking you’ll get a deal then you should call and ask for the price of the food you want before you place your order.

Eggrolls, fried wonton, fried prawns

Our Meal

Each part of the entrée was in its own separate Styrofoam box, and all the boxes and lidded cups made for a stuffed (and heavy) plastic bag we carried out of the restaurant. After we arrived home and started removing the boxes from the bag, we discovered one of the boxes was leaking.

Though none of the boxes were broken, we eventually discovered that the chow mein in the box at the bottom of the bag had a lot of sauce. What’s more, the weight of the boxes forced the sauce out, though not so much as to spill into the car or all over my mother as she carried the meal inside the house.

The crispy appetizers were safe in their own Styrofoam box at the top of the bag. The lidded large cup of soup was neatly wedged between the boxes and the edge of the bag so the cup stayed put. Another small bag contained two fortune cookies in their wrappers, a small lidded cup of wonton sauce, and a few small bags of soy sauce.

Our food was still quite warm as we put the soup in bowls and our food on plates. We started with the soup, which had small chunks of chicken and tofu as well as the bits of egg and scallions within the chicken broth. We both found the soup tasty and with just the right amount of salt.

Egg flower soup

The appetizer plate of prawns, wontons, and egg rolls had cooled enough so we could eat them without burning our tongues. All three of the appetizers were crispy but not tough, and the sweet wonton sauce was not only good for dipping our wontons and egg rolls into, but also as a topping for our steamed rice.

Our broccoli beef had firm broccoli that wasn’t tough and strips of lean beef that were easy to chew. The chow mein was a more curious experience. Looking at the noodles, it looked like standard chow mein with noodles, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, and scallions.

As we started eating the noodles, my mother and I both commented that they were the longest we had ever seen. As I chewed the noodles, I realized they were thicker and a bit harder to eat than chow mein noodles I’ve eaten at other Asian restaurants. It made me wonder if the noodles were hand made in the restaurant, not purchased from another source.

The Verdict

The food at Ione Chinese Restaurant checks all the boxes for a good meal. One of those boxes also includes leftovers, as we ate the leftover food on January 2. Most of it, anyway. The amount of rice for two people will probably last you three nights.

That means we bring out our green light, with the caveat that what you pay may be more than what you expect. We paid $29.99 for our meal, but we got a lot of food out of it.

Want to Try Them?

Ione Chinese Restaurant is open daily for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and for dinner from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. You can get updated information on their Facebook page and view their menu on the website. When you’re ready to order, call them at 209-274-2646.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.