My mother was in the mood for Chinese food last week, and we hadn’t been to Le’s Chinese Restaurant since they had a second location in Jackson years ago. The original Le’s is still in Pioneer, so we drove up the hill to pick up dinner on April 14.
I looked at the latest menu from last August on the Yelp website, which had the most updated photo of the entire menu that I could find. When I ordered one of the family dinners, the woman on the phone told me that the family dinners were only available for three or more people, though the menu said it was for two or more people. The woman on the phone had some difficulty hearing my questions (though I figured out why later), but when all was said and done, I ordered the Family Dinner C for three people.
Once my mother and I drove into the restaurant parking lot, we saw one man walking to his car with a bag of food, but no other cars were parked in front of the restaurant. When we entered, we found that only the lobby was open. The main dining room was blocked both by tables and a large plastic sheet from the ceiling to the tables across the width of the lobby. There was a plastic “door” above the bottom of the center table so you could get your food and pay with a minimum of contact. A sign on the plastic sheet said that food was only available for takeout.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a bell on the table that we could ring, but after a couple of minutes of standing around a young woman who was sitting in one of the booths in the dining room looked over and noticed us. She sounded like the woman I talked to on the phone, and she asked if we were there to pick up an order. My mother said we were, and the woman said okay. She didn’t get up, but instead yelled into the back of the restaurant and went back to looking at her smartphone. Now I understood why she was having a problem paying attention to my questions.
A minute later, a man came up and asked if we were there to pick up. He had two white plastic bags filled with four square paper boxes and several other Styrofoam boxes. We got the bags, paid for our meal through the plastic “door,” and were on our way in about three minutes.
Once we got home, we found there were four entrées that came with Family Dinner C, which was in line with what I read on the menu photo: broccoli beef, chow mein with vegetables, sweet and sour prawns, and pineapple chicken.
But that wasn’t all. We received three egg rolls, three triangles of foil-wrapped chicken, and fried prawns as appetizers. We received a small lidded cup of wonton sauce and several packets of soy sauce. There was a large lidded cup of wonton soup. And we received three fortune cookies that were the standard, plastic-wrapped fortune cookies you receive at any Chinese restaurant.
My mother dished out the soup, split up the appetizers, and took out portions of each entrée that had to be small so we could fit everything on our plate. We started with the soup, and we immediately saw a marked difference in quality between Le’s and other Chinese restaurants we’ve eaten at.
Specifically, we could see large pieces of vegetables and one large dumpling in the center. The soup had a vegetable broth with large pieces of carrots, broccoli, and sliced zucchini. We even found plenty of edamame beans. The broth itself was watery but still had a mild vegetable flavor, and we discovered the dumpling was filled with ground chicken.
Once we finished with the soup, we found the high quality of food extended to the appetizers and the entrées. The breading on the egg rolls was flakier. The broccoli florets and slices of zucchini in the broccoli beef were crisp but not hard. The beef strips themselves were lean and easy to eat. And we were pleased to taste fresh pineapple chunks in the pineapple chicken.
We had enough food for three meals, and the food was about as tasty on the 16th and 18th as we did during our first meal, though obviously microwaving takes away from the freshness a bit. In sum, my mother and I agree that the Chinese food we had from Le’s is the best we’ve had in the county.
You can probably see our green light shining in your eyes. The price for our meal (really three meals) was a little over $41.
Want to Try Them?
Le’s Chinese Restaurant is at 24887 Highway 88 in Pioneer, and if you’re going east on Highway 88, you’ll find the restaurant on the left side of the highway. You can find their most recent menu on the Yelp website but be aware that there may be some variations from that menu that you’ll only discover when you call to order.
Le’s Chinese Restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and closed on Sundays and Monday. The restaurant is only open for take-out as of this writing. If you have questions and/or ready to order, give them a call at 209-295-7000.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.