210 N Main St.
Dayton, OH 45402
For a very long time, Downtown Dayton was served by one dive Chinese place: China Royal, in the corner of the Biltmore Tower along North Main Street. After that spot closed, the place was vacant for awhile before a new spot, Liu Garden, replaced it earlier this year. Under the ownership of a new family, this spot is in practice very similar to its predecessor — a Chinese buffet with a robust takeout operation. But this one has longer hours and a bigger variety of foods. Still, the food is pretty unremarkable.
The food here is typical Chinese takeout, but some of those have a surprising take. Some of the things I tried:
- Pepper Steak: A bit of heat on this one, but still filled with stir fried veggies and plenty of sauce.
- Bourbon Chicken: A popular Chinese item, this one is definitely actually made with bourbon. You can taste it with the sauce. Good.
- General Tso’s Chicken: Everybody’s favorite American Chinese dish. A little spicy but so, so sweet. And when it sits under the heat lamp for too long it loses that wonderful crunch. Disappointing.
- Egg Foo Young: Different from your typical buffet fare, this egg-based dish comes in little patties, very crispy on the outside. Great!
- Teriyaki Beef: Great for that heavy sweet sauce, but similar to the Pepper steak in too many ways. It’s a larger problem with the dishes here. The “meat in thick, brown too-sweet sauce” options start to blend together.
- Stuffed Shrimp: Creative. This shrimp is served kind of like a dumpling, the shrimp keeps its crunch but pretty good.
- Fried Rice: A ton of veggies in this thick and wonderful fried rice. Good by itself, but odds are you’ll sop it up with some of that good sauce.
- Sweet & Sour Chicken: The fried chicken is good, and the sauce sweet. Not a ton of sour here.
The spot maintains essentially the same look as its predecessor. Which is to say, it feels a bit dated. It could use a fresh coat of paint on the inside, maybe some new furniture and a little bit more clean of a feel inside. Otherwise it’s hard to tell what about the place is different from the one before it.
Downtown Dayton has seen the trend to urbanization that many other cities have seen, and so it has more restaurants coming into downtown. There hasn’t been a lot of competition for the Chinese shop at the corner of First and Main in downtown Dayton but that’s not going to be the case forever. I certainly hope to see this one strive to differentiate itself.
- The buffet is open later than many other downtown shops, so this is one of few really fulfilling dinner options in this part of downtown.
- Also, the place delivers.
- There’s a lot of good meat dishes on the menu, but not so much if you’re a vegetarian.