LET’S EAT: Every spring bun prepared with love in Uncle Roy’s Restaurant

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With over 50 years of experience in the Chinese grocery store, it’s no surprise people call a week before the holidays to place their orders at Midland Restaurant

Christmas and New Years Eve are two of the biggest nights of the year for Chinese food. And just as it has for the past five decades, Uncle Roy’s 2021 was no exception.

“The phones rang all morning and we didn’t open for lunch until 11:30,” says Jessica Tang, who runs the family restaurant.

“We had people calling in the week before New Year’s Day to place their orders,” says Tang.

Over the past few years, the family-run Chinese staple in downtown Midland had been taking orders a few days before the holidays, but found it was overwhelming for everyone.

Even without pre-orders, “we were incredibly busy,” says Tang. “Everyone was on deck all day.”

This year Tang ordered pizza for everyone to eat because “we needed every last spring bun and chicken ball” to fill the orders.

Chinese food is a popular Christmas and New Year celebration order for those celebrating other holidays, or for those with less culinary skills and for those whose banquet may have been dog-eaten, like the Parker family from movie A. from 1983 Christmas story. The Parker family ends up in a Chinese restaurant where they are served roast duck, which the narrator affectionately calls “Chinese Turkey”.

While “Chinese Turkey” isn’t on Uncle Roy’s menu, they serve a variety of curries, Szechuan dishes, and vegetarian dishes to suit all tastes.

The most popular dish on Uncle Roy’s menu: “Our chicken balls, of course,” says Tang.

“[Chicken Balls] are a very western or Canadian thing. I think if you were to order this from mainland China, “laughs Tang as she says,” I think you would ask, ‘What is this?’ “

Tang’s favorite dish at her family’s restaurant is chicken lo mein. “I love noodles,” says Tang. And what’s not to love about noodles that soak up the full flavor of whatever you combine with them.

Tang also highly recommends combo plate number two, which offers a taste of the best sellers: an spring roll, chicken balls, and fried chicken rice – all for $ 10.66 after-tax.

“You don’t get a burger, fries and a drink for that,” says Tang.

These aren’t frozen spring rolls either. The dumplings, wontons and spring rolls have been lovingly handcrafted in the kitchen by the family matriarch Pauline Tang for years.

After Roy Tang, who owns the restaurant with his wife Pauline, retired from the business, Jessica and Pauline took on larger roles to lead the successful mainstay in Midland’s increasingly diverse culinary scene.

“I love diversity, and I think it’s great for Midland and me,” Tang says of the newer eateries in town that offer something different from the usual Western fare.

“I like change and I hope for change in Midland,” says Tang.

In the past two years, nothing has changed for anyone in the restaurant business across Canada other than trying to maintain service through lockdowns in the face of a global pandemic.

Tang says labor was worst for her family’s business during the pandemic. Hiring and retaining employees in one of the toughest times for customer-centric, public-access businesses has been difficult.

According to Statistics Canada, restaurants and bars make up over five percent of all employers in Canadian business. By May 2020, employment in the catering industry had fallen by over 55 percent compared to the level before the pandemic.

Aside from the basics of employee retention, Tang explains that people are less lenient than they were before the pandemic.

“If we make a mistake, patience has waned due to COVID,” says Tang with a sigh.

There is one golden rule that everyone who has served food obeys and that is to be kind to the people who prepare and serve your food – including giving good tips.

Although there are some Chinese restaurants in the area today, when Roy Tang was new in town he worked at his uncle’s restaurant. After gaining enough experience, Roy opened his own establishment.

Uncle Roy’s Restaurant has served Szechuan and beyond for over half a century, and with Roy’s family continuing to run the family business, Midlanders may eat here for 50 years or more.

Check Uncle Roy’s Facebook page for current information on opening times, menu and special offers.


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