St. Louis, Mo.
We'd planned this event a couple of months back. Angel's birthday was earlier in the week, we were celebrating it this weekend. We made reservations in a large suburb and the state's ninth largest city, St. Charles.
St. Chuck was the home of Missouri's first capitol from 1821 to 1826. North and west of St. Louis on the Missouri River, it was considered the last 'civilized' stop for Lewis and Clark's westward exploration in 1804.
It was originally founded decades earlier by French Canadian fur traders. Fur trading used to be a big thing, almost a common form of currency. That is, until PETA wiped out the fur business.
Those of you that know the St. Louis area are looking at the above address for the Lucky China and scratching your heads at this point. The place is nowhere near St. Charles, no matter where you start.
It's located in what is known as 'South County' (St. Louis County) across the Meramec River from Arnold. It's not only in South County, it's near the southernmost point of South County.
So our drive from Hillsboro first went north, then east, then we headed north and west for around forty five more minutes.
Yes there are lots of places to eat closer to, along the way and in St. Charles. There are lots of Chinese places along that more direct route as well.
But it was her birthday. You don't argue with that.
The plan was simple. Grab some Chinese takeout, go to the hotel, plug in the portable DVD player and start binge watching, in this case season 8 of '24'.
Then pop open the food and lay it out, buffet style and tada! You have a party.
Angel loves her job as a dog trainer and boarder. She runs the business out of our property so she never really gets to leave work. She's usually busy from seven in the morning until around nine at night, seven days a week. So these getaways allow her to really relax and get away from it for a while. Her assistant and Adam manage the dogs at home and are fully capable of handling things. We've done this before, we'll do it again.
We came across this place on a previous getaway, back in December, for my birthday. It was near where we were staying then. It was that good.
By appearance it is a typical Chinese takeout place in a shopping center. Even when you step inside, it's about the same. Above the counter, large photos of various dishes, behind the counter a young Chinese man and at one of the tables a lone Chinese school-aged girl sat coloring or playing with a toy pulled from a nearby laundry basket full of stuffed animals. It was apparently a first-generation Chinese-American family establishment. Various animated conversations in Chinese poured out from the kitchen.
The plan was to order a couple of entrees, some fried rice, a couple of egg rolls and two orders of
We waited for a while, long enough to get the impression that this was made to order, not pre-made and sitting in a steamer in the back. It was a beautiful day though, one of the first nice days of the year. I didn't even need a jacket outside. I wandered around the parking lot and watched a brother and tall, lanky sister bounce a basketball to each other in front of a shoe store.
When I went back in Angel was sitting at a table with her new smartphone, swiping through an app of some kind.
The young man called our order and we hit the road for the long trek north.
When we do this we get a specific room type. Sort of high end that not every place offers. The room is usually on the first floor, with a large TV, a king bed, a microwave and small fridge. Sure lots of places have those things, but not many have an in-room Jacuzzi. Yeah, I spoil my lady! On this occasion it was the Country Inn on old Main street in Historic St. Charles.
Main Street is made up of cobblestone/brick streets and many of the restored and maintained buildings dating back to the early 1800's. A beautiful area, but we weren't there to sight-see this time. Once Angel got into the room, I don't think she left it until we departed on Sunday morning. I ventured out for coffee at the reception area and muffins and bacon from the complimentary breakfast bar.
We got to the room, plugged in the portable DVD player, fired up some Jack Bauer. "Everybody down!!!"
We laid out the food, picked and chose.
The Rangoons, the star of the meal, were once again, perfect. Crispy all over, not doughy on the bottom. Slightly sweet, but light and tasty. Actual krab chunks were evident. We'd asked for two orders of these, some for the meal, some for snack/dessert.
The rice was perfectly cooked, not too salty. The entrees were an instant hit. Sesame chicken is often very sweet, Lucky's a little less so. Small chicken nuggets, still moist and also crispy. The veggies in the steak and peppers were also perfectly cooked, and large. The beef was tender, unlike at a lot of places where it can have the consistency of a bicycle tire.
The egg rolls were smaller than some places, but the flavors inside them was very well balanced.
We gorged ourselves in no time, Jack's body count was barely even in the low teens by that point.
We revisited the Rangoons a few times, once, with evening coffee.
We brought the leftovers home, Lunch.
For some reason, several reasons probably, this unassuming and generic looking little Chinese take-out place is a cut or two above the rest. Yes, it is that good. There is quality of the food, the prep and even the presentation. Yes, it was worth adding about an hour of driving to our little weekend getaway. The price is what you might expect from a place like this, thirty something dollars for our two-meal-plus feast. A real bargain.
Our anniversary is coming up in June and if not before then, we will be going back. Highly recommended!