5 Spice China Grill

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Wanting to try the newest Chinese restaurant in town, my wife, her sister and I went for an early dinner tonight at 5 Spice China Grill.  Located in the old Ocean Zen (OZ) location on South Glenstone, 5 Spice is run by the same owners as Ocean Zen.

We arrived just before 5pm (it is Friday) and found the parking lot nearly empty so snagged a spot right in front.  The parking situation at 5 Spice has not changed from the Ocean Zen days – so if it is as popular at OZ was – be prepared to have trouble finding a place to park at peak times.

Once you get a look at the menu -You will see some familiar menu items like ‘Springfield Style”  cashew chicken and General Chicken. You will also notice why 5 Spice is different than most if not all of the other Chinese restaurants in town – and that is the prices; $12 for the cashew chicken – $8 for spring rolls – $21 for orange beef.  After we saw the prices, we were hoping for something really special – especially considering the OZ connection.

We ordered lobster wontons ($7.95) as a starter, General Chicken ($13.95), Orange Beef ($20.95) and a side of mixed vegetables ($6) to share between the three of us.  5 Spice encourages ordering and sharing entrées family style (or so the little card on the table said).  We received 2 small bowls of rice to accompany our entrées.

The lobster wontons would be better called ‘lobster’ rangoon – cream cheese filled fried wonton wrappers.  We were hoping that for $8 we would actually see some lobster in the wontons – but we didn’t.  They were good – but not really any better or significantly different than a crab rangoon from almost any other Chinese place in town.  There were 5 ‘rangoons’ on the plate sitting in a nice sweet sauce and there was a little bit of salad at the end of the plate with a tasty oriental dressing.  The sauce was I think the same sweet sauce that comes with several of the dishes at OZ.

The General Chicken was not very spicy.  I thought that some of the pieces of chicken had an off flavor.  My wife suggested that perhaps it was just a combination of spices I wasn’t used to – but I’m not sure that was it.  The chicken was cooked well and was all white meat in nice big chunks.  The dish also had green beans tossed in which I thought were good.

I liked the Orange Beef better.  The sauce was one of the better orange sauces I’ve had and the beef was in nice big pieces.  I would say that the beef itself was several steps up in quality from what would be considered typical in Springfield for Chinese beef dishes – it was tender and flavorful – but then at $21 it better had been.  There were two large pieces of broccoli served with the Orange Beef.

The mixed vegetables were ok – some broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms and onions sautéed with some mild garlic.

The actual dishes the entrées were served in didn’t work that well for doing a family style meal.  The Orange Beef plate was way too big for the table, the plate the mixed vegetables were served on didn’t have any sides so when you went to spoon some out you ended up pushing vegetables onto the table.  The bowl the General Chicken was served in had one side higher than the other which made it difficult to scoop food out of if you were on the ‘high-side’.

Service was very good – my diet coke never sat empty, water refills were offered often, our food was delivered promptly and we were pleased with the friendliness of all of the staff.

No that is not a satellite dish in front of the building – if you look closely it is a really big wok (but it does look like a satellite dish). The interior of 5 Spice has had a minor facelift from the OZ days and has more Chinese-style art on the walls now.  Gone is the large fish tank – replaced with a wine rack.  Also gone is the techno music that was always nagging me in the background at OZ.  5 Spice kept the same crowded table layout as before – which is not a good thing – I do not like having to walk sideways to keep from brushing against people’s heads while navigating the dining room.

The driveway has a “Drive Thru” lane painted on it, but the menu board outside is empty so at least for now, there is no drive through service.

The food was good – but none of us thought that it was worth the prices being charged.  I’m not sure I’ll be back.

2058 South Glenstone Ave – (417) 799-0215

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