I get a lot of people asking me what the best Chinese food in Dayton is. Until today, I would recommend Flying Tiger in Fairborn.
Flying Tiger has fantastic Chinese food. It’s food is always good, always quality, and always served promptly. In the dozens of times I’ve been there, I’ve never had a bad time. Ever. It’s the place we’ve always gone on Christmas Eve, and it’s the place you want to go when you have 12 people on a Saturday at 5:30 PM. Good luck getting into TGIF.
I have nothing but good things to say about Flying Tiger. But CJ Chan’s is, simply, a step above.
Some background: I was born and raised on the outskirts of Toronto. My family and extended family have toured Toronto for the best Chinese food joints, specifically Cantonese. I’ve had my fair share of crappy places, as well as superlative experiences. So, if you’re looking for a place that is or is not genuinely Cantonese? I’m your guy.
In the Dayton area, you basically have Cantonese-influenced American Chinese food. General Tso’s isn’t named for a famous general; kung pao isn’t named after a martial artist; beef and broccoli is beef and broccoli; but none of these dishes are traditional Cantonese or Chinese food. Not even close. In fact, you’re hard-pressed even finding the simplest of Cantonese food staples — barbecue pork — around here. (It’s actually not difficult to make, but the spice combo is tricky and the coloring is hard to mimic.)
But CJ Chan is different.
It serves the traditional American Chinese food, but it is clearly influenced by Cantonese cooking. My parents found out why: the chef is from Hong Kong. So the food is hot, quickly-fried at an extremely high temperature, and served crisp and delicious, unlike what you usually get from other places: a sauce-soaked mess. For example, the beef-and-broccoli dish has the expected beef and broccoli, with carrots and water chestnuts; however, it does not have a “brown” sauce, but, instead, soy sauce mixed with corn starch — which is what “brown” sauce is supposed to be, //but isn’t//.
I had the Singapore Mai Fun, a soft, rice noodle dish with shrimp, the aforementioned BBQ pork, and enough spicy heat to make you eat it nice and slow. My father had the House Special Lo Mein, which came with soft noodles that were perfectly fried //in soy sauce//, and not soaked in //brown sauce//.
The kicker is that the place also serves sushi. Honest, good, old-fashioned sushi. My wife loved it, and so will you. But the real clincher is this: the gyoza aen’t gyoza, and the shumai isn’t shumai.
Why is this important? Any good Cantonese boy will tell you that the two most important things to get at dim sum are har-gow (shrimp dumplings) and siu-mai (pork dumplings). Period. We used to wait an extra 15 minutes just to get these when I was younger. Well, at CJ Chan’s, the gyoza are har-gow, and the shumai are siu-mai. That means that there is honest-to the-Lord dim sum dishes on the menu, if you know where to find them.
Fresh. Genuine. Not bloody soaked in sauce. You can find the real deal Chinese food at CJ Chan’s, as well as real deal Japanese sushi as well. And it’s bloody reasonable, price-wise. Located between Irving and Shroyer on Wilmington Pike, the restaurant holds about 30-35 people. My hope is, with this preview, you — the reader — will check it out and spread the word.
Fri – Sat: 10:30AM–10:30PM