Monday, September 7, 2009

Chester Chinese Restaurant and Sushi Bar Stands Out For Friendly Atmosphere and Diverse Menu

Formosa. It’s what Taiwan, which is located in East Asia, was first called when a Dutch traveler on a Portuguese ship found it. He shouted, “Iiha Formosa,” which means, “beautiful island.” And when eating at the Formosa Chinese Restaurant and Sushi Bar in the Chester Shopping Mall, one can also distinguish it as being beautifully simplistic as a Chinese Restaurant, with cozy red booths, pink flowers resting atop of clean white table cloths, and a pleasant yellow wall with scrolls and a not too ornate bronzed picture of workers pulling a cart.

“We just [changed the layout] about a year ago,” co-owner, Amy Ling says, “We changed it from top to bottom.”

Originally having a monochromatic look—the walls were white, the ceiling was white, and even the table clothes were white—Ling wanted to change things up a bit and add a little flavor to the room similar to the inviting flavor of the menu, which was also just revamped about a year ago.

“We changed the carpet to a wood floor,” Ling says, proud of the new design, “We changed the white color to the light color. We changed the lights with a little red and black…My opinion was before that white was always the best thing. But after I changed the colors, I loved it. It pops out really great.”

The white color scheme was actually the original design of Formosa when it first opened in the early 80s and stayed that way until quite recently.

“We [her and her brother, James Cao] took it over from an older couple, a nice couple, in, I think, 1995,” Ling says, “We were working for them a couple days a week. We knew the customers, and we loved doing the food. Even fifteen years later I still love doing the food.”

And the customers love eating the food, too, which ranges from traditional American Chinese—such as egg rolls, Lo Mein, and boneless spare ribs—to other items that you probably wouldn’t see in your normal neighborhood Chinese restaurant, like Tilapia Filet, Chirashi Sushi, which is 18 pieces of assorted fish on rice, and even something called the “Chester Roll,” which is sliced tuna on top of cucumber avocado and tobigo, which are fish eggs.

“When we took over,” Ling says, “it was just Chinese. But probably eight years ago, we changed it to a Chinese and Sushi Bar.”

The menu is also good for those with a tight budget, as there are both small and large lunch and dinner items on the menu, with small ranging in the low five dollar range, and large more in the ten dollar range.

“The price is very, very reasonable [for this area],” Ling says, “You can bring your kids and your family. Even the little baby is fine because it’s family style.” Family style meaning that portions can be divided amongst the family because of their large size.

And Ling knows a lot about families, being that a majority of hers is right here in the area.

“My mom’s here, my brother’s here, my brother’s wife and her two kids are here, my kids are here,” Ling says about living in Chester, “I like this area. I’ve been working here for a long, long time and there are just great people here. It’s a great area.”


Formosa Chinese Restaurant and Sushi Bar
Where: 79 West Main Street, RT. 24, Chester N.J.

Phone: 908-879-4848

Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 am-10 pm, Saturday-Sunday: 12 pm-10 pm

Cuisine: Chinese and Japanese
Liquor: BYOB

Payment: All credit cards accepted

Price range: appetizers, $4.95 to $9.95; sushi rolls, $7.95 to $24.95; lunch menu entrees
(choice of Wonton, egg drop, or hot & sour soup included), $5.25 to $6.96; house specialties $9.95 to $27.95.

Dress: casual

Atmosphere: Warm and inviting atmosphere with very comfortable décor and lighting

Delivery: no

Catering: Yes

Takeout: Yes

Parking: Parking Lot

Owners: Amy Ling and James Cao

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