Photo: Allison Bandura

Campus Eats: China Gourmet Brings Life Back to Dining Hall

6 mins read

Pre-COVID, the Dining Hall at Queens College was a bustling place to grab lunch, featuring food stalls from Starbucks to Halal. This may be difficult to conceptualize for students who, like me, started school after 2021, when the Dining Hall had been reduced to a wasteland of empty tables and chairs. As we return to normalcy, Queens College is working to provide more food options for students and staff. Welcome China Gourmet, the newest restaurant on campus.

China Gourmet serves a mix of traditional Chinese dishes, like Mapo Tofu, and other more Americanized dishes, like General Tso Chicken. I was drawn to China Gourmet by the neon sign that ushers you through their doors. Despite what it may seem, it’s more than just a restaurant. China Gourmet is more of a specialty convenience slash anime novelty store, with great deals on delicious food. The buffet line is front and center and throughout the store there are unique snacks, instant ramen, beverages, and knick-knacks, as well as plants for sale!

Owner Sherri Zheng wanted to create a store with lots of products, not just food. She strives to give her customers variety and lots of options, pointing out her beverage case full of drinks from Pepsi and Snapples, to unique Chinese drinks, like Ramune sodas, Wang Lao Ji Herbal Tea, and Beijing Yogurt, a thick, tart, sweetened yogurt drink they make in-house. China Gourmet recently introduced their boba menu and in celebration of the new items, there is a buy one get one 50% off deal on their boba.

Sherri Zheng owns another location in Midtown and has switched gears after 30 years to bring her delectable food to Queens College for an affordable price. The chef, Aaron, and Zheng offer a “ten dollars for three items deal” in which customers can choose any three items for ten dollars.
Additional sides can be added for three dollars extra. To celebrate their grand opening, there’s 10% off meals over ten dollars deal and a complimentary soda.

Zheng informed me that the General Tso chicken was one of their most popular dishes. Students, such as Malaya Johnson, confirmed this with rave reviews about the Tso chicken. Johnson saying it was very saucy and flavorful, also recommending the veggie egg roll, which was “crunchy with real veggies.” Another well-liked item was the beef and broccoli. Student Bo Anderson said he has ordered many times and will continue to come back for.

While I opted for the ten-dollar three-item deal, there is a different special including chicken wings, fries, and a soda also for ten dollars. For my three items, I selected the fried noodles, beef and broccoli, and General Tso chicken. The noodles were stir-fried with cabbage and onions, which I loved. They were flavorful without being overpowering or too oily. The General Tso was completely covered in thick, sweet, and tangy sauce. The chicken was perfectly fried so that it was slightly crisp yet very soft on the inside. The beef and broccoli was one of my favorite items. The beef was tender and went perfectly with the crunchy broccoli. The entire dish was exploding with umami flavor.

Student reviews were mixed on the dumplings, which are pan fried and available in chicken or vegetable. One student said they would not order the vegetable dumpling again while another said they would go back for the chicken dumplings. I preferred the chicken, but I felt that the wrapper on both was too thick and chewy for my liking.

In addition to Chinese dishes, they also offer more Americanized meals, such as crispy chicken, and French fries. After hearing all the good things people said about their crispy chicken, I gave a try. One student, Ayub Abdurafoe, said he loved their crispy chicken and his friend teased him for ordering it so often. Abdurafoe has the right idea, as the crispy chicken was juicy with a very crispy Panko coated outside. Overall, customers enjoyed their meals especially due to the price. A common consensus was that the portions were large and the meals had good value. I had leftovers myself!

China Gourmet serves delicious food and the service is just as commendable. Zheng, chef Aaron, and the rest of the staff are pleasant and eager to help their customers. Zheng is excited to be at Queens College, smiling as she said being around all the younger people make her feel young. Visit for lunch from the buffet, check out the figurines, or pick from their large ramen selection, which they will kindly heat up for you! Stop by China Gourmet Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Q-Side of the Dining Hall. They accept cash, cards and Apple Pay, Venmo, and Zelle.

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