Spicy eggplant and garlic (representation). Souce: Flickr by hermitsmoores.

Contemplating dinner-in but looking for an epicurean pivot from leftover turkey, stuffing, potatoes and Brussel sprouts? Consider China House.

Chef/owner Alex Cheng offers the broadest menu in the area: No. 195 is General Tso’s Chicken and Shrimp, one of the chef’s specials. The Chinese menu is vegetable based. While many dishes are cooked in oil in a wok at a high heat, you can also find a selection of steamed dishes as well. Vegetarians will find many choices.

Cheng grew up at the restaurant, literally. Long time fans will remember both Alex and his brother Tom in their youth helping their mother or doing homework. Alex was a keen observer of his mother, who managed the operation for decades and ran an efficient kitchen. He learned early about customer engagement and observing their interests.

Both Cheng brothers graduated from Kent County High School and went on to other pursuits. Tom is in the food distribution business. Alex returned and has been running the business for nearly two decades.

There are many reasons that China House was voted “Best Chinese Restaurant” in What’s Up Eastern Shore? 2020’s readers’ survey. One is Chang’s effort to promote interesting dishes to curious customers. He always has an excellent wine pairing suggestion.

Several years ago, Alex introduced me to his spicy Chinese eggplant and garlic sauce. It continues to be one of my favorites. Chinese eggplants are the long and thin variety. Eggplants are botanically classified as a berry and a relative of the tomato and potato. The Chinese domesticated eggplants from a small green bitter berry full of seeds into the larger, longer purple eggplant represented by the now-famous emoji.

Cheng prepares the eggplant in hot oil with garlic sauce. He infuses it with hot peppers. Chinese eggplants absorb the preparation well. The result is a deliciously spicy taste. And yes, you will experience that type of heat that warms the body and the brain, but does not burn the tongue. If you want some protein, ask for shredded beef or pork.

Make a dining event out of it. Ask Alex Cheng for a wine pairing recommendation. He sent me to a Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon that truly advanced the meal.

With such a broad menu, you can put together a wonderful spread at home to satisfy all interests.

China House is located in the Kent Plaza Shopping Center, 711 Washington Avenue, Chestertown, Md. China House offers carryout only at this time due to COVID-19 precautions. The restaurant operates 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (closing time change due to COVID-19). Orders can be placed by phone: 410-778-3939. Your order is usually ready in 10 minutes.