Roxbury Lanes' Fried-Rice Revelation

West Seattle's best Chinese food is served by a bowling alley.

If you're looking for good Chinese food in the Greater West Seattle Metropolitan Area, otherwise a hotbed of fine ethnic eateries, you're all but fucked. But before the fucked, there's a but. And that but belongs to the food counter at White Center's polymorphous Roxbury Lanes, home to a bowling alley, a sports bar, and a casino called Roxy's.

Roxbury Lanes sits just south of Seattle's Southwest Roxbury Street boundary, giving it an advantage over competitors to the north in that it's not bound by blue laws concerning adult forms of entertainment. But until late summer, it had seemingly stiff competition about a mile to the southwest in Magic Lanes & Casino. The Magic, however, ended this past August, when Doug Harrell, who owned both bowling centers, pulled the plug on his lesser offspring. The plight of the kindred alleys, it could be argued, is analogous to that of The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the latter projecting a ghostly version of its former self online, where titties and kitties reign supreme.

As with the daily print newspaper industry, just because you're the last bowling alley left standing doesn't mean the foundering sport is suddenly going to start thriving. Harrell concedes as much, and has thus taken to touting Roxy's gambling, booze, and food. But whereas most bowling-alley food ranges from shitty to serviceable, Roxy's vast Asian menu, available until 4 a.m. nightly (morningly?), regularly attracts scads of takeout customers who couldn't be less interested in picking up spares or doubling down.

A plate of "Vietnam pork chops," served with eggs over-easy and a mountain of white rice, was the only dish that didn't blow us away. The chicken fried rice, however, was moist and delicious, and the General Tso's chicken perfectly fried and sweetened. A fine dish of bok choy, mushrooms, and still more white rice proved that the kitchen could also excel on the healthier end of the spectrum.

Unlike at Greenlake's Little Red Hen, whose oddball cuisine is dictated by a single culinary mastermind, Roxy's employs a bullpen by committee. Here, she who flips the burgers and breaks the eggs must also steam the rice and glaze the prawns—fitting for an outfit that's had to simultaneously consolidate and diversify to survive.

mseely@seattleweekly.com

 
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