When James and I moved to Madison’s isthmus we started to search out the best places to eat where there was quality at a reasonable price. Since James is a fantastic cook (chef quality actually) we eat many meals at home. But for those times when we are out and about, or care not to cook it was important to find local places that we enjoyed. Wong’s Garden on Atwood Avenue was one of those always open, always tasty, always welcoming places that made for a perfect meal be it a late lunch or a Saturday night dinner when we wanted no dishes to clean up at home.
Gah and Lan Wong, a long-time married couple cooked and served some of the best Chinese food that could be bought in the city. If you ate there I am sure we can agree that even better than the food was the atmosphere of kindness that blended with the wonderful scents of cooking.
On January 6th the Wongs closed their business and decided to retire. The restaurant had been opened for 12 years, but for decades prior to that they had operated another place in southern Wisconsin.
Above and beyond the food there is another reason I loved to eat there, and encouraged others to do the same.
The quality of service and kindness that they showed to all who entered their business never changed. I watched over and over how someone would stop into place an order and Lan would offer a cup of tea while they waited for the food. After having come to know the owners over time the act of giving a cup of tea was more than just good business, it was a genuine act of demonstrating who they are as people.
That is why Gah and Lan became our friends.
I am glad they have joined us at our home for tea and conversation. As they sat around our kitchen table recently it dawned on me that James and I had not lost a great place to eat, but instead had made two friends along the path of life.