Skip to content

LET'S EAT: Every egg roll made with love at Uncle Roy’s Restaurant

With over 50 years in the Chinese food business, it’s no surprise that people call a week in advance of the holidays to try and place their orders at Midland restaurant

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are two of the biggest nights of the year for Chinese food. And just as has occurred over the past five decades, 2021 was no exception at Uncle Roy’s.

“The phones were ringing all morning, and we don’t open for lunch until 11:30 am,” says Jessica Tang, who helps run the family restaurant.

“We had people calling the week leading up to New Year’s hoping to place their orders,” says Tang.

In years past, the family-run, Chinese food staple in Midland’s downtown core had taken orders a few days before the holidays, but found that was overwhelming for everyone.

Even without advance orders, “we were crazy busy,” says Tang. “It was all hands on deck all day.”

This year, Tang ordered pizza for everyone to eat because “we needed every last egg roll and chicken ball” to fill orders.

Chinese food has been a popular order for Christmas and New Year’s Eve feasts for those that celebrate other holidays, or for those with less culinary skill, and for those whose feasts may have been eaten by dogs, like the Parker family from the 1983 film A Christmas Story. The Parker family end up at a Chinese food restaurant where they are served roast duck, which the narrator affectionately calls “Chinese Turkey."

While “Chinese Turkey” is not on the menu at Uncle Roy’s, they do serve a variety of curries, Szechuan dishes and vegetarian options to suit everyone’s tastes.

As for the most popular dish on Uncle Roy’s menu: “Our chicken balls, obviously,” says Tang.

“[Chicken Balls] are a very Western or Canadian thing. I think if you were to order that in mainland China,” Tang laughs as she says, “I think they would ask, ‘What is that?’”

Tang’s favourite dish at her family’s restaurant is chicken lo mein. “I love noodles,” says Tang. And what’s not to love about noodles that soak in all the flavour of anything you pair with them.

Tang also highly recommends the number two combination plate that offers a taste of the best sellers: an egg roll, chicken balls and chicken fried rice — all for $10.66 after taxes.

“You can’t get a burger, fries and a drink for that,” says Tang.

These are not frozen egg rolls either. The dumplings, wontons, and egg rolls have been lovingly handmade by the family matriarch, Pauline Tang, in the kitchen for years.

Now that Roy Tang, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Pauline, has stepped back from the business, Jessica and Pauline have taken on larger roles running the successful mainstay in Midland’s increasingly varied culinary scene.

“I love diversity, and I think it’s great for Midland and for me,” says Tang of the newer establishments in town that offer something different from the standard Western food diet.

“I like change and I hope for change in Midland,” says Tang.

For the last two years, there has been nothing but change for anyone in the restaurant business across Canada as they attempt to maintain service through lockdowns in the face of a global pandemic.

Tang says the labour pains have been the worst for her family’s business through the pandemic. Hiring and keeping staff during one of the most challenging times for customer-driven, public-facing businesses has been hard.

According to Statistics Canada, restaurants and bars account for over five per cent of all employers in Canadian business. By May of 2020, employment in the food service industry dropped over 55 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.

Beyond the basics of keeping employees, Tang explains that people are less forgiving than they were before the pandemic.

“If we make a mistake, patience has gone down due to COVID,” says Tang with a sigh.

There is one golden rule that all those who have served food abide by, and that is to be kind to the people that make and serve your food — that includes tipping well.

While there are a few Chinese food restaurants to choose from in the area now, back when Roy Tang was new to town, he worked at his uncle’s restaurant. Once he gained enough experience, Roy opened up his own establishment. 

Uncle Roy’s Restaurant has been serving up Szechuan and more for over half a century, and with Roy’s family continuing on in the family business, Midlanders may be eating here for another 50 years or more to come.

Check Uncle Roy’s Facebook page for up-to-date information about their hours, menu, and specials.