Panda Kitchen in Hillsboro is definitely a family affair.
Zheng Jiang cooks in the kitchen. His wife, Ivy, runs the front of the popular Chinese restaurant. Their children, Ethan, 10, and Evelyn, 6, help out as well — as anyone who’s been to the restaurant outside of school hours knows.
Zheng’s mother and sister lend a hand too.
The family has owned the restaurant for three years. They rent the building from its owner, whom the city has been trying to find to make repairs.
Ivy said her family lived in Brooklyn, New York, but her husband’s family lived in Kansas. So that’s where they relocated.
She prefers Kansas to New York.
“Everyone is so nice, so kind,” she said. “Many people support (our) restaurant.”
The family’s restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. It’s closed Mondays so the family has time to shop for ingredients for the food they serve, including at Costco in Wichita.
“We work too hard,” Ivy admitted.
She’d like to go to school to get a better grasp on speaking English, but it’s hard to get away from the restaurant.
“Maybe this year I can go to school,” she said as her mother-in-law tidied tables, her husband worked in the back, and Ethan checked out the last customer — Montel Stewart — at the register.
Stewart is a graduate assistant coach from Florida for the Tabor College basketball team. He eats at Panda Kitchen once or twice a week and also gets takeout.
He has enjoyed getting to know the family.
“It’s really good food for a reasonable price,” he said.
Black pepper chicken, crab rangoon and rice noodles are among the most popular items, Ivy said.
The buffet is all-you-can-eat when customers dine there. Panda Kitchen also offers takeout food charged by the pint.
Hillsboro is a nice town for their business, Ivy said.
“It’s quiet and safe,” she said.