When I learned that a traditional Chinese restaurant was opening in Springfield, I was thrilled. Don’t get me wrong, I love cashew chicken just as much as the next 417-lander, but it stands in stark contrast to some of China’s traditional dishes, like Szechuan shrimp.
Corner 21 Chinese Cuisine is that traditional Chinese restaurant, and it opened this Spring at the corner of Sunshine and Fremont in central Springfield. The small white building appears to be a bit of a dive, as do many high-quality spots around that block (Queen City Deli, SocieTea, The Big Slice, etc.), but don’t let the restaurant’s exterior deter you. This food is amazing.
Yuming Han, Corner 21 head chef and co-owner, has been working in kitchens for more than 30 years, first in St. Louis and then in Springfield. Jiapeng Lu, the restaurant’s other co-owner, hasn’t been in the business as long, but is delighted to be sharing his favorite traditional dishes with the community, where he’s lived now for seven years. Lu says he saw a gap in Springfield’s dining scene and wanted to fill it. “Chinese food is more than cashew chicken,” Lu says. “There was no traditional Chinese restaurant in this city.”