Botetourt gets its first sitdown Chinese restaurant

DALEVILLE – Botetourt County’s only dine-in Chinese restaurant, CL Asia, offers patrons a splendid buffet for lunch. Diners can enjoy a variety of favorites such as General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice and other delectable fare. Lunch specials are also available, along with take out.

The establishment, which opened in June, is located at Botetourt Commons in Daleville.

Yuan Chen, 22, is the young owner of the new CL Asia, a Chinese restaurant located in Botetourt Commons. It opened in June. Photo by Anita Firebaugh
Yuan Chen, 22, is the young owner of the new CL Asia, a Chinese restaurant located in Botetourt Commons. It opened in June. Photo by Anita Firebaugh

The new restaurant seats 49 and owner Yuan Chen offers an extensive dinner menu featuring chef’s suggestions such as Peking Duck, which is duckling roasted in a special sauce and served with pancakes, spring onions and plum sauce, and Dragon & Phoenix, which is jumbo shrimp with fresh vegetables in wine sauce along with General Tso’s Chicken.

CL Asia offers up a nice atmosphere, with the windows tastefully blocked from pedestrian traffic to give diners privacy. Carpeting and traditional decorations help keep sounds to a minimum so that the meal can be enjoyed without excess noise.

A Chinese buffet at lunch at the new CL Asia, located in Botetourt Commons, gives Daleville diners a new option for lunch. The buffet is available from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.  Tuesday  through Saturday, and from 12 p.m to 2 p.m. on Sunday, when the buffet carries sushi. The dinner menu is available until 10 p.m. Photo by Anita Firebaugh
A Chinese buffet at lunch at the new CL Asia, located in Botetourt Commons, gives Daleville diners a new option for lunch. The buffet is available from 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 12 p.m to 2 p.m. on Sunday, when the buffet carries sushi. The dinner menu is available until 10 p.m. Photo by Anita Firebaugh

But it is Chen that patrons may want to speak with, if only to hear his story. The young man, 22, came to America in 2005 when he was not yet an adult. He moved to Virginia because his father had been here for almost 15 years, having come to help an uncle run a restaurant. His mother followed her husband in 2005 and they established their own restaurant in the Smith Mountain Lake area.

“I have a lot of family in America right now,” Chen said.

Chen, meanwhile, studied the restaurant business in China until he could follow his father to a new land. He initially thought he would become a chef, but found “kitchen work too tiring,” he said. He then switched to restaurant management.

When he came to America he discovered that the educational processes differed greatly. Though he had been enrolled in China in courses similar to America’s community colleges, language barriers and other factors meant he could not find similar education here. Instead, he enrolled in high school, where he was placed in the ninth grade. He graduated from Franklin County High School in 2009 at the age of 21, he said.

He then decided to open his own restaurant and began looking for a location within one hour of his Smith Mountain Lake home.

Upon learning that Daleville had no dine-in Chinese restaurant, he knew he had found his site. He pushed to open in June and he continues to refine operations. Most recently he obtained his ABC license and he has changed his hours to close on Mondays. He currently has six employees and has a sign in the window advertising for additional help.

His father, he said, has helped him tremendously as he has learned to run his own establishment. He’s also ramping up the social networking, creating a Facebook page and accessing iPod applications and otherwise using technology to his advantage.

His opening month has been okay, he said. Seats are not yet full at dinner but he says the warm weather has been an issue. “People eat more Chinese in winter,” he said. Many people have told him it’s simply too hot to eat a full meal right now.

He laughed when asked about the name of his restaurant.  “Many people have mispronounced it,” he said. “I have heard some call it Clasia.”

It is pronounced “C. L. Asia,” he said. The C is for his father’s last name, Chen, and the L is for his mother’s family, Lin.

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