It is probably best to deal with the big issue right at the top.
Yes, Ron and Cheng's Kitchen is an unusual name for a restaurant. Depending on your viewpoint, the choice is either brilliant (they had me at ni hao) or worrisome (for those less inclined to culinary mash-ups).
Still, points should be given for accuracy. Ron and Cheng's is exactly what the name implies — Southern and Chinese food from the same shared kitchen.
And, once you get past the novelty of it all, you’re likely to come to one conclusion: Ron and Cheng’s Kitchen is a tasty place to grab a fast lunch or a filling dinner.
The place comes with a local pedigree. Ron Lane once owned the popular Ron’s Kuntry Kitchen, once a haven for Southern food devotees before its sale to new owners a few years ago. It has since closed. Those who frequented Ron’s former business will recognize dishes and flavors at the current one.
The food is served cafeteria style. You can choose your entrees and sides, mixing-and-matching Southern and Chinese or staying within international borders. You’ll likely be encouraged in the direction of two meats and two sides, but you can pick just about any combo of entrees and appetizers and they will work it out for you.
The Southern and Chinese dishes work well together. Maybe it was the starch or the salt tying it all together, but a dish of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, sesame chicken and egg drop soup tasted perfectly natural.
Fried chicken and barbecue ribs are Southern food staples, and both are executed well. The ribs were a bit on the fatty side, but well-cooked and delicious.
The fried chicken was moist and not overcooked, with a very appealing seasoned taste to the perfectly crispy skin.
Other highlights on the ‘Ron’ side of the menu are the very cheesy macaroni and cheese (it elicited multiple ‘mmmms’ from fellow diners) and the pancake-style cornbread (crispy on the edges, with just the right amount of greasy goodness). The jury seemed split on the dressing. There was a taste to it that no one could quite place, though on the whole everyone seemed to enjoy it.
The meatloaf and lima beans also elicited mixed but mostly favorable reviews.
For those craving Chinese, both the sesame chicken and orange chicken were hits. The pieces were moist and perfectly cooked, and the sauce was plentiful but not overwhelming. The egg rolls, lo mein noodles and egg drop soup were standard fare. Considering the amount of leftover sauce available from the entrees, the steamed rice seemed a better choice than the fried, which was a little dry.
In addition to the items available out front, you can also order from the Chinese menu. It contains most of the dishes familiar to Chinese takeout fans, and even tosses in a Pad Thai dish and a handful of diet selections (no oil, light on the sauce).
For dessert, you can’t go wrong with either the banana pudding or the peach cobbler. Both were excellent, though the edge goes to the cobbler when it’s fresh and warm.
Top it all off with a clean facility and fast, courteous service and the result is an appealing — if somewhat unusual — addition to Macon’s list of eateries.
RON AND CHENG'S KITCHEN
Address: 120 Tom Hill Sr. Blvd., Suite 102, Macon
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Price: Entrees $5 to $10, sides, appetizers, desserts and soups $1.10 to $4.35
Payment: Cash, credit or debit
Kids’ menu: No
Noise level: Moderate
Health rating: 100