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‘A Hidden Gem.’ How Penns Valley’s Only Chinese Restaurant is Making a Name for Itself

Valley Wok arrived in Spring Mills to fill a void in the area’s limited dining scene and, today, the restaurant, owned by Martin Hsieh, is still the only spot to get authentic Chinese cuisine without driving to State College or Bellefonte. While Hsieh wasn’t intending to get into the restaurant business when he happened upon this opportunity, the right circumstances and his experience in the hospitality industry made it one that he couldn’t pass up. “It all started with the landlords, Leroy and Judy Shawver,” Hsieh said. “They bought a building and couldn’t find someone to establish a restaurant there and their main focus was a Chinese restaurant. … They said the community was really in dire need of a different style of food. My background, for over 20 years, has been in Chinese food, restaurants and hospitality. We met, they gave me a good offer on the lease and I took them up on it.” The endeavor, he said, would help the people that live in Spring Mills and the community, as well as the Shawvers. Still, he didn’t expect the response that the restaurant has received over the past year.

“(People) are really happy that we’re here. It’s something different and that’s closer for them,” he noted. “I said I would bring the best product to the area, but I wasn’t sure if we would get the number of customers or the feedback that we’ve been getting, which is, so far, so positive.” Valley Wok in Spring Mills on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Abby Drey Peruse the Valley Wok menu and you’ll spot popular American-Chinese favorites like General Tso’s, which Hsieh said is the most popular item on the menu. However, his personal favorites include the chicken and broccoli, and the restaurant’s brown sauce. “We have a pretty tremendous brown sauce that I’ve worked on since opening. We’ve made it better and better,” said Hsieh. “But I would recommend customers try other things, opposed to just sticking with their regular one item that they always get every time.” In the near future, customers will have even more menu options to choose from when placing their orders, as Hsieh said new menu items are coming soon, in keeping with his goal to continue upgrading the restaurant over time. New menu items will include traditional Chinese foods that he said customers likely won’t be able to find at other, regional Chinese takeaway restaurants. New menu items are expected to roll out by the summer.

It’s not just changes to the menu that Hsieh has planned. He also expects to make changes to the restaurant’s building. “We started with very limited capital. I want to make the dining experience a little more comfortable and with a somewhat classier ambiance, which you don’t find much of in Spring Mills,” he said. For those who’ve yet to make it out to Valley Work, Hsieh cautioned, “Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a small place and very, very, very rural, but it’s kind of a hidden gem to a lot of customers, if they’re not regulars already. I would say, try everything at least once. … We only have 12 tables, so it’s very limited seating right now, but the food will speak for itself. We try our best to give the best product and the best customer service.” A look inside Valley Wok in Spring Mills on Thursday, April 13, 2023. Abby Drey Overseeing Valley Wok is Hsieh’s full-time job and he commutes daily from State College to Spring Mills. However, the grind of the commute and the restaurant industry has been worth it for Hsieh, who credits the Spring Mill locals as his motivation.

“There are some really great people, great support and a great community, further out in the Valley. My goal is to serve them the best I can,” he said. “I feel food brings people together and together we are only stronger.” Valley Wok is located at 135 Railroad St., Spring Mills. The restaurant is open daily, 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Currently, Valley Wok offers dine-in and takeout, but no delivery. Takeout orders can be placed via phone, at 814-422-1020, or online, at

Source : Centre Daily

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