Dirty Dining: Top China eatery shut down 3 days

Posted at 11:39 PM, Feb 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 02:01:57-05

Jennifer Anderson loves Chinese food.

"The wonton soup we would get and the lo mein and vegetables or something like that," Anderson told ABC Action News anchor Wendy Ryan.

But Anderson was thinking twice about stepping into Top China restaurant at 2525 E. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa after hearing state inspectors shut it down for three days from Jan. 12 to Jan. 14.

The inspectors reported they saw more than 65 live roaches crawling all over the kitchen, including near the front counter, cook's line, reach-in cooler, prep table, soda machine, and sink.

"There's no way I would go in there after hearing this," Anderson said.

But the Action News I-Team uncovered even more issues.

During a follow-up inspection just two weeks later, state inspectors discovered more live roaches and dishes being washed in the same sink with raw chicken being prepared.

A stop sale was immediately ordered, including an order to throw out all 40 pounds of chicken.

When Ryan went inside Top China, she met Dewel Wang at the front counter.

Wang said he was the food manager on duty and was there when state inspectors closed the restaurant's doors.

"Did you know? Did you see the roaches? Did you know you had a problem?" Ryan asked Wang.

"Yeah, when he coming to see the restaurant, I (was) in the restaurant," Wang said, referring to the state inspector.

"So you saw them too?" Ryan asked. "Yes," Wang said.

Wang said restaurant employees cleaned the kitchen thoroughly and reopened when inspectors approved the conditions.

But inspection issues at Top China restaurant date back before January, with 127 violations written up in the last 10 months - from March last year to January. During that period, other written violations included no certified food safety manager on duty, ribs and noodles more than 24 hours old and not marked with a date, and chicken at 46 degrees and egg rolls at 48 degrees, when they should be at 41 degrees or below in the cooler.

And Wang said Top China's owner could better answer the rest of Ryan's questions.

"He can email me or call me, if that's possible?" Ryan asked.

"OK no problem. I can talk to him maybe to call you or something," Wang said.

But Anderson won't take a chance. She's going elsewhere for her next Chinese meal.

"The roaches are bad enough, but the chicken thing? That's terrible!" Anderson said.

Ryan made several attempts to contact the owner of Top China, Guane, but her multiple calls were not returned.