POSTED ON NOVEMBER 11, 2009:
Open Your Fortune Cookie
Kung Fu Kitchen hopes to chop its competition with a variety of healthy portions
Chinese cuisine continues to thrive in the food industry, the mom and pop start-ups as well as the conglomerate chains. Kung Fu Kitchen, located a little east of Memorial Drive on 21st Street, now occupies the former home of Taco Tico. While some of the dining room's décor still reflects the Southwest, there is no mistaking the cuisine.
Just walking out of the car and approaching the door of Kung Fu Kitchen, the aroma of Chinese food filled the air. Open seven days a week, Kung Fu Kitchen is a busy dine-in and carry-out establishment. A friend and I dined here one night, and the place was hopping with activity.
Orders are taken at a counter, and as soon as we walked in, we were cheerfully welcomed by a staff member. While some of the entrees are displayed in picture format by the kitchen, the menu is filled with so many more options. We took a to-go menu, and sat down to study it.
The menu did have pictures of some of the dinners, such as the Lo Mein combo, Bourbon Chicken combo, Sweet and Sour Chicken combo, Sesame Chicken, Hunan Beef, Mongolian Beef, Pepper Steak Combo, BBQ Spare Ribs combo and Chicken and Broccoli combo. These combination dinners are served with roast pork fried rice or steamed rice and an egg roll. Prices for these dinners are very reasonably, beginning at $6.45 and going up to $6.74.
This four-paneled menu includes the following: Daily Specials, Appetizers, Soups, Fried Rice, Lo Mein, Mei Fun, Egg Foo Young, Sweet and Sour, Chicken, Beef, Vegetable, Healthy Dishes, Kids' Meal and Seafood. There are also House Specials, Family Dinner Specials, Dinner Combinations and Lunch Combinations.
The weekday lunch special (from 11am-2pm) is a choice of three dishes out of 12 (such as Bourbon Chicken, Chicken with Broccoli, Butter Shrimp, Kung Pao Chicken, Egg Roll, Cheese Wonton and more) for $5.45. This comes with fried rice and soup.
The options seem endless at Kung Fu Kitchen. We decided upon a number of items to sample, taking home whatever remained. We first decided upon the Egg Roll (.99/each) and Steamed Dumplings, 8 for $4.25. We also ordered Hot and Sour Soup, a pint for $2.25; it also comes in a quart for $3.75. Fried Rice is a must--we asked for a pint of the House Special Fried Rice for $3.95. For my main meal, I ordered the Egg Foo Young ($6.95) and my friend ordered General Tso's Chicken ($8.95), which is listed as a hot and spicy dish.
The wrapper for the egg roll was firm and a little tough in a few places. The filling of Chinese cabbage and other essentials had a slightly sweet taste, barely detectable. With a little soy sauce, these were very good. We sampled the Sweet and Sour soup next. It was served hot (temperature wise) and spicy hot with a few chili pepper flakes. Little pieces of tofu, sliced mushrooms and chopped cabbage (possibly) were also in the soup.
The Steamed Dumplings were crescent shaped and filled with a finely ground pork and vegetable mixture. They were firm, but as my friend said, "had a little 'give' to it" when biting into it. The dumpling wrap was a little thicker than a wonton wrapper and somewhat opaque.
By this time our ravenous appetite was subsiding, but we still had a few dishes to sample. The House Special Fried Rice was next. It was special because it included little pieces of roast pork, chicken, shrimp, peas, carrots and onions. It was good with all the flavors blending well. It was light in texture and fresh to the taste.
Egg Foo Young is a dish prepared with beaten eggs and other items such as vegetables and meats. It is akin to a pancake, but filled with eggs and other ingredients of choice. It is often served with a gravy as this one is or with a sauce. Kung Fu Kitchen's Egg Foo Young is made with a choice of chicken, beef, shrimp, roast pork or vegetables. I chose roast pork. This "pancake" also had very finely chopped onions and carrots. This was a rich dish; it was light and airy, which happens with beaten eggs. There was a mild flavor of the pork, and with the rich brown beef gravy, the dish was even better.
Finally, we sampled General Tso's Chicken. Small pieces of tender boneless chicken were breaded and fried, then doused in a thick sauce which was not too hot and spicy -- at least not too our liking. At best, it was semi-sweet and not too terribly spicy. This came with an ample portion of plain white rice.
In fact, all dishes came in very generous portions, enough to take home for another meal. A condiment table had plenty of packaged soy sauce, hot yellow mustard sauce and fortune cookies. The kids' menu includes Sweet and Sour Pork or Chicken and Chicken Nuggets ($3.25 each).
The dining atmosphere is pleasant, very clean and welcoming. While a few southwestern pictures remain, a large hand fan with a panda bear offers a hint to Asian décor.
Kung Fu Kitchen
8720 E 21st St
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