Monday, September 6, 2010
Kim Tran's Restaurant
I bragged about it to her because I'd been there earlier in the week with Lee and really enjoyed it.
Kim Tran's features Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine at reasonable prices. I had the General Tso's chicken with fried rice, an egg roll, and hot and sour soup for $6.75 when I went with Lee. I was really pleased with the hot and sour soup, which as you know from my previous posts is the Chinese restaurant litmus test for me. Good hot and sour soup is so hard to come by that when I find it, I almost always know I'll like the restaurant. Kim Tran's hot and sour soup had a unique flavor - pleasantly spicy with a touch of sweetness I had never tasted before. You had to ask for the fried noodles, which annoyed me, but they didn't charge for them, and on the day Lee and I went, they were warm and crisp and light.
The egg roll was good - a nicely thick crust and stuffed mostly with a heavier cabbage - not much beyond the cabbage - but still pleasant. The General Tso's was good as well - not knock your socks off good - but the chicken was lightly battered and the sauce sweet and tangy. The fried rice was the weakest part of the offering, lacking anything but a token few vegetables for color. Overall, the experience with Lee was worth bragging to Kandie that I had found a really good Chinese restaurant.
I think it's never good to raise other people's expectations.
On the day Kandie and I went, just three days later, the experience was much less appetizing. The hot and sour soup, of which Kandie is also a connoisseur, was still good. We had to ask for the fried noodles, which still annoyed me. But the noodles came out cold, stale, and oily. I should have known right then that things were not going to get better.
I ordered the sesame chicken (pictured above, $6.25) just to get some variation - General Tso's and sesame are two of my favorites, along with Sezchuan beef. Let's just say the rice and egg roll were the same - the rice leaving something to be desired, the egg roll fine. But my sesame chicken was awful. It was overdone, heavily coated with breading, and chewy like someone had sliced up a school kid's eraser and tossed it with sesame sauce. The sauce was good, but served over such an excuse for fried chicken was just pathetic.
So the jury has withdrawn it's finding of excellence for Kim Tran's. A third visit is in order to finalize the decision. And I may have to revise my rule of the hot and sour soup. It appears that excellent hot and sour soup is a necessary, but not sufficient indicator of quality in a Chinese restaurant.