Friday, October 15, 2010

Kim's Oriental

Sesame chicken (Won Oriental)

When I first got to Penn, I complained about the cost of Chinese food. I was used to $5 orders that could feed small families, so when I had to pay $8 for an order of sesame chicken (from Won Oriental if it matters), I was not only perplexed, but veritably annoyed. Yes, it tasted exactly as it should have, crispy breading, deliciously sauced, but on a fundamental level, I felt ripped off. Seriously. Then something magnificent happened, I found Yue Kee and Kim's Oriental, two places that would fill my desire of cheap Americanized Chinese at a price I was more accustomed to, located within a block of each other.

Kim's is basically the same thing as Yue Kee to me. They both do certain dishes better than the other, for example... Yue Kee takes it for 乾炒牛河 (beef chow fun) and broccoli chicken, Kim's does pretty much every sauce + chicken better. One way or another, they're equal in my eyes when it comes down to cheap Chinese food, it just depends on what I want to eat that day, or if it's raining and where I'm located.

Partial menu (Kim's Oriental)

Like I said, Kim's is solid when it comes to pricing. Check that shit out, nothing on their menu tops $5. Even taking into consideration that their portions might not be on the same order as the behemoths of NYC takeout, it scales accordingly. So one way or another, Kim's is a decent value.

Mapo tofu (Kim's Oriental Truck)

The first thing I ever ordered from their truck was mapo tofu. I don't know what possessed me to go with a non-meat order, but I did. Sinfully cheap (I think it was like $3.50), it was decent.

Tofu and... sauce

Except it wasn't really what I expected when I order mapo tofu. I usually think Szechuan style tofu and pork, swimming in a pool of red hot chili oil... not a sauce based concoction with carrots? I dunno, Yue Kee fucked this dish up something fierce too, so maybe it's just different interpretations. It was definitely okay, nothing offensive, but I don't know that I'd ever order it again. Or maybe I would if I only had $3.50 in my pocket.

Sesame tofu (Kim's Oriental)

Their sesame tofu was also pretty good. Again, coming in at $3.75, this dish is super cheap. Drenched in a deceptively sweet and thick clear sauce, it was pretty much as much win as you can pack in a vegetarian dish. The tofu was soft in the center, with a delicately crisp skin that held its own in the barrage of sauce. I like my rice with meat... so I probably won't get this again in the near future, but still, it was definitely pretty good if you're into that kinda thing.

Sesame chicken (Kim's Oriental)

Transitioning from that, it's the same thing but with chicken. The sesame chicken is $4.25, so a bit 'pricey' by Kim's standards. They're really hit or miss on this dish actually. If you go one day, you'll be given a crapton of chicken fried to perfection, just crunchy enough to provide surface area for sauce, yet still tender. On other days, you might find that you have chicken fried to oblivion, with a veritable crunch where there shouldn't be crunch. Eh, I'm indifferent. For the price, their servings are pretty generous, and they're good more times than not, so I'll take my chances.

General Tso's (Kim's Oriental)

For me though, the end all be all point of judgment usually lies with General Tso's. They call it 'Grandfather Chicken,' so don't be surprised when you see it missing from the menu. I don't know that I'd say their version is of particular excellence, but it's certainly satisfactory. The sauce is actually different from the sesame chicken's (it's the same as the bright reddish orange one as seen in Won Oriental's). Powerful, but not overwhelming would be appropriate to describe it. The chicken is just like the sesame version's, can be great, can be good, can be over fried at times. Basically, a perfectly average General Tso's, but when you consider the fact that it's from the back of a truck, and it's only $4, it instantly becomes incredible.

Hm, this post seems overly long compared to most of the junk that I write, so I'll offer up a quick summary. Kim's Oriental fills basically the same niche that Yue Kee does for me. While Yue Kee does noodles infinitely better (seriously, the beef chow fun at Kim's is utter fail), Kim's is pretty nifty when it comes to any sort of fried chicken coated with sauce... orange, sweet and sour, sesame, grandfather... they're all pretty damn good. So if you're actually reading this blog as a quality source of information (ha!), then my opinion is this, if you have no clue what you want, then go to whichever is closer to you. It really doesn't matter. They're both pretty good.

11 comments:

Rodzilla said...

the first picture of the sesame chicken is the perfect shade of appetizing orange. I prefer my general tsos a deeper red.

And that is how I judge Americanized Chinese.

Nicholas said...

Rodzilla - but are you willing to pay 2x the cost for that shade of orange? There are way more variables at play aside from the tint of the sauce :)

Sherry said...

haha their menu board hasn't changed at all :P that's funny

Rodzilla said...

I'll have to give that one a maybe. I'm almost always quality over quantity, but when neither option is really quality. Hmmmm.

Nicholas said...

Sherry - don't fix what ain't broke right!? I go way too much, the girl always asks if I want sweet and sour or sesame chicken now... ~ugh.

Rodzilla - I can respect that, but I'll always go quantity over quality when quality is decent. A small amount of something phenomenal is about useless to me if it's not filling, lest we forget the primary function of food is energy and not quality.

camissonia said...

I'm slightly discombobulated. Sounds like you're in Philly attending U Penn now, or is this merely a culinary diversion? Btw, nothing beats grub from a food truck.

Nicholas said...

camissonia - unfortunately Taiwan is actually the culinary diversion in my life. In truth, I'm a FT student (yes, currently at Penn). I do love me some food truck food though, so I don't really mind Penn so much since they have so many :D

thoughtfulplate said...

I love that old-schooled menu board. This restaurant got my name too. :)

Nicholas said...

thoughtfulplate/kim - indeed they did. Yue Kee's menu is even more bootleg. I don't have a good photo of that one though.

Sherry said...

haha yea she's pretty good with faces! she did the same with me and eggplant with beef in garlic sauce :P

Anonymous said...

Apparently Americans think that Chinese food isn't worth 7.25, but a Chipotle burrito is? Seriously, what kind of business can survive on $4.25 an order?

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