I tried Chung King with my wife last night. I had awaited its opening with nervous anticipation. Trust me when I say, it is all that. Its opening is a big deal for me, because as much as I love touting Philadelphia's charms compared to NYC, NYC still has the more stunning variety of ethnic cuisines.
Chung King changes that. Its menu is not entirely Szechuan: there are many northern Chinese dishes as well. The one cuisine not conspicuously present is Cantonese, which is what I hoped.
Our waitress was both sweet and spoke relatively good English. Everything we had was unique, though the northern Chinese dishes were familiar to me from a now-defunct northern Chinese restaurant in Minnesota.
Everything was good-to-wonderful, and the beautiful aspect of the menu is that unlike Szechuan
Tasty House (which I love by the way), it has depth. My wife and I eagerly anticipate returning not to re-order the dishes we got, but to try so many others.
I am sure certain things will get better: our meal was slow to arrive by Chinese standards, for example. Unusually, many of the dishes were not piping hot (in some ways this is good because I can never eat Chinese food hot from the kitchen anyway). Our order was confused at one point and our complimentary desserts arrived before our Dan Dan noodles.
But what we got for our 40 dollars was not a meal, it was an education. I am not sure how many people will appreciate just how special Chung King is, even by NYC standards (there are no more than 2 really authentic Szechuan restaurants in Manhattan for example, and no northern Chinese ones that I have heard of).
You definitely need an open mind to enjoy the place. The waiters and staff look and act different, more like it is a family's kitchen than a restaurant. The food tastes home-made, if your mother was from Jin Lin province, that is!
I think one cannot appreciate this restaurant in less than five visits or more, which I think is the highest commplement I can pay the place.
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