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Captain King - looking for Kim

  • j

I read with interest Jim's piece about Kim the roving restauranteur, and I am very eager to get myself to this Captain king in Elmhurst to sample the Taiwanese breakfast with bread. How can I get there on the subway? I am somewhat more Queens-impaired than I'd like.

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  1. "I am somewhat more Queens-impaired than I'd like"

    I'm reaching for a poker joke, but never mind.

    take R train to Elmhurst Avenue. It's right there.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Just returned from a "family outing" to Captian King. Impressive, delicious, wonderful.. I fully recommend the beef wrapped in the scallion pancake, the pork shank in Master Sauce(I think), the eggs and shrimp and, certainly, the sesame bread. Everything was thoughtfully prepared and intensely flavorful.

      As usual.. thanks, Jim.

      1. re: Eric R.

        Went to Captain King this week for a delicious meal. A couple of duds, definitely, but that's to be expected in a blind order of 7 dishes. The dumplings were not quite as awe-inspiring as Jim led me to believe -- the shells were crisp and light, certainly, but the filling was blander than I expected. It might have been that they arrived after a couple of spicy dishes. The shells were certainly beautiful, and served as fresh as you could wish.

        The wine chicken is startlingly excellent. I've always viewed the cold Shanghai dishes as palate cleansers, a nice foil for soup dumplings and pork shoulder, but this was something else. The chicken fat flavor melted in with a vague hint of something sherryish. I could eat pounds of this stuff.

        Best dish: shredded spicy beef with watercress. Delectable marinated strips of beef, crunch fresh watercress, and a slow burn that creeps up on you.

        Dry squid in spicy sauce: blah. Rubbery squid in boring chili preparation.

        Pork shank: pure heaven. So heavy I could only manage a few bites.

        Scallion pancakes wrapped around beef: I have to dissent from everyone else on this dish. It has hoisin sauce in it too, sort of a Peking duck on steroids. Like a Montecristo, one of those dishes that combines two already delicious, rich ingredients and produces something inedibly heavy.

        The pork broth served with every meal is good but dispensable. Perhaps this is the palate cleanser.

        I'm definitely going back.

        -- Patrick

        1. re: Patrick A.

          "The dumplings were not quite as awe-inspiring as Jim led me to believe -- the shells were crisp and light, certainly, but the filling was blander than I expected. It might have been that they arrived after a couple of spicy dishes. The shells were certainly beautiful, and served as fresh as you could wish."

          I'm assuming you're talking about the fried dumplings...in which case you may be used to the Sichuan style. These are more northern style, less socko-flavored.

          If I didn't warn against the dried squid dishes in my article, I should have. It's my understanding that Chinese gourmands really dig the rubbery texture. But in spite of an open mind, I can't get into it.

          Glad you tried the cold dishes. They're very unfamiliar for most people, and Kim's just totally blows away everyone else. His drunken crab (off-menu...you've got to call ahead) is downright exquisite.

          I STRONGLY disagree with you about the soup. I find it subtle, unflashy, and supremely delicious. Not so if you're looking for spice or great complexity, but I try hard to appreciate stuff on its own merits.

          In general, you seem to prefer light, spicy cooking...some of their dishes fit that bill better than others.

          ciao

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Hi Jim,

            Actually I love heavy food. Osso buco with risotto is one of my favorite dishes. Magret de canard, too.

            My complaint about the scallion pancakes with hoisin sauce and beef wasn't so much that it was too heavy (I should have expressed it better), more that it was two sets of rich, wonderful flavors competing against one another rather than complementing each other. To each his own.

            I try to appreciate dishes on their own merits too, believe me!

            Perhaps the order of the dishes didn't put the milder preparations in the best context... for example, I was eating the spicy beef with watercress long before the dumplings arrived, etc.

            By the way, I was there on a Wednesday night (packed!), and the dim sum dishes were available.

            Best,
            Patrick

            1. re: Patrick A.

              "To each his own"

              absolutely! I can understand how our tastes could differ on the beef/scallion pancake thing (I thought my heavy food aversion theory was a good one, oh well!). But I do think you missed out on the soup...hope you'll try again. Think "Grandma", don't look for Grucci effects in-mouth.

              "Perhaps the order of the dishes didn't put the milder preparations in the best context"

              yeah, Kim is really into tweaking his menu, loading it up with a diverse mix of dishes that cross all sorts of regional and gustatory boundaries (fusion???). The amazing thing is that almost all are greatly successful and very authentic, but the downside is that you can choose yourself a REALLY disharmonious meal (or sequence) without realizing it from the limited menu descriptions.
              Maybe it's my extremely chowhoundish perspective, but I often prefer to get all my favorite dishes--regardless of harmony--than to necessarily arrange a good blend or sequence (though I do very much appreciate blend and sequence when I get it!) . As a result, I've learned over the years to backpedal from spicy to subtle, though I'm not sure that's a skill to be proud of, as it's kind of artificial (just like wine tasting, in fact).

              Ok, I believe you all, that Kim's extended the Kim Sum menu to not-just-weekend-mornings. I need to go down there some night and see whether it's the same chef or if he's hired a second-stringer to cover. I'm pretty plugged in to those dumplings, I'll know after one bite.

              "I was there on a Wednesday night (packed!)"

              Yeah, the place has been crowded lately. Kim's Chinese clientele has finally located him. For a few wonderful months I had the restaurant to myself.

              ciao

      2. re: Jim Leff

        Looks like quite a few of chowhounds made the trip to Captain King this week.

        Like the other 2 posters, my litle group had a wonderful meal there too last Thursday. The steamed vegetable dumplings were a real hit, as was the scallion pancake rolled with beef (no, we didn't find it heavy, we demolished it!) I think the pork shank is my favorite dish in the house - blows away the one made at Joe's Shanghai. We also loved the sauteed stringbeans, Taiwanese style chicken, and the velvety baby shrimps with edamame beans. Oh yeah, the sesame bread was great too (we jokingly call it Kim's deep-dish pizza)

        2 dishes to stay away from - the very rubbery dried squid, and the seafood casserole which was very bland and boring.

        1. re: Gary Cheong

          gary...I'm mystified. You were served dumplings and such on a weeknight? Kim has NEVER had his dumpling guy working other than weekend mornings. Man, I just can't figure out what happened.

          But Kim's crafty...this might be yet another of his New Ideas. He always keeps you guessing...

          1. re: Jim Leff

            Jim - I think we are talking about different dumplings here. What we had were the steamed vegetable dumplings which is listed on the regular menu.

            I have yet to try the weekend dumpling breakfast you've been telling me about. Will try to do that very soon.

            1. re: Gary Cheong

              no, no...those dumplings and the beef-rolled-in-scallion-pancakes--all the stuff on the upper left part of the menu--are things normally only available weekend mornings. That IS the dim sum (kim sum?) menu.

              I've gotta go out there and figure out what Kim's gone and done. Even though you really liked
              those dumplings, I'm not convinced it was the omnipotent Dumpling Virtuoso; he's ALWAYS been
              weekends only. Gotta go try it myself and see.

              ciao