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niu kee

I was delighted to discover niu kee (thanks to this board) - however, reviews I've read suggested it would be an endorphin pumping experience. My order was definitely spice-underwhelming. But maybe I didn't order right - please suggest some of the fire dishes worth checking out.

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  1. What did you order? Everything I've ordered when dining there, have been very spicy & hot, but my last time eating there was around 6-7 months ago. So things might have changed. I could see how they might have to tone things down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BLM

      I just ate there this evening, and I can safely say, based on what I ate, they have not toned anything down. The Kung Pao chicken is filled with chili peppers and szechuan peppercorns - I'm guessing you didn't order that...(the peppercorns are almost overwhelming, and I like spicy dishes)...

    2. i had kung pao shrimps

      i ate the peppers and didn't find them particularly scorching. I was looking for fire. I must admit that their hot and sour soup was unbelievable but not hot enough!

      burn me montreal

      1 Reply
      1. re: celfie

        I found the few dishes I've tried with Szechuan peppercorns to be extremely intense but not blazing -- they had a big, bold spiciness that didn't rely on hot peppers to do the heavy lifting.

        The peppercorns themselves reminded me somewhat of star anise, not at all for the flavour but for creating tingling sensations in my mouth and for a tendency to permeate other ingredients with their powerful aroma. For example, the peanuts from the kung pao were almost overwhelming by the end of the meal.

        As for the chili peppers, I agree that they're not exceptionally hot. However, I found they still had a decent kick -- enough to produce a good sweat, but not enough to make me cry.

        Perhaps you could ask them to make things extra-spicy for you?

      2. i wonder if they assumed we were uninitiated and toned it down for us. anyways thanks for the lesson - this is my new friday night joint best chinese in the city for sure and a real hidden gem

        1 Reply
        1. re: celfie

          Could be any number of reasons for the difference -- someone else cooking, complaints from others about overly intense dishes, or your palate being totally inured from years of hot-sauce abuse. :)

          Again, I suggest telling them you like a lot of heat. You can also ask for hot sauce if there isn't any on your table already. (I don't remember whether it was there to begin with or we asked for it, but I know we had a little jar of chilies in oil on our table last time.)

        2. went back last night
          told them that iwas ready for it "full on"
          and this was the best meal ever

          1. After seeing all these posts about Niu Kee, I decided to try it out for myself last Wednesday evening.

            First of all I had a hard time finding it as I didn’t know it was on the north side of Clark Street (Corner Clark & Rene Levesque)

            When I finally found it and walked into the room I knew I was in for a treat.

            It is quaint little place and with the warm welcome you feel like you are at a private party.

            I ordered the hot & sour soup $3 it was the best I have ever had and is large enough for two people.

            Second came the pork & chive dumplings 20 for $7

            Finally the “piece de resistance” Kung Pao chicken, $7.50 with at least many tablespoons of pepper corns, besides the spices you don’t see only taste.

            They are definitely heavy on the spices but this is the charm and uniqueness of the place and it works so well that you find yourself planning your next trip before you leave and fantasizing about all the other dishes you are going to try.

            I told the owner that they should have a fireman to hose down the patrons after a meal.

            The portions are so large that almost everyone leaves with a Styrofoam containers

            The place is run by a family that could not be more kind.

            The women in charge, use to be a famous opera singer in Beijing and the pictures on the wall are of her in her opera days.

            If you are lucky you will catch her singing some arias as she goes about her business.

            Niu Kee will be at the top of my list.

            1 Reply
            1. re: InterFoodie

              Thanks for the heads up on the location... I finally figured out where this joint is i think. I tried to canadian google it and i came across a review in The Mirror-- to my dismay Mark S. said it closed down. Then i checked the date of the review and it was archived in Sept. 9-14 2005 and not 2006. How strange! (since chowhounds have been discussing eating there most recently). Phew! With all the great reviews I better jump on over to Chinatown~ after all it has been a while!