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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!

            2. Yes there were at another location before(their original location). They closed down, as the family had to return to China. Several months later, they returned to their current location. The first time(at their current location), I had a hard time finding the restaurant without having the exact address(I knew the street where they were located by didn't have the number). I consider them just outside of Chinatown.

              1. I've never heard of this place, and I'm definitely going to try it out! One thing I wanted to know is: Does this place have a lot of sweet-ish, deep fried food? I can't stand General Tao chicken (I know I'm wierd), and I'm afraid that niu kee will have lots of dishes like that.

                2 Replies
                1. re: serpah

                  Not at all! I found out I'm a 'heat wimp' when I went there! It's extreme heat, only hot food lovers will enjoy it. Wow! The tofu dish was good (and hot!).

                  1. re: serpah

                    I didn't see any General Tao or Orange beef on the menu. I don't think they have any of that American Chinese stuff.

                    I was there last week. We asked them to not hold-out on the peppers. The food was so hot, it made us cry. Sheer bliss!

                  2. went again the other night!
                    no general tao
                    this is the real deal- no need to be worried, dont be scared.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: celfie

                      Thanks for the reassurances! I love the real deal Chinese food, and I find that even 'real' restos these days carry the General Tao, Orange Beef American-Chinese stuff. I consider those dishes to be bad. So refreshing to find others who do too. :)

                      I'll definitely check it out soon and let all of you know how I like it. :)

                    2. I went to niu kee last night and it was incredible!! The hot & sour soup was amazing, so was the spicy fried chicken. We went all out and ordered way too much food so we'd have leftovers for lunch today. We ordered the tofu/fish stew with the flower peppers, a mushroom/brocoli dish, a snowpea stem dish, rice, a beef sizzling platter and buckwheat noodles with shredded chicken, all on top of the soup and fried chicken! There were only four of us there, and we all had a little lunchbox to take home at the end.

                      The 'flower peppers' they use are amazing. A lemony, spicy, cooling, heating spice. Cooling by making your mouth go all numb. I was really impressed and happy with the place.

                      Thanks for the recommendation. I'm definitely going back again.