This is probably one of the most visited restaurants in the Boston area that I've never been to before. I had to go just because the Phantom talks nonstop about how great it is.
Let me tell you I was thoroughly disappointed. East Ocean City absolutely blows Kowloon out of the water. We had mussels, clams, "saugus wings" and some thai squid dish.
Wings were okay if you like super sticky sweet. Clams were cooked nice but the sauce wasn't good. Squid dish was not good as it seemed like a kitchen sink hodge podge of stuff. And the mussels were just plain stinky. I think everyone in the dining room could probably smell mu mussels.
The place however was jam packed. How do they have such a good reputation?
Kowloon simply dishes out weak quality stuff. At heart, they're a boilerplate Polynesian/Cantonese '50s style suburban Chinese spot, about on a par with Bali Hai in Lynnfield and other late unlamented examples of the type (Diamond Head, Aku Aku), though they have added other cuisines over the years. I've never had good food there.
They have advertised heavily on the Phantom Gourmet show over the years, and sorry to say, this show has a reputation for pushing its advertisers heavily regardless of food quality.
For North Shore suburban folks who flock there, who knows why they go? Close by convenience maybe (many such folks won't take the trouble to head into Chinatown with the parking woes or deign to ride the subway)? Inertia maybe (they went there as kids and haven't tried exploring further)? Big gloppy Polynesian cocktails maybe (get blotto slurping down a couple of zombies, and when you're that smashed even shoe leather will taste pretty good)? Could be any number of reasons.
The only thing worth going to Kowloon for is the 2x yearly lobster festival. For about $20, you get twin lobsters prepared however you want (boiled, steamed with ginger and scallions, stir-fried, etc.). They usually run it once in the winter and once in the summer,
Otherwise it is pretty standard MSG laden chinese.
It's not even all that cheap, though. Considering how quickly they can turn a table and how many people are in there every weekend (it feels like millions when you're trying to push through the crowd), prices should be lower. I do like the kitsch factor (bad 80s cover band playing in a "ship"?), but that can't make up for the food.