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Rumors of authentic Chinese in Carrboro

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  • suse Nov 5, 2009 05:50 AM
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So according to good friends of mine who visited this mysterious place on the recommendation of a Chinese friend of hers, there is a "god awful looking Chinese restaurant" (right across from the Arts Center and Amante/Visart etc.) which has both an American and a Chinese menu. They ordered from the Chinese menu and they "HIGHLY recommend the whole fish with bean chile sauce!! Absolutely outstanding." The Chinese menu is still all in Chinese, but they are supposedly getting it translated. My friends say the guy was very nice and described things.
Has anyone been to this place?

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  1. Yes I know this place (if it is Gourmet Kingdom). Never eaten there. I think if you don't have any food restrictions ordering off a menu without the English could be an adventure. It's not a secret place though the menu maybe. The question is do all the Chinese menu items do really well or was it just that one dish. Thanks for letting us know. It is rather dumpy looking.

    -----
    Gourmet Kingdom
    301 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510

    3 Replies
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      I'm going to guess that it's more than just the fish based on the Chinese woman who recommended this place to my friends. She is super hyper picky when it comes to Chinese food.

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        It really is dumpy looking, and (even worse) dumpy smelling. But I did notice a sign on the front the other day that said "under new management." My husband claims this sign has been there for at least 2 years though, so who knows. I'm fascinated that it may actually have something worth eating. Anyone else out there have more info?

        1. re: LulusMom

          Being in Carrboro I wish I did but I go by it on my way from work and so if I start to see more traffic (foot or otherwise), I'll let this board know. If someone else, has more info on the Chinese menu or cares to take a photo let us know.

      2. This is-- or at least it was-- a buffet joint. I walked in there once soon after it opened, took a look at the inside and the food, and walked out. It did not look nearly as appetizing-- as buffets go-- as 35 in Chapel Hill. I'm deeply skeptical that a buffet joint can turn out good, authentic Chinese food. If otherwise give it a try and report back a good experience then I'm there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bbqme

          I could be wrong about this being the place, but it fits the OP description sketchy looking (my words) and across from ArtsCentre/Amanti's.

          1. re: bbqme

            I don't know anything about this specific restaurant, but don't prejudge based on the buffet. I wouldn't go near the buffet at Fortune Palace in Raleigh, but their traditional menu is pretty good. WIth any luck, this place will be the same.

            1. re: bbqme

              Again, for me the smell of the place (old oil) is off-putting. I'd love to hear a first hand review.

            2. This is such a funny little thread. It's like we're all scared to be the first to go! It's Homecoming weekend, so I'm not going anywhere near Chapel Hill, but I may just have to volunteer to go sometime soon.

              13 Replies
              1. re: suse

                That is really funny. Maybe we should all chip in for your meal ...

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Maybe we should all do a meet up, but some posters (not speaking for myself necessarily) may feel safer with some anonymity.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    That would actually be a good excuse to meet up. I'm sure we would be a motley crew. That way we could have the proper Chinese food experience and order lots of different things. I rarely get excited about eating a whole fish by myself. I don't worry about anonymity. Not sure how to go about setting it up. Could we shoot for post-Thanksgiving sometime? First week of December perhaps?

                    1. re: suse

                      I'll have to double check my schedule.

                      1. re: suse

                        Not the least bit scared of anonymity, but somewhat scared of the food, having walked by it. I get your whole fish thing, I feel the same. Sort of insane sched. in Dec. but January?

                        1. re: suse

                          This area could use a meet-up. The reports from San Francisco and Tampa Bay hounds always sounds like they had a great time! My work schedule varies, but with a few weeks notice I may be able to swing it.

                          1. re: suse

                            I think I can do first December or first week Jan as it stands right now.

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              hey I'd love to meet up too. I pass by this place a lot, coming from Carrburitos - it is dead empty....

                              -----
                              Carrburitos
                              711 W Rosemary St, Carrboro, NC 27510

                              1. re: Rory

                                Hey, welcome back Rory, long time.

                                I read today (in Chapel Hill Magazine) that they offer 100 different dishes. That sort of scares me. How many dishes can one place do well?

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  hey LulusM; I missed you all too.
                                  I'm busy, baking, want to reapply for a farmers market stall here. So my test kitchen is working away.
                                  do you we to meet at Miel Bon Bon for coffee and dessert ?, Butternut Squash is having a bigger menu, I'm game to go or give a suggestion.

                                  -----
                                  Butternut Squash Restaurant
                                  Chapel Hill, NC, Chapel Hill, NC

                                  1. re: Rory

                                    I'm semi-crazy for the next few weeks, but after that would love to.
                                    Good to have you back, and good luck with the test kitchen.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      thanks LM;
                                      baking day today but I have a very flexible schedule. so I'm looking forward to it..

                            2. re: suse

                              Bumpity Bump :-) Was a concensus made about a general timeline to meet?

                      2. The restaurant is Gourmet Kingdom in Carrboro across from the arts center. It's under new ownership as of two months ago and I can report the food is amazing. We ordered off the chinese menu, but saw many of the same dishes on the english take-out menu (boiled fish in hot sauce, ba shu tofu, and salt & pepper shrimp).

                        My in-laws chatted with the owner for a while, and it sounds like he was at 35 Chinese Restaurant in Cary before buying Gourmet Kingdom (another restaurant with a good reputation for good authentic chinese food). If I understood correctly, they're not doing a buffet anymore. The menu is heavy on the Sizchuan dishes.

                        Note: 35 in Cary and 35 in Chapel Hill are not related to the best of my knowledge...

                        80 Replies
                        1. re: jacksonfox

                          Thanks a bunch! Though I can do spicy it should be a treat. If this place gets very popular, the only condition that would be of issue would be parking (even across the street). Maybe I should go here on Christmas :-p

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            Up north Chinese restaurants are packed on Christmas day! But somehow I doubt that would be the case down here. I'm definitely interested, especially given jacksonfox's info.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              I was joking about Christmas day. I'll have family in town and Szechuan may not be their thing. Definitely excited to go as a meetup though and didn't know with everyone's schedule what worked best. I pass by it each day.

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                Don't laugh. LulusMom is right. Many Northerners (read: Jews) consider Chinese food and a movie to be a traditional December 25 activity. After all, what else is open on X-mas day?

                                1. re: rockycat

                                  How well I know which is why I made the comment. THough thankfully there are other (albeit higher end) options open in the Triangle area according to the N&O.

                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                    Heh, that's just what I did in Manhattan;-) down to Mott St or to the old 2nd ave deli for Christmas.
                                    So I'm definitely up for Gourmet Kingdom for Christmas:)

                                    1. re: Rory

                                      i could go for some chinese that day. im new here and don't yet know a soul. would you like to meet me there that day?

                                      1. re: lil magill

                                        I'd definately be up for a get together with fellow 'hounds. I picked up a carry out menu from this place on Saturday. I've always wanted to try hot pot, but I usually don't have a large enough group for it.

                                        1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                          I would love to go with a group but can not go around Christmas as I'll be involved with family. Unless another group would like to go before or after this time period.

                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                            Same here. Would love to meet up but can't do it on Christmas.

                                            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                              Me three!

                                              1. re: suse

                                                four!

                                            2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                              I should restate this.. It may be hard for me to do it between the 24th and 27th.

                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                How many people could do dinner on the 29th?

                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                  we can!

                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                    We probably could if it is for 6:30 or later. I get off work that day at 5:30 and would be coming from Raleigh.

                                                    Does anyone know if the place accepts plastic?

                                                    My e-mail is in the profile if needed in coordinating.

                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                      Yes to plastic see my last post on here.

                                                    2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                      So I may be totally confused is there a consensus that wants to meet to do a dinner here? Are we now looking more towards after NYE?

                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                        Since that is tomorrow and there have not been finalized plans, perhaps a specific date in Jan. would have better attendance.

                                                        I generally need a week notice to coordinate....

                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                          Does Jan 14 (Thurs) work for you and anyone else who'd like to participate?

                                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                            I'm still awaiting my Jan. work schedule - but usually they schedule me til 8:30 on Thursdays. Should know in a day or so!

                                                            Thank you for organizing!

                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                              I've got Lulu solo for dinner, so it *might* work, but only if everyone is planning on eating on a 3 year old's schedule (which I fully expect they're not - and understand, believe me!). Let me know what the plan turns out to be, would love to join if possible.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                I just figured I'd toss a date out there and meatn3 said to give a week's notice. I can go another week or a different day, but may be heading elsewhere over the MLK Jr. weekend (and that Monday) depending on the weather.

                                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                  Oh please - don't let me stop anyone!

                                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                                  we've got a meeting in north durham at 7 that night, so i'm not sure if we'd be able to come! :(

                                                                  1. re: cervisiam

                                                                    Okay so a new day is in store. If anyoen else wants to throw out a date.

                                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                      for us personally, next two weeks are bad, but hopefully that doesn't stop anyone else. i'll throw out 1/27 (wed) and 1/28 (thurs), and even 1/25 (mon) for possible dates in case something doesn't happen next week....

                                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                        I'm still awaiting my schedule. But Mondays I always start early at work, so I know I could be there by 7ish for sure. So 1/25 might work - need to check with my SO.

                                                                        Are SO's ok, or are we just sticking with CH's (who post)? Either way, I'm game! It will be fun to have some faces to go with the names - probably a few surprises there!

                                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                                          I can't do Mondays, but would love to participate in one of these. Hope another one can be planned soon.

                                                                          1. re: TerryG

                                                                            Finally got my work schedule. Wed, 1/27, 7ish or later is workable. Thurs. 1/28 is not.

                                                                            1. re: meatn3

                                                                              ok 1/27, burgeoningfoodie, Lulusmom? i was planning to bring SO, hopefully that's ok ! i will try to stop by tomorrow evening and see if they have a takeout menu (szechuan) ...

                                                                              1. re: cervisiam

                                                                                Totally ok on the SO!

                                            3. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                              Yeah I'm cool with SOs. Umm the 27th feels like I've got something going on, but let me double check first.

                                        2. re: jacksonfox

                                          Quick question: do I need to ask for (and be able to read) the szechuan menu to order from it?

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            I'm not sure if anyone answered your question, but from what I've heard you do not need to ask for the menu. Anyone want to give a definite on that?

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                              Thanks bf (if I may call you that). I'm really itching to get to this place. Husband very sceptical.

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                If you don't get it ask for it and the good news is it now has English translation.

                                                1. re: bbqme

                                                  I'm a tentative "Yes" at this point on the 27th pending business travel.

                                                  1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                    Checked with my SO, and we both are free the 27th. It would be interesting to see how this stacks up to Super Wok!

                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                      I've not been to Super Wok but see many people like it on here. Are they just consistently good or is it also a american menus vs. chinese menu type thing? I'm currently a tentative yes for the 27th as well. I had some chinese menu items from Chapel Hill's Red Lotus and one I thought was good and th other could have been better but tasted too salty. I don't know if that was due to it just being that way naturally or trying to appeal to american palettes.

                                                      I'm actually interested in trying the place in Durham on the corner of University and Garrett.

                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                        Which thing did you have that you really liked at Red Lotus? I'm going to give the place another shot (and do the chinese menu) so I want to try the best stuff.

                                                        When you go to Gourmet Kingdom, can you see if maybe my husband got incorrect info re: bringing your own and paying a corkage fee?

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          Yeah and if I don't someone else will. I don't know how these things usually go and not being a big wine drinker doesn't help. So I've only ordered off theri menu once and was in a hurry last week when it was freezing... Wait.. that was every day last week. I enjoyed their small cold salted duck (yes it is fatty but that is duck). The other dish I had was a cuttlefish/potherb mustard dish but though it didn't taste bad, I felt it was too salty or maybe it was wine (if they used it in their cooking). I would be incorrect if I didn't say that I went in with expectations of it being different. I'll definitely try something else like the 5 Layer Pork or Tilapia or maybe the Beef Ofal hich is also a cold dish(and maybe something from the 24 hour order ahead menu like the pig knuckle). It was fun to try something different. I had to make sure that potherb mustard wasn't something super spicy.

                                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                            Thanks bf. I love duck, will defnitely try that. Merlion has a nice cold wrapped duck appetizer in their salads section. Kind of a cheap-ish and cheerful way of getting peking duck flavors without having to find someone else who wants PD and waiting 45 minutes.

                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              Have you ever trekked over to Grand Asia Market in Cary? They have whole (or 1/2) roast duck you can buy to take home. It might be a fun outing with Lulu sometime. You need cash for the cafeteria/bakery/roast pork & duck part of the store.

                                                              1. re: suse

                                                                I've been a few times and always am tempted to get some dessert bun or something of the like. Never actually eaten a meal there though. Speaking of which does anyone know about Lan's (I think) chinese cooking school in Durham behind Super Target near Saladelia?

                                                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                  I took lessons from Lan over 16 years ago. Loved them. Had a great time.and learned a lot. I lived in China several years, but never actually cooked there. She teaches you how to cook nice, basic authentic Chinese food. I still use several of her recipes. She seems kind of serious and cool, but she's great.

                                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                    I'm not that big on Chinese sweets and pastries, but I love the custard bun, the one with the sugar swirl on top. The spicy dou hua (soft tofu soup-like stuff) available on Friday and Saturday is so delicious and their rice & three is a real deal, oh and then there are the steamed buns. I love eating there.

                                                                  2. re: suse

                                                                    Excellent idea. And she has two days off from school next week. She loves going to the "asian store" (silver wok on 15/501) with me and looking at all the different stuff.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Grand Asia is just plain fun. Make sure you and Lulu check out the assorted live seafood in the back. My kid always get a big kick out of that. Last year around Chinese New Year they had a man making dragon whiskers candy in the back near the freezer cases. That's fun to watch and he loves playing to the kids.

                                                                      Steamed buns, meat sauce noodles, cream-filled buns, and bubble tea go over big with the Offspring but all the prepared food is good.

                                                                      1. re: rockycat

                                                                        Hadn't you been looking for kumquats a while ago? I saw them at Grand Asia last night - that might be your best bet next year if you use them for your holiday meal again (if I'm remembering the request correctly).

                                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                                          You are remembering quite correctly. I did manage to find them at HT and Whole Paychex but I'd rather shop at Grand Asia any day. In fact, I don't know that I've ever used the word "cute" to refer to a vegetable before, but they had the cutest little baby bok choy this morning. I'll be cooking that up with some smoked tofu and fresh noodles tonight.

                                                                      2. re: LulusMom

                                                                        Silver wok is great. I used to go there with my son when he was small, but Grand Asia will keep her fascinated all day.

                                                                        1. re: suse

                                                                          Thanks everyone - this is a PERFECT outing for us next week.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            Took Lulu to Grand Asia yesterday and she had a blast. She was mesmerized (sp?) by the live fish. I was a little disappointed that I couldnt' find salted chiles, but aside from that, this was a great way to spend her morning off. Thanks again for the suggestion.

                                                                  3. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                    potherb mustard, if i am correct, is pickled mustard greens and very salty by nature. (my parents pickle their own - boy, is it SMELLY when it comes out of the pot! -- and use it in a tripe/bamboo shoot/potherb mustard soup.) probably paired with the cuttlefish, it was a major salt overload.

                                                                    OT, red lotus has a great dish off their chinese menu: Stir-Fried Tofu Skin with Potherb Mustard & Green Soy Bean

                                                                    1. re: cervisiam

                                                                      I'll have to sample more from their menu. At first, I thought potherb mustard was like a spicy mustard that was to be used as a sauce. I then unleashed the power of the internet and saw that it was a mustard green though no indication was given as to being heavily salted or pickled. It was a tad much though. Again the cold duck was good and I'm wondering about pork knuckles and such as my experience has only be via Central Europe.

                                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                        I made a soup with pickled mustard greens (from one of the Fuschia Dunlop books) - not sure if this is the same thing or not. My husband found it too salty too. I think it is probably an aquired taste (for most).

                                                  2. re: jacksonfox

                                                    I went by there yesterday and talked to the lady working at the cash register. The new owner is not the same as the owner of 35 Chinese in Cary, rather the Master chef was hired away from 35. The Chinese menu does not have English translation but the waiters seems proficient in English and will be happy to recommend dishes if you tell them what sorts of dishes you are looking for (e.g., beef, veg, etc.). When I was there they had a lunch buffet going at it looked absolutely horrible. But there were several Chinese families there and the items they had ordered off the Chinese menu looked delicious. I had planned to return in the evening with the family for dinner but didn't get done with my errands in time. Will definitely go there for dinner soon.

                                                    1. re: bbqme

                                                      five!

                                                      1. re: bbqme

                                                        I was in there Saturday at lunch time checking out the buffet.

                                                        It was half dried out mexican items and half dried out pseudo-Chinese items.

                                                        The place was almost empty.

                                                        If you want to try this place, I'd suggest doing it soon because based on the quality of the buffet and lack of customers, they may not be open much longer.

                                                        It seems strange that they can make high quality Chinese dishes on a secret menu but the rest of the food they serve is so poor.

                                                        It doesn't sound like a recipe for success.

                                                        1. re: castaway

                                                          Oh no, that is horrible. We need a good chinese place in the CH/Carrboro area so much. But I have to say, this place has always struck me as iffy, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear the good things about it. I really have to try to get in there and order off the chinese menu soon, I guess.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            I think the thing with Asian cookery as it goes around Ch/Carrboro is knowing what to order or knowing to ask for the authentic chinese menu. Unfortunately, there is no place that does dim sum well (to my knowledge) and not the kind of places you'd find with giant lazy susan tables.

                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              If their chalkboard specials or items off of their Chinese menu are ordered I think Red Lotus is a good Chinese place in Chapel Hill.

                                                              1. re: bbqme

                                                                Unfortunately the only time I've been there I was with Lulu, and wanted to play it a little safe (not sure why ... she's fairly game foodwise). So I ordered off the regular menu and was disappointed. I'll have to give it another shot.

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  Red Lotus is great like bbqme says,
                                                                  Jenny at Red Lotus also tells me what specials the Chinese students are havingtoo. I really second Red Lotus.

                                                                  1. re: Rory

                                                                    I've been to Red Lotus and I thought it was good. Another option is to go to Super Wok in Cary. We certainly won't be disappointed and having a large group there is a real benefit.

                                                                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                      Super Wok would be great for a group! We would be very interested in joining. Your posts about it have put it on my must try list.

                                                                      A group of CH's in the Tampa Bay area did a taste-off recently between Chinese restaurants and wrote it up. Seemed like a good time for a good cause!

                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649445

                                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                                    When we went we found there were no noodle dished on the traditional menu we we ordered off the regualr menu for the Offspring. The "American" chef never prepared her order so Spouse and I were eating while the kid sat watching us. When we prompted the waiter and her order finally came, it was pretty awful. Definitely not worth the haul out to CH for us.

                                                                    1. re: rockycat

                                                                      I went with Lo Mein for Lulu and it was bland and kind of gummy. The dumplings were also gummy (made me long for Jujube or Lantern's dumplings). Chairman Tao's (sp??) chicken was chewy way beyond normal cooking, although the flavors were fine. I feel sort of bad about not having given the other menu a try, and really think I should before writing the place off. But just based on what we ate that night, I'm not rushing to get back there without a child. Since I live in CH I really wanted to love it. As much as I want to try Super Wok, hauling a 3 year old to Cary for dinner (or having to rush there and back on babysitter night) doesn't appeal so much.

                                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                                  This may need to be a separate topic BUT.. we are planning to order Chinese for a group of 10 to be eaten at someone's abode. What are the recommendations of places to get said take out instead of dine-in. Does that change the recs? What are recommended dishes (preferably non spicy albeit maybe one or two out of a possible 5 dishes). This is for Chapel Hill/Carrboro but don't mind driving to the little Chinese place on Garret/University to get the food either..

                                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                    I don't have a car so I can't get to Cary, blast!, well maybe if I take 3 buses...
                                                                    LM
                                                                    Red Lotus has 2 chefs, one for the gross chinese-american food, one for the real thing. In all the times I've eaten there I always stick to the Shanghai menu & the servers' advice. They will make special things for you

                                                                    1. re: Rory

                                                                      I had hoped to get Lulu and me to Gourmet Kingdom tonight, but am being a weather wimp and staying in. Maybe if the babysitter cancels tomorrow night ...

                                                                      Still no first hand reports?

                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                        nope, I was wondering, KIldare's a supposed authentic Irish pub is opening in Chapel HIl, I spent enough time in Ireland to know. Hmm I wonder if they have boxty's anyway....interested?

                                                                        1. re: Rory

                                                                          Is this a chain pub? Where is it opening? If it is the real thing, definitely interested. I believe you have my email.

                                                                          I saw that the irish pub back behind Vespa and that stuff on Franklin closed. I had a beer there once, and that was fine, but I wouldnt' have wanted to eat there.

                                                                          BTW, the babysitter didn't cancel (since the weather is ridiculously fine, given weather reports) so I took myself to Elaines for what was a really nice dinner.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            Kildare's is most definitely a chain as in there is more than one location. They are mostly around PA/NJ. See link.

                                                                            http://www.kildarespub.com/

                                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                              OK, not so interested in the irish pub chain experience. Done that before. Thanks for the info.

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                ugh, chains, no thanks.

                                                                                How about Red Lotus for Chinese New Year?

                                                                                1. re: Rory

                                                                                  Last year we did Merlion for Chinese New Year (totally by accident ... luckily we're regulars and when without Lulu sit at the bar because the place was packed). It was a lot of fun. they had a dragon dance and that sort of thing. Do you know the date of CNY this year? Makes a lot of difference in if I can join an outting - have to work out babysitters, husbands (oops, make that singular - husband), etc.

                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    Chinese New Year 2010: 02/14/2010

                                                                                    1. re: jadec

                                                                                      Normally I'd say stay away from any and all restaurants on Valentines day (which is 2/14) but this place *looks* like such a dump that I can't much imagine it would be busy because of romance. Red Lotus, however, might get more business that night.

                                                          2. Quick question, which I'm guessing no one will be able to answer since so few have been to this place: are they licensed for beer/wine?

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              Answering my own question here. While I had the job of accompanying my daughter to a 4 year old's birthday party, my husband was asked to call the place and ask about the license. He was told they do not sell wine or beer, and do not allow outside wine or beer. He said I should take this second bit with a grain of salt (tequila anyone?) because the woman on the phone barely spoke english.

                                                              Anyway, a big drats because I was hoping to get him there with me tonight, but for me, no booze on a night without the child in tow is pretty much a no-go.

                                                            2. I haven't been to Gourmet Palace, but a friend of mine (a former chef) did some business for them when they opened and said the food was pretty bad.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: mightyquinn

                                                                But was this before the new owners?

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  Nope- new owners.

                                                              2. FINALLY! a place which offers mapotofu with sichuan PEPPERCORNS, aka ma la, aka numbing peppers. the one time i visited super wok, none of the dishes we ordered (dan dan noodles, mapotofu, double cooked pork) had sichuan peppercorns.

                                                                a brief review: we went today with a few chinese friends who like sichuan food. we also ordered dan dan noodles, jelly fish, jalapeno peppers (pan blistered), pea shoots, diced chicken with green peppers in a spicy sauce (a special that someone in the party had seen on the chalkboard) and pecan shrimp (similar to the walnut shrimp dish - creamy sweet sauce on fried shrimp). although we didn't order more 'sichuan' dishes (fish, double cooked pork, cold tripe, cellophane noodles), everyone was very happy and i feel optimistic about this place.

                                                                the chinese [dine in] menu has english translations, but the takeout copy is only in chinese. i can certainly scan it, if someone can host and someone can translate! i am looking forward to the 27th, if that date still stands.

                                                                in all honesty, the pinnacle of sichuan food for me is xiao la jiao (little pepper) in flushing, but i am relieved that this place is much closer to me than super wok.

                                                                side note:the bathrooms leave MUCH to be desired :P

                                                                22 Replies
                                                                1. re: cervisiam

                                                                  I know that sichuan is usually spicier as far as chinese cooking goes. Is it all spicy and to what degree (peppercorns aside)? Sounds like all things were yummy. This will be my first foodie type outing so I'm not sure how the order and sharing would go. I believe someone above (maybe OP) said the fish was a standout. I think i'd love to try jellyfish. Then again I'd like to try anything different. Strange (to me) to see pan blistered jalapeno when talking about Chinese cuisine. As far as I know, the 27th is a go. I hope that an outing like this might also let the restaurant know that what they are doing with the more authentic cooking is being appreciated by people who enjoy food in the community and if it helps them stay open.. so much the better.

                                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                    If this is a go, we need to figure where/when to meet, etc. And figure the parameters.
                                                                    I'm an equal opportunity eater, so since we don't need to worry about bar bills - I'm fine on family style to try a lot of dishes and splitting up the bill. Not carved in stone, just trying to get the ball rolling!

                                                                    We can't really go in asking for the CH table (frowned upon by the site guidelines) so we should find out how many are expected and where/when we will meet up.

                                                                    Thoughts?!

                                                                    1. re: meatn3

                                                                      Thats what I was thinking last night we should work out logistics...

                                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                        whoever is interested in the 27th, email me <my username> at netscape dot net and i can coordinate offline.

                                                                    2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                      Don't think of Sichuanese food as being overly spicy. The cuisine of Sichuan is really about balance and less about heat. In some dishes the chili heat is balanced by sweetness and other flavors, while in others, heat and numbing from the peppercorns balance. It's a really interesting cuisine.

                                                                      I'll plan to be there on the 27th.

                                                                      1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                        To me spice is balanced by some dairy to cool off my mouth :-p but I understand what you are saying.

                                                                    3. re: cervisiam

                                                                      Wow, I'd LOVE to see the menu in english. Once they get their ABC license I'll be checking it out in the place, but I'd be thrilled to order carry-out until then. Maybe they'd let me look at a dine-in one while standing there?

                                                                      Thanks so much for the report. Sounds really intriguing.

                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                        Me too but only so I could figure out what I'd want to order ahead of time. That tends to be a bad habit (deciding what I want).

                                                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                          I get so much flack for how long it takes me to figure out what I want! I'm trying hard to be better about it, but really, food is so fun and the choices can be so difficult ...

                                                                      2. re: cervisiam

                                                                        cervisiam-

                                                                        Were Jalepenos called Tiger Peppers on the menu? It sounds like it the right preparation. I've been wanting to try tiger peppers for a while. Glad to hear they're willing to deliver the numbing peppercorns in the quantity you like.

                                                                        1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                          i don't know - our friends ordered them--it was almost russian roulette with peppers; the one i got was incredibly spicy. my DH, however, got a more mild one.

                                                                        2. re: cervisiam

                                                                          I may be missing this somewhere in the thread. Does the take out menu correspond to the translated menu? That is if I know the number on the translated menu can I point and choose? Do you just place the order at the cash register or did you call up? I'm planning on doing some take out and getting the Cilantro Lamb. Just wasn't sure what to expect.

                                                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                            Not sure how much I can help, since I don't know the special menu by heart, but I have the carry out menu here in front of me, and it doesn't have *any* lamb dishes on it. One thing I can tell you is that, if I remember correctly, Rory's dad had a nice spicy beef dish and that it was R2 (we remembered this because it was like R2D2), and, unfortunately, the beef dishes on the carry-out menu are all B dishes (and certainly he didn't get orange beef which is what B2 is). So I guess the answer is that the numbers do NOT correspond. If anyone remembers what the kung pao lotus root number was, that might help - on the carry out menu it is V5. they do seem to have quiet a few of the szechuan items on the carry-out menu, but not all of them. If you want to email me with your fax number, I can *try* to figure out our fax machine (I'm still living in about 1993) and fax you the menu, if that would help.

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                              I have no fax number. Well that isn't true there is an office fax, but I don't know the number. Hmmmm I wonder if I can order something off the regular menu for take out then.

                                                                              Kung Pao Lotus Root on the normal menu is S-7 and the lamb dish is either R5 or R6.

                                                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                S-7 on the carry out menu is General Tao's Jumbo Shrimp; there are no Rs. So I guess that answers the question, although not very helpfully. Sorry!

                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                  I'll go and give it a shot. Whats the worse that could happen?

                                                                                  I believe the answer to this question lay within a stand up routine from John Pinette in which he states that the owner of a Chinese buffet told him to leave and never return after being there for 4 hours.

                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    Happy to say that they now have a website

                                                                                    http://www.thegourmetkingdom.com/defa...

                                                                                    And that if you go in and ask if you can do take out from the sichuan menu, they will gladly oblige.

                                                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                      Fantastic. Thanks for the info.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        Since their Chinese menu is a pdf, Google Translate won't work.

                                                                                        1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                                          Picked one up when I was there a month or so ago. Seems to have a surprising number of the szechuan dishes, but ... they aren't numbered the same as they are on the regular menu. Not that helpful (and frankly, kind of bizarre). Still and all, it gives you a good idea of what kinds of things are available.

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            The chinese menu is online

                                                                                            http://www.thegourmetkingdom.com/dinn...

                                                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                              I ran the menu through Google Translate. Since the translated words aren't distinct from the original English words, you may want to have the original and translated in separate browser tabs.

                                                                                              http://translate.google.com/translate...

                                                                          2. Just signed up for chowhound membership because my wife found this thread; then we went to GK tonight; and I LOVED it; and she told me I should post here.

                                                                            I had (I think) 'beef hot pot with Szechuan sauce'; she had 'tea smoked duck' (I think). Both were really, really good. I enjoyed both dishes more than she did: she doesn't particularly like Szechuan cuisine, and she's eating low carb, so she didn't have any of the rice -- but I thought the rice seemed essential to both dishes. (The rice was also very tasty. They didn't ask what kind we'd prefer: they just gave us white.) She thought both dishes were a little too savory, and needed something sweet or acidic to counterbalance -- which I thought the slightly sweet rice accomplished perfectly.

                                                                            Before the meal our server gave us a small bowl of something kimchee-like, which was very interesting. (My wife actually loved this, and aggressively prohibited me from finishing it.) Ordering was a little tricky: the menu is translated into English, but is VERY extensive, and the servers' English was not very good. We selected our dishes from the servers' recommendations. When the food came (which felt fast, but I'm not a good judge), the server offered more of the kimchee-stuff, this time with a chili oil sauce added -- which was excellent, and really added a lot to the already-enjoyable appetizer-thing. (I think they noticed that we had both asked for 'medium hot' spice on our entrees.)

                                                                            We also ordered hot tea, which they brought quickly, and refilled twice. The first pot was a surprisingly flavorful oolong; the second two were green, better than average, but not as impressive as the first. (I don't know much about tea, but several of 3Cups' teas are my favorites..and I'm assuming they're as picky about their tea as they are about their coffee.)

                                                                            The food was hotter than I'm accustomed to in the Triangle, but could have taken a lot more heat without overwhelming the deliciousness. I have much higher chili tolerance than most people I know in CH, and I believe my Szechuan pepper tolerance is pretty high too -- but I'm sure what we got was nowhere near what they might be happy to offer. (Our server seemed excited to be introducing us to their Chinese menu...)

                                                                            Basically, I want to return many times -- there must be seventy items on the menu! admittedly with redundancy, at least as far as the English tells -- but need a good excuse, as it's not particularly cheap (anyway not for a grad-student budget). For the quality, though, I'm more than happy to go -- one dish was $13, the other $15, and the hot pot was huge. (At least it looked huge, but I don't feel at all stuffed. I attribute this healthy feeling to the quality of the ingredients.) So actually I'd love to join the Jan27 meet-up, if it does indeed happen.

                                                                            28 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jedland

                                                                              We were there for dinner as well. There were a lot of people eating dinner on a Sunday night so that makes me glad that the word has gotten out about this place-- and the majority of customers were Chinese, which is always a good sign. We too started off with the oolong tea-- not great but much better than the weak stuff served at other Chinese establishments. The amuse they brought I'm guessing was pickled white part of cabbage that's often not utilized, carrots, and something green that I'm not sure about (celery?). It was tasty.

                                                                              We asked to start off by sharing a bowl of shredded pork, rice noodles, and pickled cabbage, and they were nice enough to oblige and put it into two bowls. For dinner we ordered the griddled prawns and kung pao lotus root. We actually got the prawn dish first but we didn't care because it was amazing. I think the English translations on the Chinese menu should be taken with a grain of salt because the prawns were clearly fried not griddled-- but cooked perfectly with peppers, onions, peanuts, lots of dried chili and sechuan peppercorns (must have been in there because my mouth was tingling and somewhat numb-- and it makes water taste funny) and chili oil. Super yummy! The soup arrived next-- if we had gotten it first I would have really liked it-- but next to the shrimp dish it couldn't compare. I had never had lotus root before I really liked that dish too-- kind of a cross between a potato and a water chestnut.

                                                                              As jedland says, their Chinese menu is really large, I'd say it's easily 3 times a big as the Chinese menu at Superwok or Red Lotus. I look forward to working through this menu. Other positives are that the prices are quite reasonable because the portions are absolutely huge! Honestly, the shrimp and lotus root dishes is enough to easily satisfy 4 hungry adults and possibly six if apps/starters are ordered.

                                                                              The negatives are this is an ugly restaurant-- sorry, there is just no way to get around this fact. The lighting, the well-worn booths, tables and chairs detracts from the experience. Second, as mentioned before, don't expect your dishes to come out together or in order. But the food is so good and our waiter was nice so we didn't mind these negatives.

                                                                              1. re: bbqme

                                                                                If you want to eat authentic Chinese food, then they probably think you're willing to eat it Chinese style - that is, things come out when they're cooked. They're intended to be shared, so it doesn't matter that they don't come out together and Chinese tend not to eat soup first. Where I lived in China, it was served last. Don't want to dilute those digestive juices before you start your meal.

                                                                                1. re: suse

                                                                                  Interesting-- and certainly puts things into context.

                                                                                2. re: bbqme

                                                                                  bbqme: lol, were you guys at one point talking about how soy sauce is made? If so, we were in the next booth.

                                                                                  suse: cool, that makes sense; the servers specifically encouraged the two of us to order very different things, so that we could share. I learned afterwards that both dishes the servers recommended are classic/representative Szechuan dishes -- which I took to mean that the servers were trying to introduce us appropriately to the food they're really interested in cooking (and which we knew nothing about).

                                                                                  1. re: jedland

                                                                                    No, that wasn't us. If you saw a homely looking Indian dude with a gorgeous brunette that was us. ;-)

                                                                                    1. re: jedland

                                                                                      Can you tell us what those two dishes were? Love to know, because I really do want to try to get some carry out from this place.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        I can throw out a few classic Sichuan dishes from the Land of Plenty cookbook on my desk:

                                                                                        Kung pao chicken: though I hesitate to order it for fear of getting an Americanized version.
                                                                                        Twice Cooked Pork:
                                                                                        Ma Po Tofu
                                                                                        Dan dan noodles
                                                                                        Ants Climbing a Tree: it's a noodle dish with finely chopped meat

                                                                                        1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                                          I love that book, and cook from it regularly. I just was wondering what the staff was recommending as "classic/representative" examples of the cuisine. By the way, a favorite of ours from that book is the dry fried chicken - easy and incredibly good.

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            Dry fried chicken, eh? I'll have to try that. I saw your posts when LOP was cookbook of the month a while back. My favorite is probably dan dan noodles, though I'm a sucker for anything with pork belly. BTW, since you like LOP, check out the Momofuku cookbook. There's a pork with rice cakes dish that's killer.

                                                                                            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                                              And there-in lies the rub. I don't eat pork. I"m chomping at the bit to get that book, but I am under the impression there is a LOT of pork in it, and my cookbook shelves are already sagging.

                                                                                              Dunlop's Hunan book is also really good. I'm a big szechuan fan, so originally only bought that one, but now have both and love them equally.

                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                That's right, i forgot you don't eat pork. No matter. You can sub for the pork in many of the dishes. The first time I made the rice cake dish I used ground lamb. It was great. I really liked the book as a book to read not just to cook from. I've used ground dark meat turkey in place of pork often.

                                                                                                I'm reading Dunlop's memoir now, Shark's Fin & Sichuan Pepper. Interesting book. I needed a trip to Super Wok after reading it for a fix.

                                                                                                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                                                  I've done exactly that myself - subbed ground turkey, and it does work well (especially if you're not used to eating pork). I've made the mapo tofu without the meat (she has a recipe for it that way) and the ants climbing a tree using turkey already. I'll give the books another look and keep that in mind. I read her memoirs too, and boy, did I want to hop on a plane immediately.

                                                                                                  another recipe plug: the shrimp with chinese chives recipe in the Hunan book. Oh, and the cilantro salad, which is dead easy to make and incredibly good.

                                                                                                2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  btw, they made the mapotofu without pork (one in our party does not eat meat)

                                                                                                  1. re: cervisiam

                                                                                                    As per the post below. It doesn't seem like another experience had meat in it either.

                                                                                                    1. re: cervisiam

                                                                                                      Great to know!

                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                        so you can't come on the 27th? :( if you can't, we will have to have another gathering then, since i think the OP [suse] cannot attend either!

                                                                                                        1. re: cervisiam

                                                                                                          I would love to, but I have Lulu (age 3) in tow that night while the husband has a work dinner. Lulu would be very game for the food (and especially meeting people) but she tends to eat early since bedtime is 8:15. We might show up after our dinner just to say hi, if people will be there early enough. I'm dying to hear how this goes.

                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                            I'm in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area and so I can be around at any given time after 5:30 or so. You could of course always do take out from their main Szechuan menu and that way you can experience some of what will be going on and give you an idea for when you do a sit down there. In that instance, you may have to ask for the menu with translations.

                                                                                                          2. re: cervisiam

                                                                                                            So nice of you to think of me, cervisiam. I'm currently out of town taking care of my mom. It would be fun to have another gathering in the spring. I would so be there. I speak just a little Chinese, mostly food Chinese.

                                                                                                            1. re: suse

                                                                                                              First and foremost, I hope your mother is doing okay and if not that she gets better soon. I can't speak for cervisiam, but we could always try another group towards the end of Feb or early March maybe.

                                                                                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                if the 27th goes ok! :) maybe a weekend lunch so that LulusMom can come with Lulu..........

                                                                                                                1. re: cervisiam

                                                                                                                  You're all so kind! I'm DEFINITELY going to be picking up carry-out very soon. Sort of waiting to hear how things go next week, although so many positive reports have me chomping at the bit. A weekend lunch would be great. Might even convince Lulu's dad to join.
                                                                                                                  Suse, hope your mother is doing ok.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                    Maybe someone with a small enough camera will take some shots of the pages of the menu. I'm not volunteering myself as my camera is almost an SLR.

                                                                                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                      We'll definitely bring camera for food and menu.

                                                                                                                      1. re: TerryG

                                                                                                                        This is so fantastic (awesome, brilliant, pick your favorite word) of you!

                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                          Went to dinner again last night, this time with the kids. The standout dishes were-- going from memory on the names-- Tianjian (?) wontons in chili oil (on the last page, item #3) and the Schezuan crispy fish filets (rec by the waitress). The wonton's wrappers were so delicate and silky-- an ethereal experience in the mouth. The pork was juicy and sweet. The chili sauce was not very spicy. I never thought I'd say this but I like them better than Superwok's dumplings in chili oil. The fish was super crunchy, garlicky, with a spicy kick.

                                                                                                                          The other dishes we ordered were pork riblets and shredded pork with smoked tofu and cilantro. The dishes were good to very good but I think they execute seafood dishes the best-- and pork wontons.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bbqme

                                                                                                                            Those wonton wrappers DO sound yummy.

                                                                                                                2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                  I have a meeting that conflicts Wednesday as well, so I won't be able to make it either. Definitely still interested in meeting up, just can't 1/27.

                                                                                        2. So a good friend of mine who has traveled extensively and eaten at some actual Szechuan places around the globe actually went here based on all the recs I heard (and he knows I'm going to be there on the 27th) with 3 other guys. He said it was a great place and close experience to what he's had in other places (he referenced a small section of a Chinatown in London?). This is what I gathered from talking with him.

                                                                                          There are two menus that were presented. One is typical Americanized chinese and the other was about 4-5 pages of Szechuan dishes. He said the very last page is all Chinese. He noted that there is like small room in the back that had two tables with lazy susans on them. Though they sat elsewhere. When ordering the waiter noted that all dishes are for sharing and big enough for family style. Here is what was ordered (though I don't remember the exact names he told me).

                                                                                          1. Jellyfish - was described to me as a cold appetizer with sliced bell pepper. It tasted of the bell pepper and a hint of cucumber.
                                                                                          2. A Lotus Root dish - was served with garlic and the red chilis in either Szechuan sauce or chili oil.. He said this was the favorite at the table.
                                                                                          3. Twice Cooked Pork - I believe he said it had mushroom again with the red peppers (the kind you find in Kung Pao chicken is what he said) It was tasty.
                                                                                          4. Tofu (I believe he said it was Ma Po) - said it came in a medium sized bowl in a red liquid. The tofu he said was very soft and that the broth was bubbling when it was set on the table.
                                                                                          5. Fish Dish - this he said came in a huge stone bowl with some sort of noodle maybe cellophane or rice, bean sprouts/noodles, fish fillets and chili and chili oil.

                                                                                          He said that there was white rice but that they maybe could have used more.

                                                                                          When asked what other dishes he was curious about he said that he didn't know about pork dishes as he doesn't like pork. He said there is what seems like a page and a half dedicated to vegetarian friendly dishes. He noted some interesting items like pigs ear and duck tongue among others.

                                                                                          He said service was great and helpful and speedy and really wanted to make sure that they enjoyed their food. He also noted that there was more than enough leftover for people to make their own lunch out of for next day and that they didn't mind splitting the check evenly among all four people.

                                                                                          So thats a 2nd hand account of possible food they have there. Hope that entices you more. I'm adventurous and would love to try not necessarily spicy dishes but odd dishes that wouldn't be found else where. This place sounds like it might be a real find.

                                                                                          1. Just a word of note. I noticed that they now have a small banner up stating Grand Opening. Not sure that will drive the crowds in unless an article is mentioned that the chef and food will be vastly different (according how it was formerly described).

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                              No fears - that banner has been up for months.

                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                Hakuna Matada (sp?)

                                                                                            2. That was good! Great meeting a couple of ya! Summary to others: go to Gourmet Kingdom. Report will be coming semi-soon.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: wvhoo

                                                                                                **********Here is the link for the reports of the get together:

                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683743

                                                                                                Thanks to you all for such a great evening!

                                                                                                1. re: wvhoo

                                                                                                  Only a couple of us? Hmm which ones didn't you like? Just kidding of course. It was good meeting you too (and everyone else). Warmed up the belly for such a cold evening.

                                                                                                2. If anyone is interested in GK for lunch, last Sunday of the month please see

                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683743

                                                                                                  1. Greg Cox review
                                                                                                    http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/03/1...

                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: kizil

                                                                                                      I happened across this thread a couple weeks ago and then a day or two later, saw a favorable review in the N&O. So after years of turning up our noses every time we drove past Gourmet Kingdom (as we don’t do Chinese buffets) we made our first visit there last night.

                                                                                                      As an aside; we’ve traveled pretty extensively in Asia including more than one trip to mainland China (as well as others to Hong Kong and Taiwan) so we feel like we have a pretty good idea of what “real” Chinese food is like. And I have to say that Gourmet Kingdom is about as close to “real” Szechuan as we’ve eaten this side of China Town.

                                                                                                      We ordered way too much food for 2 people but as a result, we were able to enjoy leftovers for lunch today. We would have loved to order more but decided on:
                                                                                                      H31 Griddled Cook Prawns
                                                                                                      L2 Lotus root appetizer
                                                                                                      R7 Kung Pao Chicken
                                                                                                      S1 Eggplant with garlic sauce

                                                                                                      Our favorites were the Prawns and Eggplant. While not bad, I would have to say our least favorite was the Kung Pao Chicken. It could have been spicier. We could see the chilies in the Kung Pao but after eating the prawns, the spice seemed mild in comparison. Maybe if it had been served first, we would have felt differently. And interestingly, while listed as an appetizer, the Lotus root was the last dish served.

                                                                                                      We enjoyed the flavor and did feel a slight tingling from the Szechuan peppers in the prawns, but the sensation paled in comparison to what we experienced in one dish in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province, which shares a border with Szechuan as described in a review we wrote at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/393643. The chilies in that dish had more of a citrus flavor and looked more like a small tight flower bud than a typical pepper.

                                                                                                      But back to Gourmet Kingdom; the service was decent and the bathrooms (I only saw the gent’s from the inside) not as bad as expected from previous postings and thge food was great. We’ll definitely be back…soon.

                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                      Gourmet Kingdom
                                                                                                      301 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510

                                                                                                      1. re: mediakzar

                                                                                                        The prawns and eggplant are good. The kung pao lotus root is better than the appetizer and any of the spicy fish dishes like Tian Fish are good if you like really spicy. Cumin Rubbed Lamb is also a good dish.

                                                                                                        1. re: mediakzar

                                                                                                          They must have been having an off night with the eggplant the time Rory and I went; it really wasn't anything special on a table full of really great food.

                                                                                                          1. re: mediakzar

                                                                                                            Glad to read another good review on this spot. I hesitate to order Kung Pao Chicken in an authentic Sichuan restaurant even though I know it's an authentic dish served in the province. I'm concerned that they'll dumb it down out of habit.

                                                                                                            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                                                                                              I know what you mean. But I can promise that the kung pao lotus root was fantastic.

                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                I was there with my dad & the fresh tofu with mushrooms was fantastic, also the young soybeans with potherb.

                                                                                                                1. re: Rory

                                                                                                                  Rory is right. The tofu w/ mushrooms is great

                                                                                                        2. After a number of good experiences here, we were there for lunch Friday, the buffet is gone and so were the people who were so helpful before. Ordered from new lunch menu and both spicy shrimp and garlic chicken were pretty ordinary. Service was terrible. We were there nearly an hour before our order was brought out. What a disappointment.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: yahooer

                                                                                                            Do you mean the people who previously took it over and made it wonderful are now gone or do you think it was just that particular lunch service?

                                                                                                            1. re: yahooer

                                                                                                              We went last night (and were thrilled to have Rory and her father join us) and it was still absolutely wonderful. The service wasn't great (obviously a new waitress - but she did pull over managers, etc. to help when she didn't know the answer to any questions we had). I'm not going to remember the names of all the things we tried, but I can say that my husband, Rory and Lulu really loved the pork dumplings; there was something like soy greens and pot herbs that we got as a starter that was also just wonderful. The name doesn't do it justice. Husband got the hottest chicken dish on the szechuan menu (again, sorry that I can't remember the name) and loved it - it is Definitely spicy. I tried it and also liked it a lot. Rory and I shared the mushroom with tofu (a little smokey for my tastes, but I can see why others love it), and a fresh tilapia (from the tank, I think) cut up and served with tofu and a spicy sauce - I loved this. Rory's dad got twice cooked pork (forgive me if this isnt' the exact name) and he and my husband were very happy with it. Tons of food, everyone happy and well fed, and we brought home leftovers (thank you Rory and dad for your generosity). So, nothing to worry about with quality levels dropping. The waitress said that they were trying to get their wne/beer license, but I'm not really sure she had any real information on this.

                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                Thank you!

                                                                                                                I was really hoping yahooer had just experienced a glitch rather than a new trend.
                                                                                                                Your report sounds like the goodness is still there! I hope to revisit soon.

                                                                                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                  I really don't think you'll be at all disappointed. The manager was very helpful in pointing out which things were best suited to what we wanted. I asked him about the seafood dumplings (I believe it was Suse who raved about them above) and he told us he was sorry, but that they only made a certain amount each day and had already run out. I see that as a good sign.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                    Absolutely, the food was first rate, those dumplings were really fresh. Our waitress was kinda clueless but as LM says she pulled the manager over. And he was extremely helpful.
                                                                                                                    So I'd ignore the poster and go:) I love the last minute invites, it was great meeting up with excellent LM, the ever charming Lulu & her dad.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Rory

                                                                                                                      Maybe it was just a glitch. We'll give it another try when we're in the neighborhood and report back. You've all given me some hope.

                                                                                                            2. I have been enjoying reading all of the information on this thread. I want to check out Gourmet Kingdom but here is my question -- Is any of the food on the "authentic" menu not spicy? I love Chinese food but can't eat really spicy things. I lived in San Francisco for 15 years before moving here so I have had lots of fabulous Asian food but I always have had to get the restaurants to make the food mild. Will I be able to find good food that I can handle at Gourmet Kingdom? Thanks!

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                                                                                                              Gourmet Kingdom
                                                                                                              301 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510

                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Carolina Girl

                                                                                                                Absolutely there are things that aren't spicy. The two tofu dishes I've tried haven't been spicy. That said, I tend to like spicy food so when I order I tend to order the spicy stuff.

                                                                                                                You might want to try the Shanghai menu at Red Lotus. People rave about that, and it might be more up your alley. Still and all, I think it is worth giving GK a try. They do the whole red peppers to indicate spiciness on the menu thing, and are also very helpful if you ask them questions.

                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                  When we went, our waiter was really helpful about negotiating how spicy we wanted the spicy dishes.

                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                    I like the shanghai menu at Red Lotus, but it's items can be hit or miss as far as taste goes. There are plenty of things as others have noted at GK that are not spicy and taste good. There is a Lamb dish specifically that I know someone really liked. I think it came with green onions. It was definitely NOT the cumin lamb which is spicy, but the menu will show this.

                                                                                                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                                                      I love, love love the Shanghai menu at Red Lotus and I have the same person who advises me and knows what I like so that helps.
                                                                                                                      At GK, the menu has little red chilis to tell you what's hot, so there is no problem & definitely just ask for the manager, he actively wants to help. So no problem getting unspicy dishes...

                                                                                                                      1. re: Rory

                                                                                                                        I've had more hits than misses at Red Lotus with their Shanghai. The two cold apps. I've had I liked. The Cuttlefish in Pot Herb Mustard I wasn't thrilled about. The beef wrapped in tofu skin I enjoyed a lot. I don't recall the other dish that I really enjoyed there though I want to try more stuff eventually. Luckily it is not far from where I work so I can call ahead.

                                                                                                                        This begs me to ask.. who has done take out from GK off their Sichuan menu and how was the experience?

                                                                                                                2. I was thrilled when I found this post a few days ago. I'm half-Chinese, my Mom lives in San Fran, and my Grandmother lives in Vancouver. I have been very sad here in the Triangle since Mama Wok's (funny name, but the food was good!) closed in Cary. Grand Asia has a great food counter, but couldn't find a decent restaurant.
                                                                                                                  So I ran out yesterday and ate at GK. I was with a vegetarian friend, so by no means have I sampled all the possibilities. But I was very happy with a Ma Pao tofu, eggplant with garlic sauce, and simple Chinese broccoli stirfry that we ordered. I will be back!
                                                                                                                  I am also looking forward to trying Super Wok :).
                                                                                                                  I recommend GK. The menu I was presented was a single large menu in both Chinese and English. The wait staff was friendly and helpful. The prices were reasonable and the portions were large. The tofu and eggplant were greasy, but in a tasty and authentic way. The greens were a bit on the salty side, but I like salt, and the wok air was fantastic.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: moxsa

                                                                                                                    You have to try the kung pao lotus root if you ever go back with your veggie friend. It's delicious. So glad you found this - makes all this chowhounding worth it. While it's not Chinese, you may also want to try the Korean Tofu soup restaurant near the 55/54 intersection in Durham.

                                                                                                                  2. Can someone tell me which dishes have Sichuan peppercorn ?

                                                                                                                    I tried this place recently and want to be a regular ... but I felt that they didn't believe me that I really, really want Sichuan peppercorn and a lot of it. I got them to tell me how to say it in Chinese after showing a picture on my iPhone (ha!) so I know we were both talking about the same thing. I was there at lunch, but ordered off the standard Chinese menu. Chengdu cold noodles: amazing. Dry fried shredded beef - not shredded. I've had this dish in several authentic restaurants up north and was surprised...not that it was bad, but it was more like steak fry sized pieces of beef and a good bit of gristle. I'm hoping that they didn't have beef shredded for lunch and chose to substitute, although, I know this dish (and make this dish)...no peppercorns in either dish.

                                                                                                                    Anyway, I want to go back, am not deterred. But if someone could direct me to the peppercorn dishes I'd be most appreciative! I have a similar problem at Super Wok :(

                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Barbara

                                                                                                                      super wok does not use sichuan peppercorns, to my knowledge.

                                                                                                                      GK has them in the braised fish dishes, i think H13. i've asked for it ("mah-LAH") in double cooked pork, mapo tofu, dan dan noodles.

                                                                                                                      here's another thread that may also help:
                                                                                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683743

                                                                                                                      1. re: cervisiam

                                                                                                                        Thank you!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Barbara

                                                                                                                          We've become regulars at GK and while we have a few favorites, we like to try at least one new dish each visit. I'm not sure if it is Sichuan peppercorn but the biggest mouth buzz I've felt is from the "griddled prawns". Mighty fine.

                                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                                          Gourmet Kingdom
                                                                                                                          301 E Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510

                                                                                                                        2. re: cervisiam

                                                                                                                          While I love GK their mapo tofu and dan dan have disappointed me. Superwok does it better.

                                                                                                                          1. re: bbqme

                                                                                                                            would love if SW used sichuan peppercorns in their dan dan noodles:
                                                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6837...

                                                                                                                        3. re: Barbara

                                                                                                                          Pretty sure the griddled prawns and "boiled" (should say braised or stewed) sichuan fish (?) have them and both are quite tasty.