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Triangle: Gourmet Kingdom (Carrboro) Chowhound Get Together 1/27/10: Report

Several months ago Suse posted about this place. After much talk and a few false starts a group of us finally meet face to face and ate elbow to elbow!

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/664877

Much thanks to burgeoningfoodie for first suggesting the idea and to cervisiam for serving as the Chow coordinator and making it happen!

We will be posting about the experience and (hopefully) will have photo's of the menu and dishes up soon.

It was fun seeing the people behind the posts. The immediate ease and rapport between strangers was wonderful to experience - everyone was lovely, interesting and enthusiastic. Speaking for myself, it was a terrific evening and hope we can do this again!

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  1. I'm really sorry to have missed it, and can't wait to hear the details. Glad it was so much fun.

    1. I concur and I'm glad it worked out. The only issue maybe deciding on dishes and then where to stick the dishes when done passing them around. As was previously mentioned food was great and service even more so. This restaurant is the true definition of hiding in plain sight.

      13 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        So what was ordered? What were the stand-outs? Any misses? Did anyone ask about the BYOB issue?

        1. re: LulusMom

          we are waiting on the menu pictures to give the exact dish name. (and pictures of the dishes!)

          our waiter seemed to demur (is that the right word?) shyly when i asked if we could bring beer in. so...would they kick you out if you broke out the beer? it's still unclear.

          btw, suse was able to come and she was totally rocking it with the chinese speaking! it was awesome.

          1. re: cervisiam

            Perfect to have someone around to help translate! I'm really sorry I missed it. And thanks so much for asking about the beer. Maybe I should call the local ABC board and see if they have rules about places without licenses. I know some have no problem letting you bring your own.

            1. re: LulusMom

              not sure if this is outdated information, but this might help:
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/381977

              looking on the ABC website, there exists a brown-bagging permit:
              http://www.ncabc.com/permits/retail_k...
              # Brown-Bagging Permit. – A brown-bagging permit authorizes each individual patron of an establishment, with the permission of the permittee, to bring up to eight liters of fortified wine or spirituous liquor, or eight liters of the two combined, onto the premises and to consume those alcoholic beverages on the premises. The permit fee is $400.00 and may be issued for any of the following:

              1. Restaurants;
              2. Hotels;
              3. Private Clubs;
              4. Community Theatres;
              5. Congressionally Chartered Veterans Organizations.

              1. re: cervisiam

                Aha, very helpful info. My guess is that GK doesn't have the permit. Thats ok - I'm perfectly fine doing carry out or eating lunch there. And I must sound like I have a huge drinking problem, but it is just that when I get a night out away from being a mom, I like to have a drink (or 7).

                  1. re: meatn3

                    Precisely LulusDad's idea when told of the current findings. And thank you and Tom from Raleigh for understanding my plight.

                  2. re: LulusMom

                    LulusMom-

                    I think having a drink or 7 with dinner is perfectly civilized. Thanks for doing the leg work.

                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      LOL! I cannot believe I missed this evening! I always check out the ABC conditions before I commit to dinner at a place I am unfamiliar with.

                      I so hope another get-together is planned soon!

                      1. re: Tehama

                        Thank goodness I'm not the only ABC obsessed person on this board!

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Not at all!

                          Are you coming to the CH meet-up on Saturday in Carrboro for lunch? I just emailed Cervisiam today... I was way behind on this thread and somehow missed the first one.

                          I am so excited to try this place! Best!

                          1. re: Tehama

                            I'd SO love to come, but we're having a tea party at lunch this Saturday. Can we please please do it again though??

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              So long as there are people and a place.. I don't see why not ;-)

        2. A stellar evening! The food, the company, the conversation, the service -- all terrific! Great to share with congenial foodies who are open to (most) everything after a series of frustrating dining experiences with our vegie, "nothing too spicy", kosher, etc. friends. Though I think we could have been a bit more adventurous. Burgeoningfoodie, maybe you can nudge us a bit more next time. How was that fish eye?

          I think we had 8 apps and 8 or 9 mains.and the 13 of us polished off most everything. Portions were generous and I doubt anyone left hungry. Most everything was tasty and the spice level was perfect for me though we could have kicked it up a notch for some dishes.

          Correct me here, but I believe we had consensus on favs: eggplant with garlic sauce, kung pao lotus root, dried szechuan beef app, and surprisingly the tripe. Did we ever figure out which version we ordered? I liked the dan dan noodles, both fish dishes, the shrimp (griddled?) , twice cooked pork -- most everything actually. The one sorta miss was the spicy conch which wasn't bad --just not up to the standards of the rest of the dishes. I thought the mushroom soup was bland but I think I was in the minority here.

          We have the pics ready, but have had trouble publishing them on the web. As soon as my techie hubby has a breather from work, we'll get them up for last night's participants to review (I'm sure some of the labels need corrections) and then post a link here.

          Big thank yous to Suse, Cervisiam, and Meatn3 for your leadership. Sorry so many folks had to miss the fun. See you next time.

          11 Replies
          1. re: TerryG

            Mouth watering just reading the names of what you ate.

            1. re: TerryG

              Seems about right but with such a huge menu, we are all bound to uncover more surprises to tempt the taste buds. Heck if money weren't an issue I'd go back and try something different each time. 9 entrees sounds right and I don't recall the apps.

              Off the top of my head there were

              Apps.
              Conch
              Tripe
              Dan Dan Noodles
              Lotus Root chopped
              Dried Beef

              Entrees (rice aside)
              Kung Pao Lotus Root
              Fried Green Onion Tea Smoke Duck
              Ma Po Tofu
              Whole Fish
              Fish Fillets
              Twice Cooked Pork
              Eggplant in Garlic sauce
              Griddled Prawns
              Pea Shoots

              Soup
              Mushroom Bamboo

              Thats all I can remember.. Btw the fish eye wasn't bad I think it's more the idea of what it is than the actual taste. It was like a shot of slightly chewy fish soup ;-)

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Damn, all that for 13 people? Knowing how large the portions are at GK y'all can really put it away! :-) I wish I could have joined in but with 3 little boys, such events on a school night is impossible for me. We've had the kung pao lotus root, griddled prawns, and schezuan crispy fish fillet dishes so we know how good they are. The smoked duck sounds awesome and eggplant in garlic sauce is one of our favorites. May have to go for those next time.

                Did anyone else notice a glaringly obvious item missing from the menu? No squid dishes! They even have conch but no squid? I asked the waitress if they had squid dishes and I was just not seeing them or something was getting lost in translation and she said there indeed were no squid dishes. That griddled prawn dish with squid rather than shrimp would be wicked good.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  Forgot to add dumplings on the apps (some of which we doubled the order). Yeah it was good.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    Did you pick that on my rec in the other thread? If so, I'm glad y'all liked it. I got a haircut last Tuesday night and then called home to see what's for dinner and the wife said "leftovers." As I had leftovers for lunch I said screw that I'm gonna go get a bowl of those wantons. A couple of minutes later the wife called back and asked me to pick up pizza. Shucks, I would also feel andtaste those wontons in my mouth...

                    1. re: bbqme

                      I don't think these were the same ones. But we did consider those as well can't remember what it was called but it was on the same page.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        we were going to order 2 of F3 (chengdu dumplings). when I started to order it, the waiter suggested dumplings (maybe F2?) and that there were two types - meat and seafood. since one of the diners had a seafood allergy, we just picked the meat dumplings. i'm guessing they were F2, since they did not come in the red chili oil

                        1. re: cervisiam

                          I was wondering why we didn't end up getting those spicy wontons. Now I want to go back and try them immediately! The ordering part would have been easier had it been a big, round table.

                    1. re: cervisiam

                      Nice! I'm with the mom on this.

                      1. re: cervisiam

                        :-p I always thought there was some sort of tradition behind the fish eye be it a sign of good luck to eat one or a sign of friendship (or honor for a guest). Having had at least a small one, I can say that it really isn't that bad. Next time, as Suse suggested, I'll have to try and go for the cheek! Of course, I have my limits. I don't think I'd eat bugs or arachnids.

                        On a separate, but somewhat related note, I think it is funny what people will cook or eat. Souse meat is popular in some homes, but in some of those same homes they would turn their nose up at something like tongue (pickled or not) or some other form of offal. I just think things like that are interesting.

                  2. I was so happy to be able to make it last minute and it was great to have some real Chinese food with a group of people who were open to trying all kinds of things. I thought it went amazingly smoothly considering we were a bunch of people who didn't know each other. Thanks so much for organizing this. The only way to eat Chinese is with a big group. And yes, we ordered a bunch of dishes, but it wasn't bad for $20 per including tip. Unless they get a liquor license they'll never take off. I think they need a special menu instructing people on eating out Chinese style with suggestions for a combination of dishes for certain numbers of people. If they are still up and running when I'm back in town more permanently I'll go over there and see if I can sort that out for them.
                    My absolute favorites were the spicy dried beef app, the eggplant (stellar!) and the boiled fish slices with Szechuan sauce (amazing), but I liked that we got so many spicy dishes and none of them tasted the same. And I should point out, that none of these dishes were particularly oily, a sure sign of decent Chinese cooking. Most places rely on dumping a a pint of oil in the dish. It would be fun to organize some more of these dinners.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: suse

                      the boiled fish slices (fish fillets) are reminiscent of the 'braised sliced fish in spicy soup base' that i have had at little pepper (xiao la jiao) in flushing. brought back very fond memories...

                      1. re: suse

                        I don't recall if I mentioned this on the main thread but the other fish dish that I had mentioned (we didn't get it this past time) came in a big stone pot and was still bubbling when it came out. It had fish but it also was in a sauce with cellophane noodles and all sorts of other stuff in it.

                        I agree about the food being best enjoyed with others, but I think would hold true to dining in general.. although this was suited for the family style of sharing food.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Oops. I thought we were ordering the one you suggested.

                        2. re: suse

                          I'll disagree with you about not taking off without a liquor license part because the majority of their clientele is Asian and drinking liquor with dinner-- at least to my understanding-- is not a large part of Asian dining culture. I actually enjoy this aspect of dining at Asian restaurants. At non-Asian restaurants alcohol sales plays such a large role in generating profits and we sometimes feel that there is at least subtle pressure to buy alcoholic drinks, which we're not really into except for the occasional beer.

                          1. re: bbqme

                            I have to play my I-lived-in-China card for this one. I did not once go to a dinner in two years in China (late 80s, early 90s) where there wasn't at least beer, usually bai-jiu and occasionally wine (of the yucky sweet variety) as well. Forget the two forks for special occasions, in China it was all about the three glasses. I was never served tea with a meal (sometimes before). Going out to eat in China has traditionally been a special occasion. Groups sit around a round table, order tons of dishes which come out in succession, etc. Your glass is never, ever empty, so you have no idea how much you're drinking. The other way of going out to eat was to eat at a food stall or hole-in-the-wall dumpling place for lunch and no alcohol was involved. I'm sure it's more varied these days - I haven't been in years, but I can't imagine a big restaurant not having at least beer available. Anyway, I'd love to hear from some others who have been to China more recently than I.

                            1. re: bbqme

                              Having worked in a restaurant, I can't see how they wouldn't want all the extra cash that the liquor brings in. I mean, it is usually more than 50% of the net. But I do see your point; if you're not a drinker, it can feel uncomfortable sitting someplace where they expect you to shell out for wine, etc.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                The last time I was there the waiter said we could byob.

                          2. Finally! Here are the photos from the GK CH outing. They include 1) the menu and 2) the dishes we ordered.

                            http://gallery.me.com/bernieg#100190

                            Lighting was poor so the menu will be difficult to read online. Try downloading the pages and enlarging in your photo viewer. Hope this works.

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: TerryG

                              Looks absolutely wonderful. I'm now trying to convince my husband that we should have a family dinner there tonight.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                I am so sorry to have missed this dinner but I have the same kid problem as some others - weeknights just won't work. I wonder if we can put together an evening for those with kids and those without who can tolerate them. Mine is housebroken, er, well behaved in restaurants. :-)

                                1. re: rockycat

                                  sichuan peppercorns are a drug to me, so i'd like to go back again soon. maybe a weekend lunch/dinner?

                                  1. re: cervisiam

                                    I'm definitely game for a lunch! Lulu is a very daring diner (at least for a 3 year old) and loves meeting new people (as in, expect to hear everything that crosses her mind in great detail).

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Sounds like you've given birth to my child's little sister. You have some fun times coming up. Lunch on a Sunday could work for us. Weekends also make the drive to Carrboro less onerous since we live in Raleigh.

                                      1. re: rockycat

                                        On the daring eating, or on the talking?

                                          1. re: rockycat

                                            Maybe we can sit them together ... they can just talk at each other while they eat.

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              throwing out a weekend date (although i am tentative - depends if my Fri-Sat activities get canned due to another bout of messy weather) - Saturday the 13th for lunch?

                                              i also could do sunday the 14th, but not sure if that would ruin the MOST IMPORTANT HOLIDAY of the year :)

                                              1. re: cervisiam

                                                No can do this weekend or the next but I believer we are free the other weekends of the month.

                                                1. re: cervisiam

                                                  I am not sure that the 14th would work for me (though Chinese New Year would be an experience I'd love). Based on the suggestion, Valentine's dinner out may happen on the 13th instead. The weekend of the 20th I'm out of town for a wedding. However, the last weekend of February looks good for me.

                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                    ok let's tentatively plan on saturday the 27th - lunch?

                                                    1. re: cervisiam

                                                      Sounds good to me.. at the moment. I guess the 27th is just a good date to get groups together.. as that was the date of our previous gathering..

                                                      1. re: cervisiam

                                                        Cervisiam - are you volunteering to amass the emails and numbers of those who want to attend the lunch?

                                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                          yes i can coordinate again. <CH username> at netscape . net