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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!


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              not sure if this is outdated information, but this might help:

              looking on the ABC website, there exists a brown-bagging permit:
              # 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


                    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

              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

              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.


                            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

                                2. At the risk of throwing out too many posts in one thread, I wanted to let you guys know that when I mentioned Chinese New Year coming up to the chef at the restaurant he told me there would be a large party of 40 on Feb. 13th (Chinese New Year's Eve), so the restaurant should be hopping. Since this conversation was in Chinese, I'm sure I missed a bunch of additional information, but If you're willing to eat Chinese style and not worry about all your dishes coming out at the same time, it could be a fun evening to check the place out.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: suse

                                    I'd love to go with another group though the 13th maybe when I do Valentine's out (given the awfulness of going on the actual day). Keep me posted about any future returns to GK.. even though at the last gathering I was the one living closest ;-)

                                  2. For those of you who sat first, does anyone know why we didn't get the tables in back with the Lazy Susan or was it that we just didn't bother asking?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                      I think they said the tables w/ the lazy susans weren't large enough to accommodate all 13 of us. I suspect they are for 10 folks.

                                      1. re: TerryG

                                        Oh okay. I'll have to keep that in mind.

                                    2. I popped in to try the dan dan noodles (good, but Superwok's is slightly better IMO) last weekend. While waiting for them to arrive I decided to kill time by looking at the buffet-- the food still looked terrible. But as I got to the back, lo and behold-- what's this-- a tank with live fish (talapia)! Did anyone else know about this? If so, shame on you for not reporting this find on chowhound! I asked the waitress about it as nothing on the menu hinted at this and she pointed to the whole fish dishes on the menu. Can't wait to try it next time.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: bbqme

                                        Wow - didn't see the fish tank, but we did have whole fish. It was nice, but I ended up liking the filets better - actually, I think that was partly because by the time the whole fish got to me there wasn't much left! I also thought the dan dan noodles were good, but not great. Try the eggplant when you go - it's really excellent. Still need to get to Superwok....

                                        1. re: suse

                                          So which is better? This or Super Wok? I am addicted to the tri pepper chicken at Super Wok. I live in Raleigh and didn't know if it were worth the drive.

                                          1. re: RaleighHound

                                            Based on what some Raleigh people stated who joined the last gathering. It seems they both are equally good and different. Super Wok may do one dish better than Gourmet Kingdom.. but then again Gourmet Kingdom may also do a different dish better than Super Wok... (disclaimer.. I've not been to Super Wok)

                                            1. re: RaleighHound

                                              We are in Raleigh and feel GK is worth the drive!

                                              Granted, we were able to sample a much wider array at the CH gathering. Based just on the eggplant (which we also had at SW) I feel GK is better. Atmosphere/comfort is better too.

                                              We'll do Fortune Palace since we live nearby. We will probably opt for SW if we don't have enough time to go to GK. If they were all equal in ease for us to visit, then it would be GK rather than SW at this point.

                                              I would love to do a CH gathering at SW to conduct a better comparison!

                                          2. re: bbqme

                                            btw, i remember SW's dan dan noodles as using very thin noodles, like vermicelli. i've always had dan dan noodles that used lo mein. i think lo mein stands up better to the ground pork and veggies (baby bok choy/pea shoots) that they add to the dish.

                                            the ground pork in GK's dan dan noodles is leaner (drier?) and smaller than i have had. personally, i would like bigger chunks of the ground pork. but -- to each his own.

                                            1. re: cervisiam

                                              hauled out to cary at lunch to get takeout from superwok today - dan dan noodles and double cooked pork. when i called, i asked for 'ma la', but i'm not sure if that was understood - "can you make them ma la?" "spicy?" "yes, extra spicy".

                                              SW's dan dan noodles are still made with the thin noodles, and the topping is mainly chopped preserved vegetable (ya cai) with a little ground meat. no vegetables in the bottom. i do think that these dan dan noodles have an addictive quality - because the noodles they use are so small, you want to keep eating. the lo mein (shanghai noodles) that i think is traditionally used seems to fill you up more.

                                              double cooked pork was a bit of a disappointment - pork belly/bacon was not used (see http://gallery.me.com/bernieg#100190/... for an example of what i look for), and instead of chinese leeks, SW used spicy peppers.

                                              finally, neither dish used sichuan peppercorns. (and that could be really a minor quibble because they do specify 'sichuan-style', not 'sichuan')

                                              overall, i really hoped that SW would be different from what i experienced last year, but it was not. perhaps a dine-in experience would result in more authentic sichuan cuisine, but i do not feel compelled to return immediately when GK is much closer to me and offers the drug that is sichuan peppercorn :)

                                              1. re: rockycat

                                                no problem, i'm trying to squeeze in as many visits as i can in the next few weeks. i know i'll end up there regardless of the situation :)

                                                btw, i went twice in three days last week (yikes! just realized that this is pretty unusual for me to frequent a place) - for lunch takeout (dan dan noodles and L4 - soybean/potherb mustard) and then again with other friends over the weekend (steamed tilapia; eggplant; braised duck; a tofu dish where the tofu is mixed with egg and shaped into squares, steamed/sauteed with shrimp/mushrooms/veggies in white sauce) braised duck had thick, almost like mungbean noodles in spicy sauce, was a little disappointing. the tofu dish was great. both the duck and tofu were written on a specials board at the front - our friends read chinese. (not sure if i'd be able to order it if i went back!)

                                                there was a group of maybe 15-16 at the same time we came in, and they applauded the chef when he came out. so i guess he's doing ok!

                                                1. re: suse

                                                  ah, wish i could join! btw, the boiled fish fillet dish that we ordered last month - was that H6 or H13? (Szechuan bean sauce vs Szechuan chili sauce)

                                                  i was just looking at the menu pictures, and i think the tofu dish from my visit last weekend was S11 (tofu, shrimp, ham, fish fillet, bok choy with white sauce)

                                                  1. re: cervisiam

                                                    I think it was with chili sauce. Thanks for the info on the tofu dish. I'm going to order it!

                                                    1. re: suse

                                                      It was indeed the Szechuan chili. I ordered it, along with a number of other items to-go a couple of weeks ago, and every dish I ordered was super-oily. Hopefully that was an anomaly.

                                          3. Folks, we ask that you comply with the following guidelines when planning your next get-to-gether, we will be removing your posts here which discuss logistics and planning:

                                            Hounds on many different boards have organized dinners and other gatherings and they're always a lot of fun--plus the reports after are great chow tips!

                                            We have a couple of guidelines we ask organizers to follow in order to keep the focus of the boards on chow talk and not on RSVPs and other organizational details. The main guideline is that posts to the boards should be announcements (and followup reports!) only--all discussion, scheduling and RSVPing should happen off the boards.

                                            The way most people handle this is by posting an initial announcement to their local board with an email address for people to contact if they're interested in getting together for a Chowhound dinner. If you use the 'report' link on that announcement, you can ask us to sticky it to the top of the appropriate board so it doesn't fall off the front page.

                                            They then use email (some cities even have established Google or Yahoo groups or listservs, etc, for scheduling dinners) to discuss the specifics of where and when to meet. Please don't mention Chowhound when making reservations or arrangements for your chowdown. Many Chowhounds prefer to remain relatively anonymous, and, as with any other posts on Chowhound, chowdown reviews should represent a normal guest experiencing the restaurant just like any other customer. If hounds have received special treatment because of their participation on the site, we will be unable allow any discussion or reviews of the event to be posted.

                                            Once the group has decided on a concrete plan, you can post a second announcement to the boards, with the specific details, again, including an email address so people can RSVP offline. If you 'report' that one, we'll sticky it in place of the original thread.

                                            Once you reach your deadline for RSVPing, send us a quick email to remind us, and we'll unsticky the announcement post (using 'report' doesn't work on an already stickied post).

                                            Then, once your dinner has happened, start a new thread so people can report back on what they ate and whether it was delicious so other hounds can benefit from your experiences.

                                            16 Replies
                                            1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                              where is today's post? what is going on

                                              1. re: Rory

                                                I suspect they are removing posts pertaining to making plans...who ever is coordinating should be e-mailed.

                                                It is worth the effort. The first gathering here was delicious and it was a great way to try a lot of dishes. Several participants brought a deep understanding of the food traditions and that added to the experience.

                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                  The biggest problem was figuring out what to order and who had or hadn't gotten part of a dish :-p

                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                    thanks meatn3 & bf but I don't know who is co-ordinating. blast i think it was saturday...

                                                    1. re: Rory

                                                      I have included you on the most recent details (check email listed in your profile).

                                              2. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                So how did the chowdown go yesterday? I was so sorry to miss it (although we really did have a lot of fun having our little family tea party). It is driving me nuts that I haven't made it to this place yet. Most of the posts make my mouth water. Can't wait to hear the highlights of yesterday's meal.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  the group consisted of 12 diners (TerryG, BurgeoningFoodie, Arebe and cervisiam plus other adventurous hungry friends) and we ordered the following dishes:

                                                  -L9 dried beef
                                                  -L3 jelly fish
                                                  -L10 mouth watering chicken
                                                  -L11 chicken with green onion vegetable oil

                                                  -Z1 double cooked pork
                                                  -S11 tofu with fish fillets/shrimp/bok choy in white sauce (not spicy)
                                                  -S7 kung pao lotus root
                                                  -R5 fried lamb with cilantro (not spicy)
                                                  -R8 cumin lamb
                                                  -H25 pecan shrimp (not spicy)
                                                  -string beans (waiter said pea shoots weren't that good that day; not spicy)
                                                  -H16 Tian An fish filets (not sure if the menu item is correct - it was small pieces of deep fried fish filets with peanuts, garlic and dried red peppers)
                                                  -mapo tofu

                                                  the dish selection had more of a balance between spicy and nonspicy dishes. there were some differences with the dishes from last gathering. the double cooked pork was not quite as 'charred', and the dried beef appetizers was a bit drier. (TerryG commented that it was almost inedible to her) personally, i would've hoped for more 'ma la' in the spicy dishes, but i think that may have been pushing others' limits :)

                                                  after tax and tip, it came out to 17 (well, if you want to be precise, 16.67) a person. burgeoningfoodie and Arebe were forced to take home the leftovers :)

                                                  1. re: cervisiam

                                                    The fish dish was not on the menu. Phonetically it sounded like Teeyen Shen fish. Yeah I mean my arm still hurts from being twisted so hard to take home some items ;-) I was sweating the whole time which may have been a combination of my skins tolerance for heat, me eating first the lamb and then the fish, and the rice taking whatever sauce was on top of it. Not complaining though. I may have to take the lead on the next grouping as Cervisiam may be tending to more important matters ;-) Good to see and meet (again) those that came out.

                                                    1. re: cervisiam

                                                      Fantastically descriptive reply - thanks so much cervisiam for being so helpful! Like you, I"m a big fan of spice/heat. Do they seem amenable to bumping that up a notch or two if asked? Are they helpful at letting you know which dishes are spicier?

                                                      So from what I gather from burgeoning, I'd have to ask for the spicy fish? I'm just beyond excited to try this place (flask firmly tucked into coat or purse).

                                                      When does your "tending to more important matters" start? Only online buds, but I'm thrilled for you, and eating all this lovely spicy foods will pay off well - my little one came out loving spicy stuff, and I figure at least part of that is the amount of it I ate while pregnant.

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        Just to clarify, there are plenty of other spicy fish dishes, but that particular one was not listed on the menu according to our waiter. I would recommend going and just ordering it as normal and then if you like the dish, asking for it hotter the next time you go. I mean I was sweating but my pores open easily and the heat is like Indian heat where it piles on the more (and more often) you eat it. As AreBe mentions and as you can see from the photos, the menu has a lot on it so what you don't get to this time you'll probably get to another time.. I think most of hte people who have gone more than twice will agree that dishes are pretty consistent. The twice cooked pork the first two times I saw it was more finely ground and less like pork belly than this last time around. Not a complaint just an observation. The drief beef was more jerky like but if you held it in the mouth it softened pretty quick. The Kung Pao lotus root was good as always but there were other dishes that were different and stand outs. I daresay that anyone who has been there has had something they didn't like (save the dried beef) unless it was by comparison.

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          hopefully i have another 2+ weeks of freedom :)

                                                          and yes, you can definitely ask for extra spicy.

                                                          i think the spiciest dish was the cumin lamb?

                                                          1. re: cervisiam

                                                            Enjoy the 2 weeks. They go by so slowly, and then all the sudden times speeds up crazily!

                                                            I've made cumin beef (from the Fuschia Dunlop book) and loved it. And this comes from a person who doesn't much care for red meat. Good to know that they let you ask for spicier, but that one can also trust that when they say spicy they mean it. I can't tell you how many times I've been disappointed by what Asian restaurants have served me as hot.

                                                        2. re: cervisiam

                                                          -The fried fish was probably my favorite dish. Coming from Mississippi I've eaten fried fish more than most folks, but never with a crust this good.
                                                          -The pecans were CANDIED in the pecan shrimp (divine sweet crunchy deliciousness) - the sauce was a bit mayonnaise-y
                                                          -The mapo tofu was nuggets of soy in a spicy sauce, and the tofu w shrimp etc. was patties of soy with the seafood & bok choy with almost no sauce
                                                          -The jelly fish was brought out near the end of the meal, which was perfect timing - the thin cool slices made a wonderful palate cleanser
                                                          -The dried beef was too dry when it was served, but my son & I attest it improved later, and the chili oil will be put to good use
                                                          -The pork belly in the twice cooked pork was mighty good
                                                          I so appreciate cervisiam for organizing this meal. I was 'scared' of the Chinese menu at 35 in Cary where this talented chef came from (or anywhere else), because I did not have a clue what to order. The menu here is HUGE and still a bit overwhelming, but I ain't afraid no more. I'll be back!

                                                          1. re: AreBe

                                                            I have heard mixed reports, but was told that the chef was definitely NOT from China 35 in Cary. Can anyone confirm this?

                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                              i think it says in the other GK thread, the chef came from 35 in cary. the waiter did say that he (himself) used to work there.

                                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                When I visited with him before our lunch he told me he had worked at 35.

                                                      2. Many thanks to you Chowhounders for enlightening me on this restaurant. It's a mere ten-minute drive for me, which may prove to be dangerous to my wallet.

                                                        In my opinion, this restaurant is among the best Chinese spots in the Triangle. I originally brushed off the place as a lame-o buffet spot. But I think they understand that there's this sweet spot for authentic cuisine that appeals to Chinese and adventuresome non-Chinese alike.

                                                        My daughter and I had the Griddle-cooked prawns and the dry-fried tea-smoked duck. (We also ordered the Szechuan spicy conch, which was a no-show, but that's okay...we had tons of food.

                                                        Both meals were outstanding. The duck had the perfect mix of smoke, skin, fat, and meat. Sounds gross writing it out, but wow was it tasty. The prawn dish was like a more interesting Kung Pao Shrimp with peppers, onions, peanuts, and roasted chilies. Generous on the prawns.

                                                        We completed the meal with a sweet red bean paste in rice balls. I swear the dessert had rose water in it, but our server said it didn't. Regardless, it was an excellent conclusion to an amazing meal.

                                                        Speaking of service, we were treated very well. There's a pride in the food and the menu that makes dining a joyful experience. Maybe I was lucky. But reading these other posts, I don't think so. I think there's just a great Chinese restaurant ten minutes from home.

                                                        Again, many thanks to my fellow Chowhounders for bringing GK to my attention. (And thanks, Chowhound Mods, for not deleting this thread!)

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: peetoteeto

                                                          Forgot to mention: our server recommended that we try "Osmanthus Cultured Sticky Congee" when we return. (Y3 on the menu.)

                                                          I know congee; didn't know osmanthus. Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.

                                                          The other half is getting back to Gourmet Kingdom!

                                                          1. re: peetoteeto

                                                            Glad we could turn your attention to it. Glad we are turning others on to it as well though for some it's a bit of a drive.

                                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                              thank you burgeoning foodie for contacting me. It sounds fabulous.
                                                              LulusMom, if you want to go there I still haven't and love spicy food. My dad would come and that would bump it up to 3.

                                                              1. re: Rory

                                                                Definitely up for it Rory. We could do lunch and bring Lulu along too, if you didn't mind that. I know you had my email at some point ... still have it? The next couple of weeks we're going to be traveling a bit, but once we get toward the end of March, we're very much interested.

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  I'd love to join for March but Passover is around that time and I'm afraid that food will be off limits for me during that time.

                                                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                    Early April then, if you're up for lunch? (and can deal with a cheeful but chatty 3 year old.)

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Passover is the first week in April this year (starts the night of the 29th, I think - whatever that Monday night is). I'd have the same problem as BF. And I'm so sorry we had to give it a miss yesterday. Aside from the marathon Purim baking session I discovered late Thursday night that there was someplace I HAD to be by 11 AM Saturday. That and the lousy cold I've had all weekend. Hopefully we'll make the next one.

                                                        2. I need to get back there when I hit town again. I went with some friends the last time I was home and we ordered way too much. Did I mention the spicy wontons? SO good. One of my new favorite things - not everyone loved them as much as I did, but I could have eaten the whole plateful. And the waiter did tell me we could bring our own beer. I'm just not sure if he's right about that - woudn't they need a license for that? In any case, they would never tell if they caught you with a flask. We sat at a big round table in the back room. Note to people into ambiance: the lights do turn down back there.

                                                          22 Replies
                                                          1. re: suse

                                                            Ambiance AND look the other way at flasks. The place just keeps sounding better. My husband isn't reading these posts and is still very iffy about the place based on previous walks by (smell and looks).

                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              late afternoon and young Lulu are just fine. I'm sure YL is quite the up & coming foodie:) We like fish, spicy food etc and wine, wine, wine:)
                                                              I just can't eat lunch at noon; that's breakfast coffee..lol
                                                              Just peeked through my old emails and found you. Tell me if you don't hear from me privately.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                I'm not sure how to do the whole email thing here. We probably should exchange emails so we could do some sort of spontaneous get-together there when I'm in town. I need those spicy wontons again.

                                                                1. re: suse

                                                                  Rory, just a quick peek in my in-box ... looks like there is something from you. Will read and respond after Lulu's dentist visit this morning. Suse (and all) my email (please put chow in subject line) is kari500 and the at sign nc.rr.com.

                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                    Hey, anyone up for yet another Saturday lunch chowdown? Just occurred to me that this Saturday would work for us, if any of you are up for it. My email is in my post above. Let me know if you're interested. We have to live by a preschooler's schedule, so we'd need to start around noon.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Wish I could but my wallet needs a little bit of a break as well as my belt ;-) This Saturday is also going to be unusually busy.

                                                                      You may want to see if Tehama and Tom from Raleigh are interested in this go 'round as they couldn't make this past weekend.

                                                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                        Sorry to miss you yet again burgeoning. Anyone who is interested please just let me know by, say, Thursday afternoon.

                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                          So it seemed that most people were unable to do the Saturday get together, but Rory (and her delightful father) joined Lulu and me at Gourmet Kingdom for dinner last night. A good time was had by all, even though the bottle of wine I brought was forced to sit undrunk. We got 5 dishes, much more food than was necessary, but we really wanted to taste a lot of different things. Rory, please feel free to correct any mistakes I make on what we got. So here is what I *think* we ordered:
                                                                          * kung pao lotus root
                                                                          * eggplant with garlic sauce
                                                                          * whole fish (crispy?) with chili or szechuan sauce
                                                                          * tofu with shrimp, bok choy, mushrooms in a white sauce
                                                                          * beef (with chili sauce?)

                                                                          For me, the fish, lotus root and tofu were the standouts (although the sauce I tasted from the beef was pretty wonderful - I just didn't taste the beef). I thought the eggplant was just ok - maybe the chunks were too big, so it didn't get that wonderfully melty thing that can happen with eggplant, wasn't really all cooked totally through. It was still good, just not as amazing as the other stuff. The tofu was a revelation to me - they make it there, and it was like a cloud in your mouth. I never would have thought of getting the lotus root if I hadn't seen the raves here, but I'm so glad we did. It was wonderful, as was the fish.

                                                                          I loved the food. I just really hope they do something about the ABC license soon.

                                                                          thanks to Rory and her dad for joining us. We had a great time.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            yay! so glad you enjoyed your dinner. that tofu dish is really great, and a nice balance to the spicy dishes.

                                                                            was the beef an appetizer? or a entree dish?

                                                                            1. re: cervisiam

                                                                              It really was a nice balance, that tofu. And I wouldn't have thought of it, but it worked perfectly.

                                                                              The beef was an entree. I"m not a big meat eater but Lulu enjoyed the bites she had, and I think Rory's father enjoyed it.

                                                                              It was a LOT of food. If there had been a sensible seeming way of bringing the rest of the fish home I would have done so, but it just didn't seem like it would work.

                                                                            2. re: LulusMom

                                                                              Yay! Glad you were finally able to get over there for a little bit of something. Yeah when we say family style. We mean it and thats without the heaping rice.

                                                                              I'm not sure I've had any beef main dishes... yet. I hope to get some different things each time and some things that I know our usually good (i.e. lotus root). The two lamb dishes that we had when we last went as a group were really good. One pretty spicy (cumin rubbed) and the other not which my gf really liked.

                                                                              Saturday afternoons are going to be tough for me because I am doing soccer in Chapel Hill now.

                                                                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                Just had a bit of the leftover tofu dish. Again, astonished at how lovely it is.

                                                                              2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                Well, now it's official: no byob, I suppose. Our waiter did tell us it was an option, but I guess he doesn't call the shots. Sorry about that. In any case, hope to join you sometime for a meal there.

                                                                                1. re: suse

                                                                                  flasks tucked in purses, we will get there! The guy said "we lost our license last week." But c'mon, they never had the license. As we were leaving I told him again that we'd very much enjoyed the meal, but that I'd love it if they'd get a liquor license. If enough people say it, maybe it'll come true (and I'll keep clicking together my ruby slippers).

                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    Oops sorry I forgot to look here;-) clueless moment. We had a fab time. As for the beef, it was I think the 2nd dish from the top under the beef entrees. My dad loved it and it was spicy. though I didn't taste it. The whole fish was in szechwan sauce, very moist.
                                                                                    The eggplant was cooked, it's not melty in chinese cooking, but I agree it was bland. The tofu, so fresh so amazing, I'm having another tofu dish when I go there... I loved the lotus root, great texture. The waiter was very helpful too.
                                                                                    We had a great time with LM & little Lulu who is an iconic delightful child:) thanks so much LM for making it possible!

                                                                                    1. re: Rory

                                                                                      Very much my (our) pleasure, and thanks for clarifying on the points I didn't remember. And aw shucks on the kind words for Lulu. It'll make her day.

                                                                                      1. re: Rory

                                                                                        I don't get it with the eggplant. It was one of the best dishes the first time we went. The second time it was still good but not as phenomenal as the first time. Shoot.

                                                                                        1. re: suse

                                                                                          Upthread there was a comment that some of the dishes the second time were a little different than the first, so maybe it just wasn't the eggplant's shining moment. It wasn't that it was bad, just that it was not very noticable in among all the other really great stuff.

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            I'd agree with LM, it wasn't bad at all, but it was just blah in comparison to everything else. I'm thinking with all our spicy food, maybe the chef made it uber bland to balance. That's cooking to the meal and not by wrote. The chef was very prominent coming out and chatting so that could be it.

                                                                        2. re: suse

                                                                          Suse, I just checked, you need to put your email in your profile. If you look at my name 'rory' it has an underline and click on it and on the right is my profile with email.
                                                                          So email me or redo your profile and I'll put you on the list that burgeoning foodie sent me and we can have food happenings:)

                                                                          1. re: Rory

                                                                            Well that list was specific for that group so we didn't email everyone.