HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >

Discussion

Gourmet Kingdom (Carrboro) issues?

  • 34
  • Share

I heard that recently the head chef of GK left over wage disputes and as a consequence, the food there is no longer as amazing. Can anyone confirm/deny? It would be tragic to lose such a gem.

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. just ate there last night, it was the Moon Festival and the place was packed with Chinese people. The food was amazing, had Sichuan lobster, pan-fried pork dumpliings and sichuan beef. The best chinese food I've ever had and the freshest. Warning though, the Sichuan beef was way too hot for me & I happily make Southern Indian food.
    It was crazy last night so unless you speak Mandarin I wouldn't go on a holiday, as the waiters' English is kind of limited. But the manager was extremely nice, apologized heartily & didn't charge for the dish that was forgotten. I definitely intend to go back.

    1. Ate there on Wednesday, everything was as good as usual. Had the double-cooked bacon, the cumin lamb, and the Cheng-Du dumplings. The dumpling were a little more delicate than usual and kind of fell apart, but everything else was fresh and tasty.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Bricoleur

        We went Saturday night and didn't taste a slip in quality at all. We had three dishes we hadn't gotten before so no direct point of comparison but thoroughly enjoyed all three:

        Dan dan noodles: bathed in chili oil but didn't feel greasy. A bit hard to eat owing to the length of the noodle but well worth the effort
        stir-fried string beans: saw these on two tables while walking in and had to try, great choice, shredded pork and smoked tofu in garlic sauce: a bit more cilantro than anticipated but it lightened the dish nicely. The tofu had a wonderful texture and the garlic in the sauce was subtle, not overpowering.

        Also, the portions seemed slightly bigger than the last time we were there.

        1. re: brokegradstudent

          I think their homemade tofu is one of the most ethereal things I've ever eaten. Glad to hear it is still up to snuff.

          1. re: LulusMom

            Did a group ever form to go here?

            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

              No. There was a lot going on that day. We're looking into maybe late Nov., although that seems like a busy time.

              1. re: LulusMom

                Well in true Chinese fashion if they are open around Christmas.. you can bet Jews may go there.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  When I lived in DC, I *always* went to the local chinese place for Christmas. The only non-jew in the place (well, me and my ex). It drove my mother crazy (which, of course, made it even more appealing).

      2. I went for lunch after reading this, just to see for myself-- it was every bit as delicious as before. Had the Red Chili Beef Tripe and it was terrific.

        1. Has anyone tried banquet style dining at GK? I'm thinking of it for a 12 or so person dinner, but given that the banquet menu is only in Chinese, I'm slightly intimidated.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Remsleep

            I'll say this.. a group of hounds at 10-15 went awhile back. We ordered roughly 12 dishes including apps and passed the other around. It was maybe 7-10 a piece. So if you don't want to order the banquet you can go a la cart and it will probably be fine. There will be a lot of dishes on the table and you are not guaranteed the order. See the other Gourmet Kingdom post(s) for more descrip.

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

          2. Sorry to say that the head chef has left Gourmet Kingdon, although I think it was much more recent than the August 20, 2010 date of the OP. We have been regulars there for about a year and a couple months ago, we began to notice changes in some of our favorite dishes. Last week, I asked one of the waits if there had been a change in the kitchen and he confirmed that there was. The menu has not changed (other than nightly specials) and we will continue to go there as we still think it is the most authenic Chinese in town but I'm afraid there has been some drop off.

            1. I just saw a Yelp review that said legendary and elusive chef Peter Chang has taken over - this review was from February though, and I can't imagine the food would have dropped in quality. Anyone know?

              3 Replies
              1. re: Barbara

                haven't eaten there in ages, but my bus stopped at GK by last week and I could smell the cooking oil inside. Ugh....such a pity

                1. re: Rory

                  Oh no! How the mighty have fallen...

                  I moved to Wilmington a month ago and am desperate for even bad Gourmet Kingdom. It's a desert here, I tell ya.

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

                  1. re: Barbara

                    We don't eat at GK as frequently as we used to but we went by a couple weeks ago and the food was actually better than it was when I wrote my March 17 review above. I'm not sure it was Peter Chang good but it was way better than most Chinese food you can get in the area and we will go back.

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

              2. Had lunch there just last week, and there were no issues. The food was at least as good as we'd encountered before. We took a friend to whom we had raved to about this place, and he fell in love with it.

                Funny thing, he wanted to try something new, so he ordered the Duck Tongue dish - I did not know that a duck's tongue had a bone like piece in the middle. That was creepy.

                1 Reply
                1. re: fredb2548

                  Me either. I wasn't sure how most people eat them so I just chewed through it. Though the duck tongue for me was from Red Lotus.

                2. I ate there last month and it was as good as ever. I think this is by far the best restaurant in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. We are so lucky to have it!

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: ksabbeth

                    wow that's good news! it must have been the heat.

                    1. re: Rory

                      Glad to hear that GK is still on track. I can't call it the best restaurant in CH/Carrboro, though it surely is the best Chinese restaurant in the CH/Carrboro area, IMO. If you like the tastes of Sichuan, you'll find similar flavors on the menu at Lantern taken to a whole new level.

                      Recently at Lantern, I had a special appetizer of carpaccio dressed with chiles and sea urchin oil. It was umami central, so tasty.

                      1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                        I went back a couple of weeks ago and it was still terrific - had the Szechuan spicy dried beef appetizer and my favorite, Chengdu cold noodle. Both were cold dishes and I wouldn't normally do that, but I was there alone and that's what I wanted. I was nearly dying of the level of heat but it was worth it. Really wish I could go back more often, I'd love to try the kung pao lotus root...I am trying to go vegetarian...

                        1. re: Barbara

                          Last time I went, which was much too long ago, I had and loved the lotus root. Also well worth trying if you want to go veg is any dish made with their homemade tofu. Really amazing. and they're willing to make the dishes without meat, if they normally come with it.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            was just there, Saturday and the food was excellent. The place was packed. The special "Whole frog" so glad I'm veg;-)

                            Their tofu is so fresh try the Mapo Tofu it has a bit of meat flavouring if that helps you, the tofu with mushrooms is very subtle, great dish!

                            1. re: Rory

                              We went last week and something was definitely off. The kung pow lotus root that we love so much wasover fried to the point where it had shriveled. Some of the other dishes were over salted. What makes it surprising is we were there on a Wednesday night (my middle son chose GK for his birthday dinner) so it's not like they were slammed. Still good enough that I won't give up on them-- plus the owner is so nice-- but it was disconcerting.

                              1. re: bbqme

                                We're there about once a month or so. The only problem we've had is inconsistent spiciness. Different visits have yielded very different levels of heat in the same dish. One time a dish will be blazing hot, the next it will be very tame.

                                Both iterations are tasty but it makes it hard to recommend dishes for a particular taste.

                                1. re: brokegradstudent

                                  We've had that same problem not at GK, but at Super Wok. We determined that the variable was the waitperson. If the waitperson knew us, we got spicy food. If not, it was distinctly "Americanized."

                                  This weekend we had a waiter who, in the past, had apparently told the kitchen to tone down the food for the Anglos and we were served a very blah meal. This time the Spouse reminded him how he had altered our order last time and how we did not want that to happen again. We got the correct spice level.

                                  Could your problem be similar?

                                  1. re: rockycat

                                    Actually, now that you say that, our take out orders are routinely spicier than when we eat there. One time we ordered take out and I asked if a particular tofu dish we hadn't tried was spicy (a friend who doesn't cope with spicy food. The women on the phone said no and I replied something like "ok, good". The dish came super-spicy. I think somewhere in the chain of communication, not spicy switched to v. v. spicy.

                                    Once though, whoever started the dish substituted what tasted an awful lot like jalepenos for green bell peppers in a lamb dish.

                                    1. re: brokegradstudent

                                      when i was there i noticed the non-chinese/speakers? diners are seated in the window booths, maybe to have english speaking staff but yes, I'd suggest finding someone you know or the owner to make sure your food is hot etc...

                                      1. re: Rory

                                        I feel like in the past one of us (maybe Suse?) knew how to say "please make it hot" in Chinese. I think that would be really helpful, and I thought I had written it down at the time, but can't seem to find it.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          Mala (pronounced Mah Lah) is what comes to mind.

                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                            Thanks - could be very useful. But I have to say, I'm not so excited about this place if the inconsistency is happening so often.

                                2. re: bbqme

                                  I've had the same saltiness issue -- I really like pork with garlic and sometimes it is Lot's Wife salty and sometimes it is not. I've also noticed that there is variability in the dry fried v. gloppy nature of some dishes and have discovered if I just ask for it dry it comes out the way I like it.

                                  1. re: omoshiroi

                                    Yuck, hate gloppy. Good to know that there is an advance fix for this.