Kong Foo Vegetarian - Norwich, CT
According to the owner they have been open a little over a week. I found out about this place from a friend last night and went there today for lunch. I was so impressed I went back again for takeout for dinner.
The place is great! Food easily on a par with the vegetarian Chinese places I am most familiar with in Philadelphia's Chinatown. The space is large and airy, contemporary tables and chairs, lots of room between the tables -- they probably could squeeze a few more tables in if their business comes to warrant it. The people who run it are very nice and speak English much better than most Chinese-born restaurateurs seem to.
The food was great. I had the lunch special of vegetarian lamb in garlic sauce with a starter of hot and sour soup. The "chicken" in the soup and the "lamb" both came very close in texture to the real deal and the food was authentically spicy, almost too spicy.
For dinner I picked up an order of spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken for my wife and pan-fried noodles with veggie seafood for me. Again, both dishes were excellent and my wife, who in general does not like "fake meat" products liked the chicken very much. My only complaint about my dish was the the pan-fried noodles were stuffed into a Chinese takeout box and were harder to deal with than the more typical "pancake" of noodles I am used to.
The lunch specials are pretty cheap, either $5.25 or $6.75 depending on your choice of main dish. Dinner is a little on the expensive side, I think. "Beef" entrees are mostly $10.95, "chicken" $13.95 and the tofu or vegetable ones a bit less. For someone who is used to going to kosher chinese restaurants in big cities as I am these prices are typical, but my sense is that a non-vegetarian Chinese restaurant is considerably cheaper.
The location is not going to work in their favor, I don't think, as parking can sometimes be hard to find in that area and on-street parking is limited to 30 minutes, and we Norwich residents are not used to having to pay for parking. Of course they are diagonally across the street from Harp and Dragon which seems to be doing well and just expanded so maybe there is a possibility of life for downtown Norwich restaurants. I certainly hope so and I hope this place does well. There was clearly a lot of money put into opening this restaurant and it is probably the most sophisticated and urbane thing to hit Norwich in a long time.
Thank you for the detailed review. There was a wonderful veggie Chinese restaurant in Rye, NY called Green Symphony that closed years ago and is still sorely missed. They did such a great job with faux proteins that many dishes were better than the fish/meat dishes they copied.
I hope this place approaches that quality & inventiveness.
I couldn't locate a webite, but here's a menu:
Kong Foo Vegetarian Restaurant
85-91 Main St., Norwich, CT 06360