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Kowloon-Awful!

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I get together with some old, dear friends two or three times a year to have some fun and to go out to eat at places funky, tacky, or both. Sometimes we have cravings for pu pu platters and Chinese food from the 60's. A few years ago we hit South Pacific in Newton and were pleasantly surprised. Not as bad as we were expecting. In fact it was pretty good. So the pu pu platter cravings hit us again. I suggested Kowloon thinking that would satisfy our need. The last time I was there was 1969. Well it was awful. Tough pork strips, soggy wontons, tasteless chicken wings. i know, I should have known better but this did not even meet our low expectations.

How can this place still be popular and how can the Andlemans and the Phantom think so highly of this place?

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South Pacific
1152 Beacon St, Newton Highlands, MA 02461

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  1. Any Doug Mirabelli sighting to report?

    1. I was there a few years ago for the first time and had the luncheon special of lobster sauce and a few mai tai's and I thought it wasn't bad...

      2 Replies
      1. re: observor

        Did you have the Mai Tais first? That usually tends to adjust your palate accordingly.

        1. re: Uncle Yabai

          Actually, I did...you may have a point, but I thought it wasn't bad...I would have another try of it...maybe

      2. Awful, just awful!!!
        CocoDan

        1. Kowloon is open late, which makes it the place of choice after a show with a few of the community theater groups around here. I have honestly never found anything there I would say is good. However, there any many people I know (all who grew up here) who genuinely like it. I've just come to accept that there are places, such as Kowloon and Prince PIzza, which genuinely appeal to one group of people around here. I really don't think these people are faking it, they really do like it.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Chris VR

            I see a few people on the Best Wings thread giving a shoutout to the Saugus Wings. I guess I"ll try those the next time I get stuck going there. These must be different from the winds that come with the Pu Pu plater, which, as chuck s said, are tasteless (well, except for the taste of salt) and dried out, in my experience.

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            Pu Pu Restaurant
            2060 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

            1. re: Chris VR

              Their usual pu-pu wings are bog-standard crispy-fried wings, which are fine if that's the kind of thing you like; never saw the appeal myself. The Saugus Wings are covered in a thick, dark, sweet garlic-soy sauce.

            2. re: Chris VR

              I have never eaten at Kowloon, as I am rarely in that vicinity. However, even though my general taste in Chinese cuisine is generally aligned with other Hounds', sometimes I get a craving for the "Chinese" food of my Brooklyn childhood. My parents did not know any better and at that time, in that neighborhood, it was what was available. Chicken fingers, alone or in combination with some gloppy vegetables. Egg rolls. Sweet and sour fill-in-the-blank. Those fried noodles that were intended to go into your egg-drop soup but always ended up being treated as an appetizer. And so on. So even though on any given day I would probably want to eat at Golden Garden or Qingdao or Shangri-La or any of a number of places in Chinatown, at least in my book there IS a place in the food universe for restaurants that cater to "pu pu platter cravings".

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              Shangri-La
              149 Belmont St, Belmont, MA 02478

              Golden Garden
              63 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA 02478

              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                Oh, I agree, and I want Kowloon to be that place, with its kitschy decor and all. It's just not, for me. If you're going to serve puffy battered chicken fingers and I'm going to be able to enjoy them, they need to be hot and fried correctly. Egg rolls need to not have a weird funny taste to them, and also need to come hot. I definitely think there's a place for "Tiki Cuisine" in the food world. I just need it to still be good.

                1. re: Chris VR

                  At this point I think I am just going to have to try the place! I have to go to the North Shore next Tuesday anyway to pick up my last winter veggie CSA share of the season, and that means I have to stop at Karl's Sausage Kitchen along the way, so I WILL be going up route 1. Plus I need to leave time to visit a quilt shop up in that area. So the timing is perfect for a lunch at Kowloon, and a chance to determine my own opinion. To compare with my childhood, my lunch will HAVE to include egg rolls, chicken fingers, egg foo yong.... starvation diet until then!

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                  Karl's Sausage Kitchen
                  142 Broadway, Saugus, MA 01906

                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                    Okay so I went. A fellow Hound, who shall remain anonymous unless they out themself, bravely came too.

                    My verdict? The nay-sayers are right. I found the food overall to be greasy. I was left with the feeling that at least some of the food may have been pre-cooked and then finished when ordered. (This was especially true for the lo mein, which was soft to the point of the noodles breaking up when you tried to lift them from the plate.) The Kowloon wings left me wondering why so many people (including a friend who does not frequent CH) rave about them. How disappointing. I was all set to fall in love with a place that could satisfy my periodic cravings for good bad Chinese-American food. (You know what I mean.)

                    This is NOT to say that people who love Kowloon are wrong. It could be a matter of what we grew up eating, or simply differences in taste. By all means, enjoy. It's just not for me.

                    For the record, I had a build-your-own-plate with chicken fingers, egg roll, egg-foo-yong, and lo mein. I shared an order of Saugus wings with my fellow Hound.

                    1. re: PinchOfSalt

                      i just want to jump in to say that those lunch specials always taste like re-fried leftovers from the night before. I have a friend who grew up in Saugus and moved to CA. When he comes home, Kowloon is the first stop. Most of the things we order at dinner (fried scallops, pork fingers, shrimp fried rice, a seafood entree or two etc) are usually freshly cooked and MUCH better than anything they serve at lunch.

                2. re: PinchOfSalt

                  ahhh the Aloha, in Hingham, you just described it to a T. My folks would take us there on new years.......it's a very happy memory of what I imagine now was some very bad chinese food.

                  1. re: devilham

                    Aloha is now an office building with a Starbuck's. We occasionally drank there when we were in our late teens.

              2. But it's a favorite of the WWE wrestlers!

                Not sure why you'd expect anything other than pedestrian at Kowloon.

                1. While I'll be the first to agree it is not fine dining, I am very surprised by the dishes you had an issue with. Their wings are heavily marinates, to the point of almost salty usually, never tasteless and their pork strips tend to lean on the fatty side, so I've never encountered a dry one except maybe in my home leftovers a few days later. This does not mean what you experienced didn't happen, it's just really odd for them. Sorry you hit them on an off night....their Pu Pu Platter is usually very tasty :(

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                  Pu Pu Restaurant
                  2060 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                    I wish I could agree. At least twice I've gone there all ready to buy in- scorpion bowl in hand, Pu Pu platter ordered... and it's just blech. The pork, in my experience, has been either all fat or all dried and chewy. The crab rangoon are THE WORST. You need to have a certain suspension of authenticity belief just to order crab rangoon, but I can do that and love the crunchy, creamy and complete inauthenticness of them. I've never had them as bad as they are at Kowloon, wrapped as they are in a tough fried wonton shell, and never delivered hot. The wings: salt salt and over fried. I can't remember what else comes with the platter, but I don't think I can recall one thing that I ever actually enjoyed eating. But look, as I said upthread, I understand that for some reason, call it voodoo, call it nostalgia, call it the whims of fate, that people genuinely do like Kowloon and its food, and I don't. C'es la vie, no harm, no foul.

                    1. re: Chris VR

                      Crab rangoon. Is that what they were?

                      1. re: chuck s

                        Yep. Anytime I've ordered it anywhere else, it's been a light, crispy flaky fried wrapper, but Kowloon seems to use the same wrappers they use for eggrolls. Tough, chewy and just awful.

                        1. re: chuck s

                          Whoops, I take it back. Looked at the menu and it is "crispy wontons" that come with the pu pu platter, not crab rangoon.

                    2. Kowloon is not good food. I love Americanized Chinese. I know it isn't authentic. But, when done right, it can be quite tasty and, for me, comforting. My favorite birthday dinner choice during childhood was a Chinese place in a strip mall in suburban Denver. Ah, Chan's Inn, how I miss thee!

                      I will say this, for Kowloon: you can still have loads of fun when you go with friends and in the right frame of mind. It's ticky tacky at the highest level. Went with a group of friends a couple years back and had a riot- although my stomach was not pleased with the greasy, syrupy sweet mess I had just ingested. You don't go to Kowloon for the food, you go for the experience. (Reminds of another childhood favorite in Denver- Casa Bonita. The food is universally awful, but there are cliff divers! and mariachi! and crazy rooms to explore!)

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Kirs

                        Depends on the night too, went there with friends (over 10 years ago mind you, it was a while back), and had food thrown at us by a table of about 30 high school kids (they called us freaks, oh the irony). The wait staff moved our table (kind of unfair that we should have to move, but I could understand the logistics of it), and a good time was proceeded to be had. Awesome part was when they (the kids) got up to leave, they tried to do a dine and dash......you can't get 30 kids through a door at once!!! Needless to say there were busted right in front of us, our meal was schauenfraudilicous to be sure!

                        1. re: devilham

                          Best made-up word ever.

                          1. re: Alcachofa

                            I'm gonna start a restaurant chain with that tag line:

                            Bob's Crappy Chain Resto: "It's Schauenfraudilicious!"

                            1. re: Alcachofa

                              forgive my ignorance. how does this differ from Schadenfreude? Is it just an acceptable version of the same?

                              1. re: justbeingpolite

                                I think it's a joke in which devilham made a portmanteau word from Schadenfreude (with some spelling issues) and delicious.

                                Schauenfraud taken literally would be an odd German-Latin hybrid word about witnessing deceit, or possible another word for "trompe l'oeil."

                                1. re: Allstonian

                                  very nice explanation allstonian, thank you.
                                  Now just define portmanteau and trompe l'oeil for me :o).

                        2. My favorite Americanized is Billy Tse on Revere St. In Revere, and don't forget to order a "Man" Mai Tai!

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                          Billy Tse Restaurant
                          441 Revere St, Revere, MA 02151

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: phatchris

                            Your favorite is beloved by another well-regarded hound who selected it for one of her going away parties. (Miss you Rubee!)

                            The food is exactly what you want when you need to scratch that crab rangoon itch. There aint no shame in a pu pu platter.

                          2. I love how they still tout how Jerry Seinfeld performed there...20 years ago!

                            1. Kowloon served me what was very likely the worst food I've ever eaten in a restaurant. I had very low expectations and actually really like americanized chinese food (even food court stuff), but this was just absolutely disgusting.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: maillard

                                I can only assume that you and the OP went on really off nights... either that or their kitchen has gone way, way downhill recently. Their food has never been top notch Chinese, but a far cry from 'disgusting'.

                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                  That is certainly a possibility, but I won't ever go back to find out!

                              2. My boyfriend LOVES Tiki, so I get dragged to Kowloon's on occasion. It's just SO BAD. Seriously.