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What to order at the Kowloon?

On a whim, Mr. Swank and I are taking a group of pals to the Kowloon for a rollicking cheesy time this upcoming weekend. What's good there? I'm thinking that we just go full out with a big ole grimy pu pu platter -- but are there any other signature, fun dishes?

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  1. Saugus wings are one of their signature dishes.
    What did this group of pals do to you to deserve this??

    1. I like their Mai Tais.
      I remember a pretty good Chicken Satay.

      1. Find Eddie Andelman on twitter. He is the king of this place.

        1. The Kowloon is a lot of fun. I always have a great time there. It's not fine dining, no, but it's FUN... and that's what's most important.

          Get the pu pu platter with Saugus wings. I also like the fried scallops and the teriyaki beef skewers.

          Their entrees and sushi are okay, but overpriced. I'd stick with apps and lots of tropical drinks. Get a scorpion bowl for two and have a good time.

          1. Hate to admit it but I think the Saugus wings are really good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pegmeister

              Compared to good wings pretty much anywhere else I don't even think the wings are particularly good. It is what it is, but it ain't about the food.

            2. Sweet and sour shrimp. Spare ribs on the bone. +1 for the Mai Tai.

              1. while I cannot help but love Kowloon for the experience, I did not enjoy the "Peninsula Hawaiian Duckling" - gray duck, bland sauce, mushy duck fat. I bet on it because it's on the "chef's specials" section and was polynesian.

                I'd _love_ to find just one awesome dish, though - that would be enough to make me go more than once every five years, so yay for this thread.

                I adored, however, my virgin piƱa colada...

                1. Um...scorpion bowls??

                  1. I'll 3rd the Saugus Wings. don't miss them.

                    1. I get dragged there for late night dining every once in a while. I thought the Saugus wings were fine, but I didn't love them the way many seem to. I've never found a noodle dish I like there and even their pu pu platter has never really hit the spot for me, even when I'm in the mood for that sort of thing. The sesame chicken is passable.

                      1. A taxi to Chinatown!

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            Ha. I agree.

                            I was just talking with a friend about how a good, americanized chinese place could be awesome. Berkshire pork spareribs on a pupu platter with a properly made tiki drink. Yes please.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              The booze is effective, but the drink quality after being spoiled here in Boston is sketchy. Fun, but lowbrow even for Tiki. I remember wondering which Suffering Bastard recipe they were using, and the answer was "none that you've ever seen" and their Mai Tai is by name only. The Scorpion Bowl at least comes in the proper glassware.

                              For food, I've been satisfied by everything I've ever ordered there. Not wowed or even notable to remember. The whole allure of the inside of Kowloon is what makes each trip memorable.

                              1. re: yarm

                                Oh I wasn't saying the booze was actually good. It isn't.

                                I was just saying that when I get dragged there I drink the booze cause the food is so forgettable.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  This may be worthy of a separate thread, but are there other places in town that serve decent Tiki drinks (proper glassware and all)? I've sought out Br. Cleve's residencies but besides that haven't seen much in the area.

                                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                                    Decent? Eye of the beholder, but Golden Temple at least makes a pretty stiff drink, if not 'good' per se

                                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                                      I believe both Brick & Mortar & Drink can.

                                      1. re: jgg13

                                        I've never seen Brick & Mortar do Tiki and I don't know anyone there who is a driving force behind those drinks.

                                        Scott Marshall was the driving force behind the Tiki drinks at Drink, and then he went to Hawthorne and got that moving, and then he left in October or November. Hawthorne still has the Swizzle section on their menu, but they got rid of the tropical blender drinks.

                                        Todd Maul at Clio knows his Tiki and is there most nights.

                                        Bobby McCoy is back at Eastern Standard (he was floating between the three establishments there) and is the force behind the Tikisms section of the menu.

                                        I have seen some Tiki at Backbar, but I'm not sure if any of the bartenders there are in to the style all that much.

                                        And Citizen has Tiki Tuesday but that usually only amounts to a single drink each week.

                                        One place to look out for is Ming Tsai's new place, the Blue Dragon, opening up around the corner from Drink in Fort Point. One of the bartenders from No. 9 Park is setting up the Tiki program there.


                                        1. re: yarm

                                          I've seen pics on twitter that include the full on tiki glass at B&M. It could be that the individual(s) have enough pull to get such things but that they don't typically do them.

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            I don't doubt you that they have tiki glasses. I am wondering who is passionate about Tiki there. B&M is the type of place that pre-bottles their cocktails for more rapid service and on some nights would just prefer that you order beer and shots, and doesn't seem like the type of place that would make an 8 or 12 ingredient drink. This does not imply that they cannot make you a delicious Mai Tai -- just that the Tiki programs that have done noteworthy things in town have at least one person who wants to put the time and effort into the program. And to their credit, they do have a well-made Daiquiri and Corn'n'Oil on their menu.

                                            1. re: yarm

                                              The people I see posting them are heavy regulars - so like I said, it could just be an in crowd thing. I tend to assume that you're the in crowd everywhere you go though, so this conversation is interesting to me :)

                                          2. re: yarm

                                            There's a story trail of tiki out in Westborough I am not recollecting, but involves a proprietary Mai Tai recipe concocted at the Chengdu a few decades ago which then more recently found its way to Sapporo, possibly in relation to a family feud. I really shouldn't speculate. Probably a good story worth digging up for the pro-writers out there. But I did have the Mai Tai at the Chengdu and it was pretty good, though after two one is feeling rather frisky. I think there are two Mai Tais - one on the menu, one you have to ask for.

                                            The Chengdu is an interesting place in and of itself. The owner is a big wine enthusiast and a coupla years ago invested in a major renovation to accomodate his huge collection which is now on display, and on offer for pretty decent prices. They also split the restaurant up 3 ways into Vegas-y food court of sorts -- a wine bar, the Chengdu, and a Japanese kushiyaki joint with a sake list in the 90th percentile of this (sake-sad) town.

                                            The thing to do is build your trip to Westborough around a meal at Westborough Korean Restaurant with a session at the Chengdu before and after.

                                            1. re: Nab

                                              Just asked my pally about this tiki-tale and apparently the trail allegedly winds back to The Honolulu in Westborough, which is no longer. Following the closing, a couple of Honolulu bartenders took the Mai Tai recipe and ended up at the Dragon 88 and the Chengdu, one of them having left the Chengdu and is now at Sapporo, but the Mai Tai survives at all three today.

                                              Some pretty cool memorabilia of the Honolulu here:


                                          1. re: phatchris

                                            I have had terrible cocktails Tiki and otherwise at East Coast. Drink and highland kitchen are the two best I have run in to

                                            And dragon 88 in boylston might make the best Mai Tai in the state. Seriously

                                  2. It doesn't matter what you order. They will have your food out before you open the menu. The mystery that is Kowloons, Saugus wings are good though.

                                    1. Think you know exactly what to order! Enjoy what you're after but make sure that every table around the Swanks isn't regaled with stories of slumming it. Your "grimy" pu pu platter might be someone's idea of a rare, big night out. It's that kind of place.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pocketviking

                                        Kowloon is not that cheap;

                                        the Swanks could be eating pekin duck at china king.

                                      2. There is never any love for Kowloon...lol
                                        I've been going there since I was a kid and I can tell you it's not just a meal..it's an experience!

                                        One thing I have never had at Kowloon is bad service. I have always found the staff extremely nice..and very accommodating. They are one of the few Chinese places that don't charge you extra if you want to substitute on the PuPu platter.

                                        I agree with the others that the Saugus wings are a must have. They have a ginger lobster dish that's really good as well..but I think they only have it during their "Lobsterfest" days. Besides the Saugus wings..the vegetable lo mein is my favorite thing to get there.
                                        Oh..and they have the coolest fortunes in their cookies ;-))

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BlueMagic

                                          The service at Kowloon is one of the things that makes it a blast with big groups. They're probably the most accommodating and patient waitstaff in town. I've gone with groups of 30 people in which they were asked to split the check for each group of two or three... no problem. I've been in a group of 40 people when three unexpected extra guests arrived... and in minutes, the manager whisked us away to a new section with more seating; no problem. They know how to keep big groups happy.

                                          Contrast that with a recent birthday visit to The Chateau. Harried, grumpy waitstaff who sighed deeply in frustration if anyone wanted something like a refill on their water. An hour wait for the check. Food missing from many orders. Forgetting to actually take orders from half the table.

                                        2. They used to have something called flaming ambrosia. Like sweet and sour chicken on fire in a pineapple! Go have fun, eat greasy food, laugh, drink and who cares what anyone else thinks of the place. Wish I were going too!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Jpan99

                                            They still have the flaming ambrosia..it is one of DH's favorites. ( I think he just likes the special effects..lol).

                                          2. Chicken Fingers! Sweet and Sour Pork! Steak Har Kew! Hello, table for 23 please?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsofatso

                                              go on a night when they have the loungey music and sit by the fountains and thatched hut roofs in the middle. I wasn't sure what to recommend because the things we like are not fun or exciting or even shlockey.. they are just average dishes that we happen to like. We like the shrimp with noodles. Its just a huge bunch of tender, medium size shrimp in a mushy white sauce with veggies, mild but tasty, and we actually like the avocado and California rolls there. The Thai food is decent.. we get the asparagus and tofu but people like the thing in the pineapple shell. Iwould agree that most people go for the PuPu and Saugus wings and maybe the Eddie Andleman LoMein

                                              1. re: chompie

                                                What's "Eddie Andelman Lo Mein"? Spaghetti with sliced hot dogs and Cheez Whiz sauce?


                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  Their menu says "Shrimp, Chicken, Onion and Pea Pods over a Bed of Pan Fried Noodles with Black Bean Sauce. "A Special Dish Towards Wellness!" with the Approval of the "Fabulous Judi"


                                            2. c'mon Hounds, we've gotta find something here worth recommending. Kowloon is fun, and kind of an institution, and the menu is ginormous.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: enhF94

                                                Saugus wings, which reminded me of teriyaki wings finished with Chinese fermented black bean / garlic sauce. Not bad at all.

                                                Staff Meal Truck did a tribute version a while back.


                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  right. Forgot those had gotten multiple-source love (god help me, I'm too impatient to deal with the bones, leaving my O Ya's ballotine my only wing option. They oughta put a sign up front saying "$14 wings flat screen TVs")

                                                  1. re: enhF94

                                                    Honestly, I haven't explored the Kowloon's menu in depth, but I have a hard time encouraging anyone to eat this level of food even in jest. The kitsch appeal of the room isn't enough for me.


                                                2. re: enhF94

                                                  There's been plenty of recommendations here.

                                                  Saugus Wings are awesome. The pu pu platter's always good. They do half-decent sushi and their lo meins are worthwhile. I haven't had it myself, but I look forward to trying the Flaming Ambrosia next time I'm there. Any of that and a Scorpion Bowl to share and you've got a fun night. All that said, I'm a big fan of tiki kitch, and seek it out, so the Kowloon is right up my alley.

                                                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                    of all things that are half-decent, sushi is about the least appealing. It has to be really fresh.

                                                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                      Sorry, I should clarify :)

                                                      The sushi I've had there has been perfectly fresh. It's just been sort of sloppy, with rice going everywhere, and way too much sauce when there's sauce.

                                                3. The house special chicken wing appetizer.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Gordough

                                                      Saugus wings :)

                                                      They're chicken wings in a sticky, thick, sweet soy/hoisin glaze.