Oh, how I love good Chinese food. I’ll go just about anywhere for it – passing by many a quick fix along the way. Unfortunately when it comes to solid home cooked Chinese food places, there are only a couple around, which means that I’m always interested when a new place restaurant up. Fortunately there is a fresh contender in town called Kung food, and believe me, the offerings are as good as the name. Not only is the food freshly prepared, the atmosphere is welcoming and the service is some of the best around. Maybe that’s because the owners, the staff, friends and family are some of the most spirited and enthusiastic people I have had the good fortune of meeting.
What’s so good about Kung Food? I believe that it’s the creativity. When a server at a Chinese restaurant actually asks me what I like to eat and how I like it… well, it’s kinda shocking. After I told the staff that I was a vegetarian, not only did I get a “I am too” from Hank Lin, the King of Boba (bubble tea), I also got a look of anticipation from the young girl who was apparently going to be cooking my meal. She was actually excited, and not just because I was writing about the experience.
Before I go any further, I must say how fond I am of a well-prepared bubble tea. One that is not too watery, yet flavorful, with plenty of tapioca pearls, the right size, solid straw… the works. Rarely am I satisfied. When I was handed a version that was expertly prepared – not too sweet with just the right consistency, made with ‘sugar in the raw’ and no artificial ingredients ala King Corn – I couldn’t believe my luck. I had just struck gold (only another lover of bubble tea would understand). Even if the rest of my Kung Food experience wasn’t up to par, at least I could leave knowing that there was a now a go-to for great boba in the city. Side note: You can order your tea sweeter, or less sweet.
L-R: Co-owner Edward Young, William Young, Winnie Chan, Hank Lin (King of Boba)
Thankfully, the rest of my stay at Kung Food reflected my initial intuitions. When I was handed a sampling of what I can honestly say was a true ‘vegetarian delight’ (complete with chopsticks), I smiled, hinted at a bow, and held my bounty high as I walked to my awaiting table. To my surprise (and yes, more shock), I found that my order was accompanied by three small side salads (a meal normally comes with two). One was a creamier take on an American favorite – potato salad, with hardboiled egg sprinkled on top. Another was an ode to Japan – a refreshing cucumber salad. The third was a light salad with a delicious house dressing. I had hit the trifecta. The vegetables served as the entree were perfectly cooked and seasoned – served on a bed of white rice. Exactly what I had bargained for. So many times Chinese food marinates in watery sauce, leaving the veggies sopping wet, dripping mush. Not this time – it was as if I had sat down to a home cooked meal. While the menu at Kung Food might be scaled down compared to other Chinese restaurants, their philosophy is to create a traditional family recipe for chicken, pork, fish, etc., and do it the best that they can – similar to being faithful to one Italian restaurant for its red sauce.
As I continued to sample everything, an unexpected delivery arrived at my table. The King of Boba had invented a new concoction that he wanted me to try. This time, instead of tapioca pearls nestled at the bottom of the cup I found a medley of succulent fruit. Now there are a couple of reasons why this was so brilliant. First, there are a lot of people out there who would like to try boba, but they just can’t get past the gummy tapioca pearls. The addition of fruit – still sweet, with a somewhat similar consistency – would appeal to a whole new segment of tea drinkers. The fruit is also healthier than tapioca pearls. Then, more than anything else, the drink was different – and from what I was told it was a creative twist on bubble tea dreamed up by the King of Boba at Kung Food. An original and tasty alternative to a drink that is already considered tasty and alternative.
Owners of Kung Food, Andy Liu (from NYC) and Edward Young (Buffalo guy), have created an Asian eatery that not only whips up delicious Chinese, it also offers some Thai* and Japanese dishes. A couple of the non-Chinese menu items are available now, including chicken teriyaki, while others (such as udon noodles, soba and sushi) will be introduced soon. While the lunch and dinner options may not be extensive, the initial offerings are top rate. The University District is lucky to have landed such a promising restaurant. I’m sure that it will be a big hit with the students. I’m hoping that the residents continue to support it this summer when classes are not in session. Sit down and take-out available. 好运
3268 Main Street
Buffalo NY 14214
*Credit correction: Loubert