Friday, July 10, 2009

Full Kee

We found ourselves way out in Virginia and in search of a place for dinner when I remembered reading about Full Kee (located in Bailey's Crossroads), a Hong Kong style Chinese restaurant. We had very high hopes when we saw the ducks (heads intact) hanging from the kitchen window and marinated pig intestines on the menu (sorry, no review of that dish!)

At the time, I didn't realize that there is another Full Kee a few blocks away from our house in Chinatown (err...Chinablock). It routinely is touted as the best Chinese food in Chinatown which isn't a terribly hard prize to win. Apparently, even Supreme Court justices eat at Full Kee.

We started off our Full Kee adventure with Hong Kong style wonton noodle soup. The wontons were fat and flavorful, but the noodles were kind of wimpy. It was pretty standard wonton soup with some ramen thrown in for good measure.

Next up was the Assorted Meat and Seafood Pan Fried Noodles. I grew up eating lo mein (soft noodles) but B opened my eyes to the world of Hong Kong style chow mein. When prepared correctly, the noodles are crispy but soften when mixed with the sauce. It makes for a one-of-a-kind texture that I love. Unfortunately, Full Kee went overboard with the sauce and there was a lot of gelatinous brown goopy stuff sitting in the bottom of the dish overwhelming the delicate noodles. They were, however, very generous with the "Assorted Meat and Seafood" part of the dish. Can anyone identify that crown-looking item in the middle of the dish? I can't, but it was chewy...

For our protein course we went with pepper beef with Chinese broccoli (gai lan). The beef was cooked nicely and the gai lan was crunchy, but the dish was lacking in that punch of flavor that you normally get from a peppery beef dish.

I wasn't in love with Full Kee but I think the classic line "it's not you, it's me" is a good fit here. It's not Full Kee's fault that we ordered two similarly-flavored dishes and didn't venture far into the unique menu items that make it a special restaurant. I'd like to try the Chinatown location and, while I'm not touching the marinated pig intestines, I will be a bit more adventurous.

Second Thoughts from B

As I think I've said before, my Chinese heritage and California upbringing makes me a bit of a Chinese food snob... but not in the traditional sense. My family never sought out the Ritzy, high-class Chinese restaurants. Being true to our humble beginnings, you'd typically find us in the hole-in-the-wall joint where English is the foreign language and an "A" in the LA County environmental health grading system is actually a worrisome sign.

With that in mind, I was at home at Full Kee. As far as DC goes, it is pretty close to the "real" Chinese food I'm used to. However, the true merit of a Chinese restaurant can hardly be measured by two dishes. Next time we'll have to bring a group or be prepared to fill our fridge with take home boxes to fully appreciate a family style meal. I guess that's my way of saying we'll be back.
Full Kee on Urbanspoon

No comments: