The Boston Phoenix
December 2 - 9, 1999

[Food Reviews]

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King Fung Garden

An embarrassment of riches in Chinatown

by Rob McKeown

Good food has nothing to do with good décor. Take that, trendy designers. The exterior of King Fung Garden resembles a rundown trailer, and its interior is furnished with three red pleather booths and four knobbly-kneed tables. None of this prevents owners Doris and Irwin Mei from turning out some of the best food in Chinatown.

Those with excellent organizational skills order the legendary Peking duck (it comes in three courses, $27) 24 hours in advance. Others can happily assemble a do-it-yourself pu-pu platter of the Meis' edibles. Like any Kneeland Street eatery, King Fung offers an array of choices that is at once daunting and comforting: stir-fries, rice plates, rice cakes, chow mein, and so forth. Don't be scared by the cold plates (beef tendons, jellyfish), the hot pots, or the Mongolian fire pots: they're among the house specialties.

Hot-and-sour soup ($1.75 small, $4.75 large) is magnificent: crunchy vegetables, lush strips of tofu, chewy strings of pork. The spicy warmth lingers. Peking ravioli ($3 for six, $4.75 for 10) are half pan-fried and half steamed, a lesson in two Chinese cooking techniques at once. And the small steamed pork buns ($3 for six, $4.75 for 10) are aromatic and agreeably doughy.

Among the bigger dishes, beef chow foon ($4.50) is a robustly seasoned take on a classic. Rice cakes ($4.25 to $5.50) are a house signature not unlike gnocchi (though they come stir-fried with the likes of pork and pickled cabbage), and hon sue beef ($6.95) is a sweet-spicy toss of beef and caramelized onions.

King Fung Garden, located at 74 Kneeland Street, in Boston, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call (617) 357-5262. Cash only.

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