After our last food adventure on Division street- visiting a Chinese food restaurant we had never been, how could we possibly resist another? This one was it! Kay Lon Garden is located at 2819 N. Division, here in Spokane.
I will tell you a secret... we had gone to this place before, but we had only gotten inside the door and decided to go elsewhere. In someways I am picky about restaurants... where exactly I go and do not go and somehow, for some reason I found this place unappealing the first time we went there. We never tried it though and since tonight we were limited on time and it was rather close and we have never been there to actually eat and because the last Chinese restaurant we went to that was one on Division that we had tried for the first time was so delicious.... we felt adventurous. What more can I say, except we went inside and were greeted and seated.
This restaurant serves both Korean and Chinese food. (Two very agreeable things for us.) We ordered Kim Chi, Bol Go Ki and MApo Tofu. (We are having quite a MaPo tour in this town!)
Kim Chi Chee (or Kimchee or kim chee, I have seen it spelled all these ways) is a traditional Korean dish made from napa cabbage, radish, onions, garlic and peppers. It's a pickled cabbage dish and it's spicy. It's a bit fragrant (in a not so lovable way,) but liker Limburger cheese, people like it and eat it and find it to be a delicious and actually a quite nutritious food. It's a little like Korean "sauerkraut."
The photo to the left shows the kind of jars used in Korea for making this stuff. Interesting.
Geo started eating kim chi when we first moved to Spokane, and we actually went through a period of time where we would have kim chi parties with our friend Lorin. Lorin even began making his own. I didn;t eat it at first, but Geo and Lorin had so much fuin that I had to try it. I was hooked. One thing I really like to eat is cabbage. Once you get past the odor and if you like spice, it is fun to eat. You have to be cautious with kim chee because sometimes it is not so good...
So, because he wanted to order some, Geo asked the waitress about the kim chi, wanting to know if it was fresh. I thought that was kind of funny, since it is a fermented food... anyhow, in response, the waitress asked a man sitting across the restaurant with a few friends who was eating kim chi himself, how it was. He said, "Fantastic! Everything is." It was as good of an endorsement as one can get... so we ordered kim chi and it was very good.
Everything was delicious actually. It was maybe just a tad on the salty side, but delicious and definitely hot and fresh. The Bol go ki was served in such a way that it steamed up and sizzled at our table. (That was cool!) The Mapo tofu was very good too. And while you might think we ordered that because we usually do, I should tell you, the reason we ordered that one is because Geo also asked our waitress what she liked and she said she would probably order tofu.
That was enough for us.. and we went with tofu, Mapo style. Not only was the food delicious, there was a lot of it too, and I forgot to look at the prices. I let Geo pay tonight... and I just didn't worry about it at all.
I guess it goes to show that while first impressions are important, they are not everything. My first impression the time we did not stay was that this place was too busy, too peopled, (kinda like a Walmart or a Denny's "peopled.") This time, I actually too a look around.
There's a lounge and a buffet line (probably only open at lunch hour) and lots of tables. The booth was a little crowded, but comfy. There was no music that I can remember.
It was a little like a Denny's atmosphere, now that I think of it... you know efficient waitresses, clanking dishes from the kitchen area, a tri-fold menu; they even serve hamburgers and fries, like a Denny's... if you order them.
Do you suppose that such "American" things at Chinese restaurants are for those who eat Chinese a lot and want to have something a little different. once in a while? We enjoyed the food at Kay Lon, and so did the table across the room. We Americans skipped the burgers and got to eat the best of both the Chinese and the Korean worlds.
So much for first impressions. Sometimes you can't go by a first impression... something might just look good, but really not be good and all, something might not look great and be the best you wever had. Funny how that is. It just goes to show that more important than first impressions is lasting impressions.
This place made a lasting impression on us tonight. Friendly service, good food and even friendly customers made it a very pleasant experience and we both agreed, we are glad we gave this place another try.