Kingsfood Chinese Restaurant Review
Sunnybank is without a doubt the place to go in Brisbane if you’re looking for traditional Asian food. There are more restaurants, cafes and grocers covering all the bases than anywhere else in the greater Brisbane region. I’m always happy when one of my friends suggests a meal in Sunnybank as I know it will be an opportunity to try something new and different.
Traditional Asian cooking is still something you have to go looking for in Australia and it’s quite different to what you would get at your local Chinese take-away. Gone is the Mongolian lamb and Shanghai beef, no more prawn crackers and fortune cookies. Instead you can expect to see things like chicken feet, jellyfish and pork ears on the menu which seem very odd when you’re an Aussie. Why would someone want to chomp on a chicken’s bony foot when you can eat the breast meat? Trying to explain how this can be considered a delicacy is even more of a challenge if you’ve been brought up on steak.
The problem with traditional Asian cooking and the barrier that it creates for many Australians, myself included, is that it seems to be all the weird bits of an animal instead of the choicest cuts. Subsequently, most of the Asian take-away restaurants in this country are Australian adaptations of traditional dishes and use parts of the animal that we’re used to and like. It’s easier to adapt to our tastes if you’re trying to run a restaurant than it is to be a purest.
The trick to understanding ‘weird’ Asian cooking requires that you completely change the model by which you appreciate and enjoy food. Western cooking by and large uses ingredients that have a particular taste that is enhanced by the cooking process. Other ingredients are combined in the meal to give a sensation of flavour. Producing an enjoyable and memorable flavour is the end goal of the cooking process, everything else is second.
Much traditional Asian cooking is approached from an entirely different perspective where texture rather than flavour is the priority. The selection of ingredients and the cooking process is designed to give the diner a texture sensation, rather than a taste sensation. Try getting your head around that! This is the reason that chicken feet, pork ears and other weird things figure so prominently in traditional cooking. They are delicacies for their texture, not for their taste.
This brings me to Kings Food Taiwanese restaurant, situated in Sunnybank and considered by my Taiwanese friends to be one of the best places in Brisbane for traditional Taiwanese food.
Kings Food is in the Market Square complex which houses a stack of restaurants and cafes from all parts of The East. Kings Food is a casual dine-in and take-away restaurant that has both indoor and alfresco dining. The décor is simple, just chairs and tables with no ‘traditional’ artwork, wall hangings or restaurant junk. If you drop in on a Friday evening be prepared for loud, animated conversation in a variety of languages.
The menu is extensive and covers beef, pork, chicken and seafood cooked in a variety of Taiwanese styles and a number of noodle and noodle soup dishes as well as a couple of Aussie stand-bys like honey chicken and sweet and sour pork ribs if everything else sounds a bit scary. Everything on the menu is under $20 so you can certainly afford to try something new.
We ordered Pork Chop with Rice ($8) and Kingsfood Stir-Fried Ho-Fan ($10). My Taiwanese companion also convinced me to try several cold side dishes including Stewed Beef Honeycomb ($4), Stewed Dried To-Fu ($4) and Stewed Pork Ear ($4).
Kings Food’s drinks list is also pretty good with a wide selection of flavoured Jasmine and Milk based teas as well as frappes and several hot drinks. We settled on Passion fruit Jasmine tea ($3) and a Passion fruit frappe ($3.50), both were great. You’re also welcome to bring your own wine or beer if you want to make a night of it.
Our order arrived in lightning speed and we were both presented with a mountain of food. My Kingsfood consisted of BBQ pork, eggs, carrots, sprouts and onion stir fried with ho-fan noodles (large short-flat rice noodles) and was excellent, however considering the size of the dish it didn’t really have enough variation to hold my interest. It would have been good as something to share but I found it a bit boring on its own. My companion’s pork chop with rice was exactly the opposite and she was greeted with a crumbed crispy pork chop, ham egg, gee-lan, tofu and pork mince rice. We were not expecting such variation based on the description in the menu and I ended up sampling my way through her meal in addition to my own. The pork chop was delicious as was pork mince rice. The ham egg, which is similar to scrambled eggs with chunks of ham, was very good but somehow out of place on the dish, while the gee-lan was crunchy and something that I wish coles and woolies would stock.
Our cold side dish was the interesting part of the meal as I had not previously tried either pork ears or beef honeycomb. Both had been stewed in soy sauce and as such there was very little variation in taste but the point of the dish as I’ve previously described was to highlight the texture of the ingredients. The pork ears were thinly sliced and had a white stripe down the middle which is the cartilage surrounded by the skin. The cartilage is slightly crunchy which is highlighted by the skin which is soft and chewy. Beef honeycomb, while tasting the same has a very different texture and is almost velvety on the tongue. You could clearly see the different layers of the meat.
So where does that leave us? Kings Food Taiwanese restaurant serves authentic Taiwanese and has many things on the menu that you might not have seen before. If you’re the adventurous type I’d strongly encourage you to check it out and be sure to keep the idea of texture over taste in mind while dining. You’ll find yourself appreciating the food from a whole new perspective.
Taiwanese Take-away and Dine-in Restaurant
Market Square Shopping Centre
Cnr McCullough & Mains Rd
07 3344 4620
Unlicensed / BYO
Visited on Sunday, 28 December 2008