Aug 062011
 

Pretty much any town in the United States has a serviceable Chinese restaurant or two. Hell, even bad Chinese places can cook up frozen egg rolls and pre-made lo mein with inoffensive results. But buffets turn me off, particularly when it comes to Chinese food which is best eaten quickly after cooking. In Kansas City Bo Ling’s has a stranglehold on the sit-down casual Chinese market, but there are other decent places out there, some of them offering a much quicker and cheaper lunch experience, without a lunch buffet.

Out in Lenexa, Rice House does a steady business of takeout from a tiny building on W. 87th street near Lackman road. They do have four tables and five small booths for in-house diners, and surprisingly have table service for those patrons.

Update: It appears that Rice House has caved in to the allure of the lunch buffet. I haven’t had it.

Interior

The lunch specials are very cheap, a number of them go for $4.95, and come with soup and spring roll or crab rangoon. The hot and sour soup at Rice House is among the best I’ve had, with chunks of pork, ribbons of egg and a very rich broth. It was not overly sour which frankly I prefer. The chicken with garlic sauce I ordered came out very quickly and despite the presence of loathsome baby corn, was quite satisfying. Part of the appeal of Chinese food is that it typically hits your mouth within one minute of leaving the hot wok.

Hot & sour soup

Chicken with garlic sauce

Rice House on Urbanspoon

Just east of Rice House lies Babo Teriyaki, an Asian joint that serves Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai inspired dishes in addition to a very typical Chinese menu. But I haven’t had any Chinese food here. Babo sits right next door to Callahan’s and must be a welcome respite from pizza, burgers and chicken wings for those who work nearby.

Exterior

I had to try a Vietnamese dish since this cuisine is hard to find in that part of the metro after Cafe Song’s demise a couple years ago.

Alas the noodle bowl I had there was not quite right, although it looked beautiful.

Bun Thit Nuong

Containing a tougher cut of beef with a minerally undertone and bad texture, the bowl was pretty disappointing. The nước chấm, poured over the top of the dish, was too sour and tasted like the subpar versions I’ve created at home. There was a lot of liquid at the bottom of the bowl too. In general, not a great choice.

The spicy pork teriyaki I ordered on the other hand, was excellent and attractively presented, as was the yakiudon with chicken. My advice? Stick with the Japanese menu items.

Spicy pork loin teriyaki

Babo Teriyaki on Urbanspoon

Fortune Palace, just west of Quivira, is by far the nicest-looking of these three spots, and it has the best food too. A dramatically-lit bar area and recessed chandelier make this restaurant veritably suitable for date-night. Everything I’ve tried here has been prepared well and tasted good. The General Tso’s chicken, a very guilty pleasure for me, is fantastic, lightly breaded, crunchy and doused in an incredibly rich, spicy and sweet sauce. The twice cooked pork may be even better.

General Tso's Chicken

Twice Cooked Roast Pork

Lunch specials include the area’s best egg drop soup or very good hot and sour, and your choice of crab rangoon or egg roll for $6.95.

Egg Drop Soup

And the service is very attentive and friendly. I’m hoping this place stays around a long while. Located steps from Flavors of India and Cafe Augusta, this aging strip mall is a solid lunchtime destination.

Fortune

Fortune Palace on Urbanspoon

Chinese options on 87th street, a bustling Johnson County thoroughfare at lunch hour, are generally very good. I didn’t even mention the illustrious Lucky Wok which is notable for its Chinese menu, not the substandard buffet. There may even be another joint I’m forgetting or have yet to visit. Feel free to comment and let me know what those may be, or if you have other Chinese places without buffets that you like, shout it out.

  4 Responses to “Eating Asian on 87th (No Buffets Allowed)”

  1. Dragon Inn in Prairie Village and Downtown OP. Both use local veggies when in season.

  2. I’m glad you mentioned Fortune Palace. It really is the best around when it comes to “Chinese”. They have the standard menu, but everything is prepared so well. I love it (and need to go in more often).

  3. I like both Babo Teriyaki and Fortune Palace, but I’m not in the area much.

    At Babo Teriyaki, I really enjoyed the Seafood Noodle Soup and have had other noodle dishes there. The broth was rich and the dish meaty. My wife likes the Phad Thai, which is more of a street vender version than the saucy restaurant version you get at the Thai Place. I thought the ingredients were fresh and prepared like an upperscale bistro. I wish they would have a better name as I don’t think it conveys all of their capabilities.

    And actually I love Fortune Palace, I know the couple, that atleast owns part of it, used to work at Pine and Bamboo Garden (another great place, esp the Dim Sum). The have put a lot of work into the fresh, well-prepared food and the dining experience which I think most neighborhood Asian places lack.

  4. ABC Cafe at 87th and about Switzer does authentic Cantonese/Hong Kong stuff.

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