Review No. 95: Oriental Kitchen
1000 Morningside Drive
48.1 percent finished reviewing Conway restaurants
She Said: I found myself with cancelled dinner plans, so He Said suggested we try Oriental Kitchen, which is a Chinese restaurant we’d heard about but had never been to. Since I work at home, I was fully pajama’d by 2:30 p.m., so I knew I wasn’t going on the take-out run.
He Said: I was going on the takeout run. Turned out to be a longer run than I anticipated, mainly because this place is almost impossible to find. The address fools you into thinking you know right where it is, but when you get to that corner of Prince and Morningside Drive, you find a mini-sort of shopping mall and then a Citgo station across from it. You will not see a sign for Oriental Kitchen. That’s because Oriental Kitchen is not in a free-standing building; it’s actually basically in the rear of the Citgo station, with a small sign in the window, not really on the building itself. They must have an awful lot of repeat customers who know exactly where to go or they couldn’t possibly stay in business, because no one would ever be driving by and say, “Hey, why don’t we stop at that Chinese restaurant over there?” Because they don’t have a prayer of seeing that Chinese restaurant over there. So what I’m saying is, if you haven’t tried this place and want to, know before you head over that it’s in the back of the Citgo station. End of story.
She Said: Oriental Kitchen is carry-out only: I thought the ambience of my home where I ate my food was perfect: four dogs, a bottle of wine and the dog-show “pregame” on television.
He Said: The ambience of the place itself is bright and friendly, but pretty small and sparse. It’s actually smaller than our living room where you were watching the dog show. There is a counter and a few pictures of China on the walls. There are also two small booths, so it may actually be possible to eat there, but you probably wouldn’t want to.
She Said: I had BYOB Malbec. It was delightful. Its violet, leather and tobacco notes complemented the Chinese flavors nicely.
He Said: Yeah, we didn’t order drinks there, I had a root beer from my own refrigerator with my order.
She Said: Oriental Kitchen offers my favorite dishes on the Chinese roster, so I was able to check all the boxes: egg-drop soup, crab Rangoon and cashew chicken with fried rice. The “Complete Dinner” option for $2.75 more than the entrée price gets diners a choice of soup and one each of an egg roll, fried wanton, a golden finger and crab Rangoon, which was perfect, because they were small and just enough to enjoy the taste without overeating. And that was appropriate because the cashew chicken was really rich and filling. The sauce was almost like a gravy. There were enough cashews (at least for the first helping) that I didn’t have to add my own, and the veggies were fresh with lots of green. The chicken was tender, though a bit bland. The fried rice was lightly fried and tasty and went well with the chicken. Not only could He Said and I have shared this entrée, but I also could have shared it with three or four other people, as well. It looked like I hadn’t even eaten any when I packed it up and put it in the fridge. It wasn’t just the Complete Dinner, it was the Complete Dinner For Days.
He Said: I picked the General Tso chicken, with fried rice. The fried rice was very good, especially with a little soy sauce, and was a good counterbalance to the fried General Tso chicken with its sweet sauce and chili kick. The chicken was excellent, and there was plenty of it—enough that I could only eat about half of it, and I ended up saving the rest for the next day.
Which was a very good thing, since when I actually looked up a general description of the nutritional information on General Tso chicken, I find that a single order f it can contain up to 88 fat grams. If you read this column regularly, you know that is about 150 percent of the amount of fat I am supposed to have in an entire day. This would explain the twinges in the pancreas I’ve been having the last couple of days. So, it’s chicken, but don’t think you’re getting a low-calorie or low-fat protein.
She Said: That’s what happens when you selected a fried-meat entrée, Ruud!
She Said: The woman who answered the phone was very efficient and helped me when I was confused about what came with the famous Complete Dinner.
I have a small complaint about the driver who went to pick it up (He Said), who didn’t use his GPS, so called me frustrated because he couldn’t find the restaurant. I talked him through it, though, and he realized it was in the Citgo station, just as the address had indicated.
He Said: Yes, Jones, your dissatisfaction was reflected in my tip. Cheapskate. As for the actual Oriental Kitchen employee, her service at the counter was friendly and courteous, and prompt. Nothing to complain about there.
What We Got and What We Paid: General Tso chicken with fried rice, cashew chicken “complete dinner” with egg-drop soup, crab Rangoon and fried rice, for $21.53.
Elapsed Time from Our Arrival to Food Arrival: It was ready when He Said got there, 30 minutes after I called, and the woman who answered the phone had told us 25 minutes, so if he hadn’t been late, it would have been in our bellies sooner.
She Said: I will order from Oriental Kitchen again, maybe instead of grocery shopping for the week. The Complete Dinner gives you a little of everything at a great price.
He Said: This was good Chinese food—at least the General Tso and the fried rice were good. I’d like to try a few other dishes next time we order from here, maybe with a tad less fat!
So… He Said and She Said: Go here (if you can find it) for excellent Chinese takeout…and plenty of it.