Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rice King

The Location: 278 W Center St, Provo. Not far out of the way, though not conveniently close. Take a nice bike ride down there this summer!

The Atmosphere: It's a long, narrow restaurant inside the frame of the old buildings on Center Street. At times seems kind of cramped. (Don't plan on having intense, serious personal conversations here.) 

Decorations on the wall are traditional Chinese: sometimes with a slight tacky feel, but it definitely gives the air of a standard Chinese home or restaurant.

The Staff: Haha, I love this man. The family who owns and runs the place are great. The owner is a Chinese man who grew up in Vietnam and has run the restaurant for twelve years now (that seems like a long time, and then I realize that it started in 2000. Then I question the date, and thereafter my age and sanity. Y2K was really half my life ago?). He's a US citizen, and his English is excellent. He doesn't speak Chinese, though his chef does. He's funny, and I had a nice little chat with him as I paid and left.

The Food: I've come here once before with a friend, but she primarily was ordering food; I just sampled it. For all intents and purposes, this was my first time, and boy was it ever good.

I ordered the egg drop soup to supplement the meal; my friend Michelle ate the hot and sour soup (it spilled a lot; don't judge). Mine had a handful of crunchy, doesn't-soggify-really-quickly-when-placed-in-liquids cracker things that gave the relatively simple soup a bit more texture and flavor. It was a nice addition. Michelle's hot and sour soup had chunks of tofu inside (I have no idea if that's standard or not in hot and sour? Help!), and she enjoyed the taste. Good soups overall.

We both ordered the sweet and sour pork combo meal (D7, on the back page, for your reference. $7.25 for the main dish, a portion of ham-fried rice, and a egg roll. Score!) because hey, pork is delicious, and sweet and sour is a wonderful idea. The egg roll was crispy and flavorful, though I did accidentally ingest a large flake from the roll and it gave me a cool and not-painless -HRKHH- in my throat. But that's only because I lack grace or something. The fried rice was so good! It seemed to be fried with a lot of soy sauce, which really bolstered the flavor, but it did make it less sticky, thus harder to eat with chopsticks (Sorry, Michelle). But regardless of soy sauce, the rice wasn't too salty or bland or anything -- just the right amount of flavor. I tend to like fried rice more with egg as well, but the ham alone provided a nice mix. Great fried rice overall.

But mm, the sweet and sour pork is where this dish shone. My one "complaint" is that the pork pieces were massive, so it was a tad harder to eat one at a time (or maybe I have a small mouth?). The owner, Victor, noticed me trying to "chop" one rather large piece in two by repeatedly stabbing it with chopsticks and brought us a knife. Yes, haha, I looked that silly. Proud of it, too, baby. But anyway, the sauce was fantastic! Quite sweet and with enough sour taste to balance the entire dish. Also, each piece of (battered, by the way) pork was veritably slathered in the sauce. AND there was a little container of sauce for the egg roll. Simply put, they did not skimp on the sweet and sour goodness. And lo, my stomach was happy.

The Verdict: Yes please. I can hardly say no to Chinese food in general, and this place is no exception. The staff is helpful and fun to talk to, and the food is delicious. The chefs are all Asian (as all who cook at legitimate Asian restaurants should be; I'm looking at you, Panda Express) and the food is authentic. And if you want some excellent sweet and sour pork (or chicken), look no further. Rice King has you covered.

Read other reviews here:
Rice King Provo on Urbanspoon

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