By BOB SAN
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (Dec. 11, 2011) — Want the best fried chicken in the Twin Cities? Go to Kim’s Chow Mein on Marshall and Cleveland in St. Paul.
People might think I am crazy but this is absolutely true. I love fried chicken and I like KFC, but there’s something about Kim’s fried birds that makes it special.
First of all, the price is right. For under $7, you can order 1/2 fried chicken with fried rice or french fries. The pieces you get are huge and the fried rice also comes in big portion. It’s enough even for a big eater like me.
Secondly, the fried chicken has a thin coating that is delicious and Kim’s somehow manages to keep it crispy on the outside and very juicy on the inside. And unlike some restaurants that prefry their food, Kim’s put the chicken into the frying pan after you order so it comes fresh and hot.
I am not the only person who have said that Kim’s has the best fried chicken. A good friend of mine who knows about restaurants said so and so did several people I’ve met over the years.
This being said, I am not saying Kim’s is the best Chinese restaurant in town. It is not. It is one of the few old Chinese American restaurants (House of Wong comes to mind) that still have chow mein and egg fu yung as their main menu items. Americans have become more sophisticated with Chinese food, so not many Chinese restaurants still feature chow mein and egg fu yung as their main items. Kim’s does, because it has been around for at least 40 years.
I know because I used to go there in the early 1970s when my brother went to the University of St. Thomas, which is just two blocks away from Kim’s. I used to stop by when visiting my sister as well who went to St. Catherine’s University.
In those days, there wasn’t the option to go to the Village Wok or Hong Kong Noodle, or similar restaurant with expansive traditional menues. There were big, famous American Chinese restaurants that were expensive, adn then there was Kim’s and oher places to eat where it was close and cheap.
The owners of Kim’s at that time were from Hong Kong so they would cook us something off the menus — some more authentic Hong Kong foods. But I fell in love with their fried chicken. So, Kim’s always brings back special memories for me. May be that’s why I like it.
About 10 years ago, my sister came to visit and asked me to take her to Kim’s. It was sort of like going down memory lane for her — and she loved it. The old owners are long gone but they must have passed on the secret fried chicken recipe to the new management. We ordered the fried chicken and fried rice and it still tasted just like in the 1970s.
It sure brings back good memories. Two weeks ago, my friend Rich and I were coming back from Minneapolis via Lake Street and drove into St. Paul on Marshall Avenue. We were hungry and so stopped by Kim’s. We both had their fried chicken and it was great.
Other than the fried chicken, I really can’t say much about the rest of the menu items at Kim’s because I seldom try them. So this is kind of a bad restaurant review.
What I can say is, you don’t need to go out of your way to eat at Kim’s, but when in the beautiful Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul, perhaps to take in an event at St. Thomas, St Kate’s or the other schools in the area, be sure to try the fried chicken at Kim’s, located at 2046 Marshall Avenue.
You won’t regret it, and maybe it will become one of the little spots in the back of your mind to visit time to time.