Ken's Kitchen (San Francisco CA)
||700 Polk Street,|
San Francisco, CA 94109
Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2007 Issue: 13(4) page: 32
This space was once an out building of the California Culinary Academy; that was a year or two ago. It is across the street and down the block from this palace of culinary instruction. That is at 625 Polk Street. Go to Ken's to enjoy Chinese food before visiting the Asian Art Museum half block away at 200 Larkin Street (415/581-3500).
Intended as a neighborhood eatery with an open kitchen, it sports a beautiful menu with pictures of many of its dishes. Sit near a window and students in whites pass by. They get and give smiles to the accommodating staff and the satisfied customers.
Ken's cleverly accommodates folks who dine alone. Called Ho's Combo for One, a main course comes with one appetizer to be chosen from Egg Roll, Pot Sticker, or Chicken Salad, and one soup be it Wonton Soup or Hot and Sour; also the diners choice of Egg Fried Rice, Steamed Rice, or Chow Mein. One can forget that and add three bucks to any menus entree, and design your own combo.
There are fourteen Chef's Specialities, all under ten bucks. The ones we tasted on two trips there were terrific. The Steamed Catfish was ethereal. The Ken's Combo Clay Pot was loaded with chicken, barbecued pork, and shrimp, and in a complex tasty brown sauce.
Kung Pao Meatless Chicken was without any animal food but with lots of vegetables, made Buddhist style. Lamb with Green Onions was loaded with scallions and very tender meat; Mongolian Beef was redolent of tangerine and/or orange peel and a goodly number of chili peppers. Bok Choy w/Black Mushrooms was a steal at $5.95, and the Beef Chow Fun for a dollar less was an even bigger bargain.
This neighborhood place has neat service and neater prices. At lunch it is cheaper still. At dinner it is hard to break twin fins after enjoying a fine, filling, and faithfully prepared Chinese meal. We went before going into the museum, and suggest when in the neighborhood, you also use it as a place to dine with Asian themes.
Before our second visit, we trekked across the street into the California Culinary Academy. Founded in 1977, it is at its present location some thirty years. We took time to visit the library, open long hours when school is in session, and learned they love your 'no-longer-in-use' cookbooks, Chinese and otherwise. Theirs is a new library and it can benefit from such largess. That said, as soon as we got home we shipped a large box of duplicates in care of Beth Seligman, Dean of Library Sciences..
While at this culinary school, we also sought out and chatted with Rhoda Yee who teaches Asian foods courses. Met her years ago, and was delighted to renew the acquaintance. She put us on to a great restaurant in Oakland, and we took her advice; read about Restaurant Peony in this issue.