Restaurant Review Roulette: Gourmet Kingdom

First, I owe you an explanation of what happened with last week’s Roulette.  Quite simply, the News & Observer is short of editors, and they made a mistake by saying Greg Cox would be reviewing Angelina’s Kitchen.  Yes, Cox wrote a small piece about the restaurant, but it wasn’t the subject of his review.  Cox was very kind and actually called to explain the mix-up to me.  He didn’t place blame on the editors — I did — as this type of mistake has become fairly common.  The quality of the writing in the food sections is as good or better than ever, but the editing quality has dropped dramatically.

Now, onto this week’s competition, when Greg Cox reviews the new darling of the authentic Chinese afficionados, Gourmet Kingdom in Carrboro.  Originally, this was another indistinguishable Chinese buffet place, but over the last several months, apparently due to new ownership, a major transformation has occurred.  Gourmet Kingdom now focuses on authentic Sichuan, and it is apparently the darling of the foodie world, even hosting a Chowhound get-together.

Knowing that Greg Cox loves authentic ethnic joints, I suspect he’ll really like this one.  Although the atmosphere of Gourmet Kingdom may not be all that great, the quality of the food may push this place into 4-star realm.  That’s my bet, anyhow.

5 stars — 50 to 1

4.5  stars — 20 to 1

4 stars — 3 to 2

3.5 stars — 2 to 1

3 stars — 4 to 1

2.5 stars — 12 to 1

2 stars — 25 to 1

1 to 1.5 stars — 100 to 1

Have you been to Gourmet Kingdom?  If so, what are your thoughts?  What’s your bet on Greg Cox’s rating?

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5 Responses to Restaurant Review Roulette: Gourmet Kingdom

  1. burgeoningfoodie says:

    As evident by Chowhound, I’ve been to this place at least 3 times. There is some inconsistency with some dishes, but overall I really enjoyed because of two things (given my limited authentic Chinese experience)..

    1. Bang for the buck (and I’m not talking about spice)
    2. The fact that it IS different from most of the Chinese places in the Triangle AND the fact that it is at least of last time was good..

    I think it will depend on what Mr. Cox orders. Some dishes like their Kung Pao Lotus Root are always good. I can only say that others that have gone to the much loved Super Wok in Cary also really liked the food at Gourmet Kingdom and a lady who had spent some years in that area of China mentioned it was the closest thing she has had in a while to that cuisine.

    The interior is nonplus, but look at restaurants in poorer countries that serve excellent food in open stalls in markets. Given that the food on whole makes up for the interior, but also that it doesn’t have a liquor license…

    I see Mr. Cox giving it 3.5 leaning towards 4 stars just because in a world of sameness it stands out. Hopefully the review will pull more people into it as I’d hate to see it go away.

  2. AMC says:

    Just wanted to comment on the previous post. Greg does typically take into account atmosphere. I have never been there and won’t offer a guess but if it does end up with 3.5 or 4 stars and the interior is suspect and no liquor license then you can be assured the food it truly outstanding. If it only ends up with 2 to 3 you can still be assured the food is very good. At least in Greg’s opinion. I personally have no interest in the atmosphere or even really the service, as long as I get good food on a semi clean plate I am usually pretty happy, but it does matter when you get a review. Here is wishing them luck I always like to see good food get some publicity.

  3. fuzzy says:

    3 stars, being generous. The buffet is dreadful, the atmosphere is hardly there, no wine, beer, or liquor. Parking is difficult to impossible unless you are willing to walk several blocks.

    That being said, a number of items on the all Chinese or translated Chinese menu are quite good. They are served in huge servings more suitable to a family style meal for 3-4 each rather than as a single entree, and that menu is lacking in selection for things that aren’t entrees.

  4. Tom from Raleigh says:

    Three stars, I say. Fuzzy’s right. The buffet, decor and lack of adult beverage options should reduce the overall rating.

    Funny thing: I was dining alone in SuperWok not long after Greg’s review came out. Two guys were at the table next to me. One said to another, “You know this place is very highly rated by the N&O.”. The other says, “That’s great. What are you getting?” The first responded, “Egg roll and shrimp fried rice, just like any other Chinese place.”
    Perhaps this interchange was only humorous to me…

  5. burgeoningfoodie says:

    No it is pretty humorous. From what I was told by others, the buffet doesn’t exist anymore, but that may not be true considering the “troughs” are still there. I’ve not been to many Chinese places where they have an atmosphere other than the same kitschy stuff you see. The place as far as I can tell is clean and that is more important to me than whether they are playing nice music and have a good decor.

    I do like that they serve it family style as this seems to be how a lot of Chinese places serve their food and makes for a community our of potential strangers.

    I don’t drink so to me liquor/beer is not a problem. I know some people want (at least) a beer with their drink, but I don’t think it should be a requirement.

    As far as the menu, I’ve not had anything what I would call bad. Somethings are a bit spicier than others, but I just don’t eat much of that dish. As far as small sections for appetizers, soups or desserts. Personally not worried about that. The selection they have do have is pretty nice and they have a few dumplings in the back though they aren’t too special.

    I don’t think a 3 is being overly generous.

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