Lee Kam Kee Vietnamese Restaurant
Lee Kam Kee
2505 W. Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91803(626) 282-7720
i love hainan chicken...do all of you know what hainan chicken is? how do i explain it... anthony bourdain was in singapore and ate this in the food court. its boiled chicken and they make a terrific chicken broth that they use to cook the rice in, and its served with a chili dipping sauce. this is a very simplified explanation of it. now some places serve this dish hot others cold, its all personal perference how you like it. i LOVE the hainan chicken at Savoy in alhambra off valley near garfield. i posted my love of this chicken on facebook and auntie winna (long time family friend) recommended that i try the hai-nam chicken (no, its not a typo, this is how they had it in the menu, this is the vietnamese version) here...especially because they serve it with a ginger scallion mix.
lucky for me, my friend alison decided to fly down for a day and come spend it with me...and what better way to enjoy the day then to go EATING! our favorite thing to do! so, i picked her up from ontario airport, and the first thing we discussed...what do we want to eat?! i was already starving and could not wait to eat. we had talked about trying this place for quite some time so this was the perfect opportunity. down the 10 fwy (west) to the 605 south to the 60 west to the 710 north, till it ends and plops you onto valley blvd. make a right when you exit, pass jack in a crack on your left...(fremont st) it'll be on your left side. (in case anyone needs directions from ontario airport).
the restaurant has a B rating, but looks nice and clean inside and the staff is really friendly. the extensive menu had so many delicious looking choices and with hungry bellies and VERY big eyes, our mouths began to water as we read potential dishes that would soon be entering the giant orifice near the bottom of our face.
choice number one, com ga hai nam...
chicken rice hai-nam style. i wanted to show you that they give you a ton of rice and not a whole lot of chicken. they serve their chicken cold here...with a most excellent side of ginger and scallions. with each bite of chicken, i'd add some ginger/scallions and of course a nice little dollop of red chili to give it that extra burst of flavor and heat in my mouth. the rice which should have been cooked in the chicken broth, wasn't as flavorful as savoy's. the chicken itself was ok, not dry, still fairly moist, but the pieces weren't that meaty. the portion size is half the amount that you would typically get at savoy. what i missed was the creamy chili sauce, but if i could have this ginger/scallion mix with the creamy chili sauce, it would've been sooooo perfect. at savoy, they serve the ginger by itself along side the chili sauce. thank you auntie winna for sharing the joy of the ginger mix! i think that if i had to choose based on over all taste and value, i'd have to go back to savoy.
choice number two, bo luc lac & banh mi bo...
fried beef cubes french style & garlic bread.
i have had a similar dish where its called shaking beef and the onions are actually cooked with the beef, but i didn't see it here. i don't know if its the same thing, but we went ahead and picked this dish because it sounded good. i was really excited to eat this dish, but after a couple of bites and really allowing my taste buds to taste the meat, it had that funky "old meat" flavor, so i had to stop. i don't know if its not as popular because this is one of the more pricier items on the menu, thus the meat wasn't very fresh. the garlic bread was ok...a little on the dry side. but i was disappointed that the beef didn't taste good.
choice number three, bun cari ga...
curry chicken with vermicelli noodles
served with a side of chilies, limes and bean sprouts & basil (not pictured). alison normally gets this with thicker noodles and i can see why. the vermicelli noodles were extremely soft and just didn't have any bite to it. i'd rather have rice with this dish. the curry was mild in flavor and could've been much stronger. i had to add some salt to help enhance that curriness that it so needed. (yes...curriness is not a real word, don't bother looking it up. as you should already know, i make up my own words) we both agreed, we didn't really care to eat it with the fresh bean sprouts, but loved the addition of the chilies. oh the chicken! haha i almost forgot to talk about the main item in the dish, it was ok...could be more tender, but it wasn't bad.
and lastly, choice number four, canh ga chien bo...
that's right! fried chicken wings baby! and they are fried in butter and garlic! who doesn't love butter and garlic either by itself or in combination?! wow...this smelled so good when it came out! it was piping out and burning our fingers as we hastely starting gobbling down those little crispy critters. see those little brown bits on the plate...that's the garlic. now...for me, i wish that it tasted like it smelled, a little more garlicky. but it was so crispy, hot, tender AND moist...it was hard to stop eating this little babies. i still enjoyed them immensely and alison really liked these wings, just as they were. but she did agree about having a big more garlic taste, so as we ate the last few wings, we would gather up the little bits of garlic on the plate and put it on top of the chicken just to get that extra pop.
my overall impression, some of the dishes were ok, some elements like the ginger/scallion side totally stood out, but the chicken wings were the star of the meal, i'd definitely eat them again. with so many choices on their menu, i would go back to try the ones that caught my eye. this would be a fun place to have a large group eat at so we can try a lot more items.
again, many thanks to auntie winna for sharing lee kam kee with me!
oh! i almost forgot! alison's lime soda!
yup, she's smelling it!! this "soda" was so refreshing! the lime flavor was just perfect...what's perfect? well, there was enough flavor that you knew it was lime, but it wasn't tart or bitter. why do i mention bitter? sometimes when they get the pith (white part of the peel) it makes it a kind of bitter. i would drink this on a hot summer day, so light and effervescent!
thanks al for joining me, but our eating is not quite done yet...