The Foodie Report
Ruminations on food, cooking in and eating out in our area.

It's entirely possible to be a vegetarian in Porkopolis. Pop culture reporter Lauren Bishop blogs about products, recipes and restaurants she's tried for others who eat meat-free. E-mail her at lbishop@enquirer.com.

Nicci King is an unabashed foodie and the Lifestyle/Food editor in The Enquirer's features department. She loves to discover new food faves, and she's on a daily quest to answer one burning question: What's for dinner? E-mail her at nking@enquirer.com.

Enquirer Weekend editor Julie Gaw tends to order the same dish every time she eats at a restaurant, but periodically ventures out to discover something new and fabulous. After living in China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand for more than 8 years, she craves tasty Asian food. E-mail her at jgaw@enquirer.com.

Food/dining writer Polly Campbell loves every quirk and secret of Cincinnati's food personality, and is on a constant lookout for something good to eat. Keep an eye out for her restaurant picks, or see how she's progressing toward becoming famous for her apple pie. E-mail her at pcampbell@enquirer.com.

Communities reporter Rachel Richardson is on a mission to prove vegetarians eat more than lettuce. She shares both her graduate work on American food culture and food-related news.. E-mail her at rrichardson@enquirer.com.

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Monday, April 21, 2008


A reader called to tell me that The House of Tam in Finneytown has closed. With Chinese take-outs on every corner, that may not seem like a big deal. But House of Tam was a step above the standard strip-mall Chinese; an old-guard Chinese restaurant with a more formal feel, where you'd sit and spend a few hours in a nice dining room. It used to get star ratingss from Mobil. I talked to K.C. Yang, the owner for the last five years, and he said the price of food recently was a real factor in deciding to close it. A 100-pound bag of rice that always cost $23 is now $39, just for instance. (This may be a sign of things to come.)

I'll miss the old-fashioned Chinese places when they're all gone. I'm talking about the kind of place with a sense of ceremony, a personable, hostly owner, elaborate hanging lanterns and art, (and often Zombies and other nutty drinks borrowed from the Trader Vic's school of bartending.)
Szchewan Wok was of that type, and it's closed, too. There's still China Gourmet, of course, and Oriental Wok, as the very best of the type. Grand Oriental on Fields-Ertel is a huge, grand version of it. Does anyone else have their favorite that fits the description?


at 3:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chinese Imperial Inn in Sharonville is our favorite old style chinese restaurant.

at 4:12 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

It should be pointed out that Fred "Rerun" Barry's "House of Tam Hat Shop" is still open.

at 4:45 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chinese Lantern in Hamilton.

at 7:31 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raymonds Cathay Kithchen in Florene is perhaps the best Cantonese restaurant in the area. China Gourment used to be the best, but after their relaunch as a froo froo restaurant, the food went to hell. And the prices are out of sight. No thanks.

at 7:32 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make that 'Raymond's Cathay Kithchen in Florence'. Posting via Blackberry sucks.

at 9:53 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this isn't about China Gourmet, but ditto to the previous poster. I was so disappointed when I went there for a special dinner last year - not the same food or atmosphere at all.

at 9:56 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite is Wah Mee downtown on Elm St - the owner always has a greeting for me and whoever I drag in - coworkers, dates, children, etc. But I never order off the menu - always Singapore noodles.

at 2:00 AM Anonymous Mary D. said...

GAWD, don't get me started about China gourmet!

I used to love China Gourmet. My Husband and I went there every Friday night for years (well, nearly anyway!). I went there for years with my Parents and Grandparents before that.

After the remodel, everything changed. The food wasn't the same. The Fresh Fish wasn't fresh anymore. You couldn't order old favourite, off the menu items anymore. The service got really bad. Even the wine selection went bad. Nobody there cared anymore. They seemed more interested in trying to cultivate some kind of artificial 'bar scene' than taking care of their diner crowd. And the place got more expensive.

Well, we stopped going, as did my parents, who had been dining there since Bing was running the place 25 years ago. My Parent's friends stopped going too. I wish Tenley well, but I don't know how he is going to make it when he has chased his core customers away. What he is offering now can be found at 20 other restaurants in town these days, and for less money at that.

at 2:26 AM Anonymous Chad Edward said...

Nothing would make me happier than if an authentic dim sum, noodle, or congee house would open in the area.

at 8:05 AM Blogger Polly Campbell said...

Wow, I'm really sorry to hear the comments about China Gourmet. I reviewed it shortly after the remodel and thought it was still doing a great job. But I haven't been in some time.

To Chad: Have you tried the dim sum available locally and found it lacking? I've had congee a couple of occasions--as a dim sum selection--and really liked it, though somehow I just can't imagine ever thinking "sure could go for some congee right now."

Wah Mee: they are very nice, and it is old school. Maybe I should try the Singapore noodles, since it's only the food that keeps me from lunching there. . . .

at 10:14 AM Anonymous vudutu said...

So sad, I have heard bad things about CG, have not been for a while, Raymond's does rock, talked with some friends about going down there a few weeks ago. Had dim sum at Pacific Moon last fall, I thought it sucked, my SO thought it was OK. Anon 7:31 is that CH hiding behind the curtain?

at 10:44 AM Anonymous heather w said...

It's not an "old style" chinese place - but if you're looking for noodles - there's a great place in the little strip mall near rookwood - it's next to penn station and roly poly - can't think of the name of it - but great noodle dishes...

and if you're wanting the familiar style of an oriental wok but on a smaller scale - ruthai's in mt lookout is a blast - it's thai - but there's all this kitchy art and the sushi bar - ruthai & tim rock!!!!

at 12:10 PM Blogger Polly Campbell said...

Is that Ya Kat Mein? I've liked their noodles.

at 12:35 PM Anonymous Barry said...

I would really appreciate if anyone could pass along some places that do Dim Sum locally!

at 2:33 PM Blogger Duke Danbury said...

Uncle Yip's in Evendele does Dim Sum (cart service) every Saturday and Sunday, 11-3 I think (I'd call first). You can also order it anytime off a menu without the carts.

My wife and I have been and it's always packed on the weekends. Very tasty too.


at 3:18 PM Blogger Julie Gaw said...

Chad - Try Yat Ka Mein near Rookwood (heather and polly were right about the name). It's been open about 2 years and is as close to a Hong Kong noodle shop as I've ever seen here. Tried a few dishes there a couple months back - noodles among them, and was fairly impressed. Think it'd a a great spot to hit after drinks at The Pub. (Tried to do get there a couple weeks ago but we ended up at Green Papaya for tasty pad thai instead).

As for dim sum:
1. Grand Oriental in Fields Ertel is tops in my book. Push carts and everything.
2. Pacific Moon on the Levee. Not what it was when it was in Montgomery, but hey, you take what you can get.
3. Uncle Yip's. Though last time I went for dim sum (3+ years), I was unimpressed and haven't been back since.
4. CAM grocery in Evendale. You can buy great frozen dumplings and steam them yourself. The best ones are the shrimp (hargau), but I haven't seen those there in a couple of months.

My other top Chinese spots:
1. Chung Ching, College Hill. They're Taiwanese, and it's a total mom and pop shop, just the two of them. Long waits sometimes but the best hot and sour soup in town. And Joyce can make pretty much whatever you want that's not on the menu.
2. Sichuan Bistro, Mason. I am guessing they'll have to expand at some point. It's always jammed when we go there, and we love almost every new dish we order there, which is not true of many Chinese spots.

at 7:13 AM Blogger elizabeth said...

Wok Inn in St. Bernard. Not entirely sure it fits your description of the type of place you're looking for, but I love it-- excellent food (not too salty) a good buffet, incredibly good service, and their rangoons don't have crab in them, so I can partake :)

at 9:02 AM Blogger Polly Campbell said...

The dim sum at Pacific Moon was great last time I reviewed it--sticky rice in lotus leaves, scallop dumplings, curry chicken turnovers, excellent custard tarts, etc. Uncle Yip's was once truly excellent--I haven't been there since they moved back to Evendale. Grand Oriental is a great experience--lots of things along the line of chicken feet. I have to look into this, but I think King Wok is doing dim sum

at 10:37 PM Blogger liz said...

king wok is doing dim sum and has been for over a year at least. it's yummy. no carts though, you just order off the menu.

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