King’s Garden 點心

David’s Review

Well the big secret is out; I’m still in love with Asian cuisine. I’m drawn to it like “white on glutinous rice.” To be more specific, Dim Sum is the elusive meal that remains enigmatic for most locals, and if you’ve not found your way to King’s Garden in Cranston for this experience yet,   grab some non-Asian friends and go because your Asian friends are already there!

Congee is a warm thick rice porridge or soup that is served in many Asian cultures primarily for breakfast, but can be substituted for just about any meal because of the variety of proteins that can be added (i.e. chicken, pork, beef and fish). Anyone who likes oatmeal, cream of wheat or rice cereal would equally appreciate Congee. This Asian comfort food is simple tasting yet terrifically satisfying and an absolute must at King’s Garden because it arrives at the table bubbling in a baked crock, and is the creamiest and most flavorful Congee I’ve ever had.

The Dim Sum menu is extensive and allows diners to check off those small plate dishes (and quantity) he/she desires.  So, in addition to Congee, the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings were fresh, flavorful and perfectly prepared using the delicate dumpling skin that turns translucent when done.  The Steamed Minced Meat Ball reminded me more of Shumai and was also tender, juicy and appetizing.  The Fried Shrimp Balls (3 golf ball sized) were perfectly crispy and non-greasy on the outside with a piping hot and tender shrimp center.  The Steamed Roast Pork Bun (2 per) was worthy of a second order because the freshness of the sweet hot bun coupled with the salty roast pork center was clearly the envy of all the other buns yet to be eaten!  The Chao Chow Dumpling was the stand-out winner during our meal. I really enjoyed trying something new which pairs interesting ingredients and textures together. The dumpling combined chopped taro root, watercress, peanuts, pork and cilantro. I shared a private moment in silence to respectfully honor the glorious “dumpling.”

My only regret is that I have but one stomach to give per meal and was not able to continue my journey down the King’s Garden menu any further. The silver lining to this cloud is that I will thankfully return in order to sample much more in the near future.

The King’s Garden may  be a new Fork in the Rhode for some, but I have a feeling that this place has been lovingly “forked” many times before me…..

King’s Garden 90 Rolfe Street Cranston, RI  401.467.8916


Los Andes

Dave’s Review

Peru may offer some of the most exciting cuisine in Latin America. The gastronomy claims its good fortune thanks to some significantly important factors: supportive climate conducive for flourishing vegetation, geographic location relative to the mountains and ocean, and the country’s willingness to meld contemporary cookery from a diverse immigrant influence of Spanish, African, Asian and European into their ancient Peruvian ones.

The staples of Peruvian and Bolivian (as well as much of South America) cuisine are corn, potatoes and beans. Although similar in staples, regional cuisine does vary from country to country and city to city because the preparation of ingredients, variations in spices, and cooking techniques are influenced by four continents of culture and 200 years of colonization.

La bienvenida a Los Andes Restaurante! Bolivian born, second-generation Brothers Cesin and Omar Curi are carrying on a family restaurant tradition in a delicious manner!

Ceviche! Cerviche! I liked it so intimately I had to write it twice. Los Andes packs a martini glass  with Tilapia, squid, shrimp, mussels in a citrus, cilantro, red onion, garlic marinade.  A fresh, flavorful and perfectly balanced appetizer well worth the trip alone.

On a more adventurous note, Cesin insisted we try a classic Peruvian and Bolivian street food – Anticucho de Corazon (small pieces of grilled skewered meat marinated in garlic, onion, cilantro chopped, vinegar, lemon juice – I believe) served over roasted potatoes with a creamy mint and goat cheese sauce. Classically, the meat is beef heart. In this case it was beef heart. Now before you fade away into obscurity, try to put this into perspective. The heart is a muscular organ that shares the  similar textures and mild taste of all the other muscles. If you think your beloved steak is not a muscle, think again.  Also, lets not be hypocritical regarding the foods we are willingly eat. For example, common hot dogs and/or lunch meat ingredients include meat by-products, fat, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite. Beef heart ingredient; beef heart. By the way, the Anticucho de Corazon was terrific.

An additional standout appetizer was the homemade Saltenas (Bolivian chicken pie) made from a sweet corn pastry dough and stuffed with chicken, peas, olives and potatoes.  Served with spicy pico – jalapenos and garlic relish. This flawlessly prepared baked “pot pie” is exciting enough to make you forget that you just ate beef heart!

As if the appetizer courses were not enough, Cesin brought out a sampling of all four Bolivian soups on the menu: Fricasé – pork and hominy in a spicy broth, Sopa de Mani – peanut soup with beef, Locro – Chicken, rice, plantains and/or potatoes, and Chairo –beef and barley with vegetables.  Although the broth in all samples was one-note in flavor, they were all bountiful and had a good taste.

Of course there were entrees; the pieza de resistencia!  The Pique a lo macho – steak and chorizo with tomato, onion and pepper in a spicy wine sauce served over thick cut french fries. This hearty dish was quite good. Including sautéed tomato was an excellent way to help cut the heaviness of this dish. The sauce was a bit over-salted, especially in light of using chorizo.

Parillada a Los Andes – ‘grilled’ meats – rib eye, beef short rib, chicken thigh, sausage, served with yucca, cheesy rice and ensalada rusa (potato salad) – diced potatoes, vegetables (peas and carrots), and red onion. This dish was brought out with a side table and a portable burner to keep warm. I’d be willing to bet that this could have fed a family of four! The meats were simply grilled and perfectly spiced.

The Pescado a lo macho (fried tilapia, shrimp, squid, mussels and clams in a beer based broth with tomato and a side of rice) was a clear favorite. The fish was fresh and flawlessly prepared. Regardless of where you dine, the freshness of the fish and the attention paid to properly cooking it should never be compromised.

Los Andes is a winner because the quality of the fish was superb, the Curi’s hospitality was sincere, and the prices were enviable.

Chris’s Review

Quite often, the places you wouldn’t hang after dark have some of the most authentic and unique food.  When Rhode Crew founding member David e-mailed me of our next review spot, I thought this would be an opportunity to head to a part of Providence that I would not normally frequent and savor some of the local grub.

Bolivian and Peruvian restaurant, Los Andes on Chalkstone Ave. would provide me with a meal fit for a Bolivian King.   We didn’t pretend to know anything about the cuisine choosing to utilize the friendly and knowledgeable staff to educate us on the menu and the different offerings.

As an avid TV viewer of all things food, one of my favorite TV takes is Food Networks’ “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” It is a show that highlights certain celebrity chefs’ favorite bites across this great land.  I recently experienced one of those moments at Los Andes.  Repeat after me “salteñas”!! I know it sounds like a Spanish term for a soup cracker, but it is something special and Los Andes restaurant is the purveyor of these gems.  A salteña is a Bolivian version of a chicken pot pie, but with a twist.  The dough is a cross between a corn muffin and a pie crust resulting in a sweetness that is a wonderful contrast to the spicy chicken filling. They were the first thing we tried and for $2 it took all my power not to order 6 of them for my meal and nothing else.  They only thing that kept me from following through was my desire to try other ethnic dishes and the fact that we ordered a tremendous amount of food.

The next offering was a sampling of all of the soups that Los Andes offers. I would order each one of them, but for the sake of time and space I would recommend the Fricase.  This soup contains slow cooked pork butt in a spicy broth with hominy.  It was delicious.  I was not in a seafood mood initially, but the Ceviche’ Martini quickly changed my thought process.  An exotic combination of seafood, citrus and cilantro, this refreshing appetizer and traditional South American staple was well represented here.  Following my sudden change of heart and newfound seafood craving, the entrée that I enjoyed the most was a dish called “Pescado a lo macho”.  This was a potpourri of seafood including fried tilapia, squid, mussels, and clam in a spiced beer and tomato broth was outstanding.  All I can say is don’t be intimidated by the location.  Broaden your horizons and palate by venturing out to Los Andes.

903 Chalkstone Ave Providence RI 02908 (401) 649-4911

Silver Crystal

Dave’s Review–

As long as the culinary community is giving international praise for the cuisine made available to us here at home, let’s not forget a “heartfelt” thank you to the Canton region of China for the introduction of Dim Sum into our neighborhood.

Dim Sum is very closely interwoven with the Chinese tradition of “yum cha” or drinking tea. Historically, tea houses became an integral cultural component necessary in accommodating exhausted travelers journeying along the famous Silk Road. As tea’s medicinal ability to aid in digestion became more widely accepted, tea house’s began offering a variety of small plate snacks, and the tradition of dim sum was born.

In the West, dim sum came about as a natural result of 19th century Chinese immigrants – most of whom were from the Canton region – settling on the East and West coasts. Some believe that dim sum inspired the whole idea of “brunch” – combining breakfast and lunch into one large midmorning meal.

Traditional Dim Sum restaurants offer patrons a series of rolling steam carts designed to bring an extensive array of authentic dishes to them. As carts rolled by, diners could see and smell their options as well as ask questions before deciding on any small plate. Today, many restaurants have dispensed with the cart system. Instead, menus and pencils are provided so diners can mark off their selections and quantities. The food is still served at the table in steamer baskets to keep it warm.

In keeping with the contemporary style of Dim Sum service, we welcome Silver Crystal in West Warwick to the party! That’s right, you heard correctly, Dim Sum in West Warwick. The days of chicken fingers in a neon red sweet and sour sauce with canned pineapple and maraschino cherries may be a fleeting memory.

With twelve people at our table and a plethora of dishes ranging from steamed shrimp dumplings to fried chicken dumplings to steamed barbecue pork buns to congee (rice porridge), we sampled for hours. The dishes were all served freshly prepared, steaming hot and incredibly flavorful. The best thing about ordering dim sum is that each plate averages in cost from $2.85 to $4.25. This will allow you the freedom to try many things without the worry of getting stuck with an  entrée that you don’t like.

Three cheers for Silver Crystal and Dim Sum in Rhode Island. You saved me a trip to Boston!

Scott’s Review–

One of the ongoing hot discussions we have over here at Fork in the Rhode is what to review and what not to review. Our big thing is to seek out the less recognized, out-of the way, off-the-grid places that make Rhode Island unique and special when it comes to culinary adventures.

When David called to tip me off of a dim sum place in our backyard, I got very excited. When he told me the Providence Journal recently reviewed it, I sunk back in my chair. But then I thought about dim sum again and having to travel to Boston or New York to get authentic dishes. I then strategically planned a drive-by… code name: Operation Try Sum dim sum on the Run. I ordered just 2 dishes off the dim sum menu: Shrimp Dumplings and Pea Pod Leaf dumplings. For the kids, the usual beef teriyaki and plain chicken wings. When I got home I was really struck on how tender the steamed dumplings were. The rice wrapper was extremely fresh. The wrapper did exactly what it was supposed to do: deliver the goods to my palate! And boy did it ever. The Pea Pod Leaf dumplings were just as good with the pea pod leaves giving a whole new flavor profile to a steamed dumpling. The surprise of the feast went to (believe it or not) the beef teriyaki. One of the most tender (not the usual dried out, chewy type) and flavorful appetizers.

Rhode Crew member David soon mobilized an emergency Fork in the Rhode review with some special guests that are very familiar to the world of dim sum. Soon after we arrived we were escorted to a large table. What was really nice about this review session was that I truly felt like a guest as I sat back to listen and watch the ordering taking place in a Chinese dialect unbeknownst to me. Very exciting! Soon after the ordering took place, the table started to fill up with dim sum. The dim sum never stopped coming. Dish after dish, I thought I would have to call for a  replacement pair of chopsticks!

If I were to review every dish we ate, this review would be very long and time-consuming. Considering what I get paid for being a contributor and founding member of Fork in the Rhode, I should have written one, short paragraph for the review 😉 Anyway, after the meal ended several observations were made:

  • I’ll never have to drive to Boston again for great Dim Sum
  • Pinch me…is this really West Warwick?
  • Yes the steamed shrimp and pea pod leaf dumplings are that good!
  • And the beef teriyaki is to die for too!
  • The chicken feet are still a great mystery to me but put me in a Dim Sum moment and Andrew Zimmern has nothing over me!
  • More on those Chicken Feet…the group did say there could have been more flavor or spice to compliment the dish.
  • Great assortment of dim sum. Although there aren’t dim sum carts rolling around like you would find in some big Chinatown districts, you can count on some extremely fresh, made to order dim sum that will send you straight to Shangri-La .

My recommendation to you… head over to the Silver Crystal. Go right for the Dim Sum menu or skip through the traditional “American” Chinese food entrees in the regular menu and head for the back to the “Chinese Special” dishes. Order and then sit back and let your taste buds take you away to another world.

Tag’s Review–

When my fellow Rhode Crew members Dave and Scott said “lets go for Dim Sum”, my first reaction was to get ready for a trip to Boston for an afternoon “delight”.  To my surprise, Dave mentioned that there he had heard a few good things about a place for Dim Sum right in West Warwick.  Being curious, we all said we’d give it a try.  Little did I know at the time that Dave had invited some guests to dine with us, and not just for a quick Saturday lunch, but rather to make an afternoon of it.  And an afternoon it was.  He had invited his good friend Yiguang and his wife Ying. Yiquang is originally from the Canton Region of China and his wife from Bejing. Additionally, they brought along some of their friends to help us navigate through the extended Dim Sum menu. The afternoon food fest was about to begin.

The ‘party’ started the moment we walked through the door where we were graciously greeted by the owner of the Silver Crystal Chinese Restaurant. From that moment on, I was only a “guest”!  It was like they took us into their home and meticulously prepared everything from scratch, and served us with the utmost of care.  The ordering was done by one of Dave’s friends, and I tell you the food did not stop coming for two hours straight.  I never picked up the menu.  To give you an idea of how much food there was, the round table we were seated at was a large round table, with a super large lazy susan in the middle which was about five feet in diameter, giving each one of us about one foot of table space around the perimeter of the table.  The lazy susan could not fit all the food.   In fact, we filled the lazy susan twice over.

The Dim Sum was so plentiful I lost count of how many dishes we had.  My best guess was there had to be about 20 different plates ranging from the Fried Chicken Dumpling (one of my favorites), to the excellently prepared Fried Pepper Salt Shrimp; and I swear there was Fried Calamari on the table, although I can’t find it on the menu as I write this review, to the Steamed BBQ Pork Bun, and the very different, but very tasty, Pan Fried Turnip Cake (another favorite of mine).

From the owner, to the wait staff, to the restaurant itself, “Crystal” is truly a gem right in West Warwick.  This is a keeper!

Silver Crystal – 289 Cowesett Avenue West Warwick, RI 02893 (401) 822-1818

Tag’s Toilet Talk : Large, well-lit, clean, fresh smelling, elongated toilet seat (with lid), big sink, two types of soap, well stocked paper towel machine; and yes, hot water.  A bathroom you won’t be afraid to enter and use. I rate this bathroom 3½ (out of 5) T.P. rolls!