Food & Drink » Restaurant Review

Pass the Pig's Knuckles

Forget kung pao, moo goo and other American "Chinese food," Full Kee offers real, authentic Chinese food.

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Let me say that I am not a connoisseur of Asian food. I've had plenty of chow mein, Kung Pao, moo goo; American "Chinese food." In the last few years I have noshed fusion moo shu and Rangoon raviolis at "eclectic Asian bistros." But I don't believe I had ever had it, traditional Chinese cooking, before. Full Kee serves it. And I am sold on it.

Full Kee offers everyone something that I need and have been taking advantage of, a bit of an Asian cuisine education. I got my feet wet with familiar rice and noodle dishes and started to explore. I am particularly enamored of the casseroles served in small iron crocks. The white turnip and beef brisket ($10.95) is rich and hearty lumberjack food. The brisket is handled well and is supertender, falling apart at times. Full Kee cooks a good deal of fat on their meat. This accounts for the gravity of their entrees. For pesce-vegetarians ("I eat fish") the shrimp and bean curd casserole ($12.95) is also thick and rich with broccoli, shallots and shoots. In a more traditional offering, congee with pork and preserved egg ($4.75) was a good new experience. Congee is a rice porridge that soaks up the flavor of the pork but retains the nuttiness of the rice. The preserved egg freaked me out a bit, but it tasted just fine.

Despite all of the wonderful entrees and soups, Full Kee is probably best known for their dim sum. I really like dim sum, and Full Kee offers the widest selection I've ever seen. These heavenly little dough purses of savory minced pork, shrimp and numerous other possibilities are steamed or pan-fried and served two or three per order. On holidays and weekends, pushcarts circle the dining room until 3 p.m. offering samples of the 30 types. Affordable ($1.95-$3.25 per order), really tasty and fun to eat, the dumplings are also wonderful training tools for learning to use chopsticks. They are not too small or slippery, and they don't roll far if you drop them.

You could stop your education here. If you wish to really learn though, you must push yourself. Enter the blue menu. Enlightenment awaits you within. If you've been there, you've seen the blue menus over there on the side of the table wedged between the dish of chili sauce and the sugar caddy. Maybe you've taken a peek and thought, "Ducks blood? Thank goodness. Oh, pig skin and beef intestine. Great!" and then you slid it back to its resting spot. I did too. No more. Such trepidation is selling the chef and me short. Dining out is, in part, about trust and experience. I've pushed myself to trust the good people at Full Kee more and it's been rewarding. Pigs knuckle? It's very tasty, particularly with the garlic and red chili sauce they serve it with. Chicken feet (boneless) sauteed with veggies and soy are a treat actually. I have not yet tried anything with ducks blood. Soon.

Full Kee is a dedicated restaurant. They work long hours, prepare a remarkable number of fine dishes and have never rushed during my visits. When you go, order several dishes. Try the spicy frog and the lo mein. Have dim sum of course. And don't skulk from the blue menu. Explore a little. Trust your hosts. They won't let you down. S



Full Kee ($$)

6400 Horsepen Road

673-2233

Lunch and Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

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