"Is King's Village worth a visit for serious Chinese food fans? Absolutely!"
I didn't think the soup I made was that bad; chicken, corn, and bits of new potato. My wife thought otherwise though. After looking at it for about a fifth of a second, she said, "we haven't eaten at King's Village in a while." I was so happy at the chance to eat in a serious Chinese restaurant that I hadn´t yet noticed the link between my cooking and her thoughts.
King's Village is more than a place to escape soup made from leftovers, it's a perfect example of how New Jersey's best Chinese restaurants manifest themselves; in a free standing building across the street from a 7-11 and surrounded by private homes. Here in Edison, there are plenty of Chinese people, wonderful shops and restaurants, and no town whatsoever. Since there isn't a town, you can't call the place a "Chinatown" and because my own coinage, "Chinasprawl," is too angry, we'll have to make do with the emerging word "Chinaburbs."
Edison—with it's huge Asian immigrant population—is the heart of the Chinaburbs. (We also have a large Indian community, but that's another report.) We have authentic restaurants, herbal medicine shops, and Chinese markets that are so big you can dance in the aisles. There's no place to stroll, no street life, and more Asian food resources than many large cities.
Leaving my soup behind, we drove over to King's Village. Dead empty on a Thursday evening, I first thought of claiming a giant table with a lazy susan for the two of us, but Maria, my wife steered me to a regular table for two against the far wall. Specializing in casual dishes from the Tianjin region of China, the menu—much of it in English after years of begging—begins with soups and snacks and then moves into stir-fries, hot pots, and set meals. We skipped the dim sum–like appetizers and ordered stir-fried pork with garlic greens and two kinds of dumplings; shrimp with squash, and lamb.
The food they serve is neither Chinese American or the authentic restaurant Chinese that most of us are used to. Instead, it is soulful home cooking for those who don't have a chance to cook food like this at home. I kept looking over to the semi-open kitchen to see if somebody's grandma was there.
Is King's Village worth a visit for serious Chinese food fans? Absolutely! Their cold dishes like pig's ear or jellyfish, and their Tianjin-style snacks like the beef or pork "pancake rolls" make the trip worthwhile. Even the cheap lunch special has appealing items like "homestyle pork meatballs," "eggplant and pork sandwich," and "tofu with green onions."
King's Village Restaurant is not far from Route 1 or Exit 9 of the N.J. Turnpike, and officially it's open seven days a week until 10 p.m., but it's a family sort of place, so the best time to visit is on weekend afternoons when it's packed, and the display case in front is filled with cold dishes.
And don't forget to check out the Asian Food Center—a huge Chinese supermarket right down the street. Even if you don't buy anything, say hello to the middle-aged white guy who's dancing in aisles, it might be me.
1639 Route 27, Edison NJ 08817 (map) 732-339-9858
Asian Food Center
1721 Route 27, Edison NJ 08817 (map) 732-819-8139
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