In my quest to find an authentic Chinese restaurant, there are many questions I must first ask myself.
Among them: How can I distinguish among the dozens of "Americanized" selections, when so many restaurants offer the same types of foods? What is true taste when dishes vary from place to place? Or how would I know what an authentic meal is without having experienced it from its country of origin?
Hopefully my last question will be answered in the next two to three years as I plan on a visit to southern China. In the meantime, I must resign my taste buds to a quality of food that in my opinion tastes the same no matter where I've lived or visited.
Here in Houston County, The Houston Peach printed a special magazine a few months ago that featured the best restaurants. Readers voted Kim's Kitchen in Warner Robins as the best Chinese restaurant in town.
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This vote piqued my curiosity since I'm always up for a tasty experience at any Asian restaurant.
Kim's offers an all-day buffet like so many Chinese dining establishments, yet doesn't really offer anything out of the ordinary.
The buffet costs only $5.50 and is offered seven days a week.
There's the standard vegetables, such as crunchy, long green beans and mushrooms, egg rolls, fried and steamed rice, wonton and hot and sour soups, seafood, including shrimp and vegetables, and teriyaki and sweet and sour chicken, among a selection of a dozen other chicken dishes.
Everything was flavorful, although a typical meal will have been basked in soy sauce, monosodium glutamate, oil and other ingredients that fire up our sense of taste when it comes to Chinese cuisine.
After all this, I'm still searching for that one local Chinese restaurant that dares to be different. I'd love to walk in one day and see a whole duck, with its head still intact, greeting me as I head down a buffet line. Or perhaps a different take on a dessert I've found in so many Chinatowns on the West Coast. I don't know what it's called, but it's a dessert, a sticky round ball of flour filled with a sweet paste, surrounded by a brown crust, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Different.
I wonder what people must think of those of us who have never experienced an authentic meal, whether it's Chinese, Italian, Mexican and so on. So I have to question what it is we're consuming, perhaps a watered-down version of so many world cuisines.
I would hope visitors to our country would no more generalize what American food is by a trip to a local fast food or chain restaurant. That's not what we really eat, is it? Or maybe it is.
By no means am I picking on Kim's Kitchen. The food as I've mentioned is typical of what you would expect to find when deciding to eat Chinese for lunch or dinner. The restaurant's decor is festive and ornate, complete with the culture's signature red designs for luck. Wood carvings and large paintings hang on all four walls.
Service is fast and friendly. Kim's is situated in Stantom Plaza. It's an easy location to get to and leaves plenty of time to get back to the office during your lunch hour. If you're looking for your favorite Chinese dish, most likely you'll find it at Kim's Kitchen.
1754 Watson Blvd., Warner Robins
Phone: (478) 929-2773
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mondays through Sundays
Payment: Cash, credit cards
Vegetarian selections: Yes
Children's menu: No
Handicapped accessible: Yes
Latest health code rating: 93
Noise level: Low