Monday, September 19, 2011

Moy's Kitchen

Moy's Kitchen is a Chinese/Cantonese restaurant on State St. in Salem, Oregon. It is a family-owned business that has been in Salem for about nine years.

While walking toward Moy's, I saw no cars in the parking lot and no noticeable activity emanating from the restaurant, so I was even wondering if the place was even open. I saw the front door was open ajar, so I went inside. A man (presumably the chef) was eating his lunch; there were no customers in the place whatsoever. The place also had very few lights on; they opted to use the natural sunlight to brighten the place up.

After viewing the menu, I saw they had a section of hot and spicy

I got a takeout order of Kung Pao chicken ($8.25): diced chicken, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, peanuts, and dried red chiles in sauce.

Kung Pao chicken (Moy's Kitchen)
One of the red chiles in the dish
I thought the sauce that the chicken and vegetables sat in was OK...good, basic seasoning. The chicken was moist and the cooked vegetables retained a bit of crunch to them. The best part of the dish was the peanuts, giving that extra Asian taste and textural dimension.

Unfortunately, the food had way more negatives than positives. Even though I enjoy spicy food, I am not willing to bite into a whole dried red chile just to set my mouth on fire (unless there is some spicy food challenge involved). When I see the words "hot and spicy" on the menu, I'm assuming hot spices will be added to the chicken, vegetables, and/or the sauce. Once I set the dried red chiles aside, there was no heat in the dish. Zero. Furthermore, Chinese food can be very oily, and the sauce here was no exception. I could feel the sauce lubricating my insides...ugh. I know I could have made a better version of Kung Pao chicken at home.

My meal came with a small container of white rice and a fortune cookie. The rice was fine, but the cookie was stale. Really? How the heck can you serve a stale fortune cookie to a customer?

I thought about eating my food in a nearby park, but that plan was foiled when I realized the people at Moy's forgot to pack any utensils. Yup, no chopsticks, no fork, no spoon.

I'm assuming the place was empty because I had missed the lunch rush. To be in Salem for nine years, they must be doing something right. But I'm concerned that they are not getting nearly enough customers to stay in business. I'm guessing they must get a bunch of people at dinner time. Moy's also offers a $4.25 lunch special, either because they can afford to do so, or because they are desperate for more customers at that time. Based on my one visit, I'm leaning towards the latter reason.

The woman at the cash register was a pleasure to talk with as I waited for my food. That was really the high point of the entire experience. As for the meal itself, it left a lot to be desired. Sadly, I feel Panda Express (a national food chain) serves better, more flavorful Kung Pao chicken. Not good for this family-owned business. 1.5/10

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